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When the Days Pile up

One after another. Though it’s been nearly two-and-a-half years since my husband Michael made his way to heaven, it seems the anniversaries and holidays approach faster and faster, and then pile up. The two days that are most difficult, outside of the day I lost him, are within just a few weeks of each other – Last month was our wedding anniversary. Last week was our son’s birthday.

These difficult days continue throughout the year. Sunday is Mother’s Day. June is his birthday and Father’s Day and so on.

It is obvious he isn’t here, but those days – the anniversaries, birthdays and holidays – are such in-your-face moments of his absence. But the Lord is never absent, and He is the One who can help us get up and show up, each day, after our life falls apart. He never promised life without pain, but He did promise our sufferings on this earth would be worth it when we reach eternity with Him.

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

Though we have hope, as Christians, and know we will see them again, we miss our husbands on this earth no matter how much time passes. The pain from their loss will always stand, but as each holiday, anniversary and difficult day comes and goes, the Lord stands stronger. He comforts, strengthens, protects, heals and guides us through this earthly life, until we one day join Him and are reunited with our husbands.

The Lord Comforts. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

The Lord Strengthens. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

The Lord Protects. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

The Lord Guides. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

The Lord Heals. “and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Lord, There are days, especially holidays and anniversaries, without our husbands that can be so difficult, dark and full of despair. Direct us to Your word, and help us to depend on You for comfort, strength, protection, guidance and healing. We know You are the only one capable of transforming our lives. We are so thankful we have you to lean into. Amen.

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

 

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.

 

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

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

16 is my number

As 2016 comes to a close and I step into 2017, year 7 of this journey, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness and provision for me and my family.  I wrote the piece here a few years ago, yet it still rings true today.  2016 may have been a tougher one for various reasons; where some prayers went unanswered, where loss was felt, and life didn’t go as planned sometimes(go figure).  But, I still saw God’s fingerprints all over it.  16 is my number!  And I praise God He continues to redeem and restore it.  I pray this article blesses you as much as it did me as I revisited it and prayed over the new year.


“This is the day The Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24 

16 is my number….  Let me explain!

The 16th was the most joyous day around my house for many years.  September 16th was my husband’s birthday, we met on October 16th, and so we chose August 16th as our wedding day.  My reasoning was he never forgot his birthday or the day we met, so our anniversary would be equally as easy to remember.  We celebrated the 16th many times over.  It was our day!

Then my husband’s death changed all that.  He went to heaven on June 16th, and it seemed to go from a joyous day to a cursed day for me.  Each month, I dreaded and loathed it.  16 was a number that had betrayed me.  I marked it off on the calendar the first year every month, 1 month ago, 2 months ago, 3 months ago, 4 months ago…. For a long time I had to begrudgingly acknowledge the 16th and hated how it contained a tangible reminder of all I lost.

Now, I know God knows, because unbeknownst to anyone setting the schedule for our writing team, I am scheduled for my first official team member post and several after on that day.

I also know because without hesitation, I said I wanted the number 16 as my shirt number for a women’s basketball league.  I run around with 16 plastered on my back as I play every Sunday night.

My son wears 16 on every uniform, for every team he plays on now as well.

But wait…what am I thinking? The 16th became cursed, right?

I lead with my heart, and my heart has Christ.  In what seems like an impulsive choice with my basketball team and an odd coincidence with this ministry, I realize it’s entirely the LORD.  When asked what number I’d like my mouth blurted out the number 16 from my heart, before my brain got in the way. When asked if the schedule looked good, I confirmed without even noticing the date was the 16th for the next few months.

God is here and He knows.

God gave me the gift of joyous celebrations on the 16th for so many years.  Satan tried to claim 16 for himself through my husband’s suicide.  But, God knew that someday having all these events fall on the same day would somehow help me go back and remember and also help me move forward.  He knew way back then that now I’d be writing about my journey on the 16th of each month, and that I’d be running around every Sunday joyously on the basketball court with 16 on my back.  He knew that what Satan tried to steal, He’d claim and use for His honor and glory and my good.

It’s amazing to see my life through this date years later.  It’s still a whopper of a few months that hit me almost consecutively: June 16th, August 16th, September 16th, and October 16th.  Of course 3 of these dates no longer carry the joy they once did because of the 4th one.  But, they all no longer feel like they betrayed me either.  They are just days, my days, days The Lord made.

The 16th has been claimed by God as my day.  Now it’s my turn to find ways to rejoice and be glad in it.  Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes that’s hard.  But it’s possible because I have Christ and I can trust Him.  I’ve seen Him work to heal me and make 16 all mine.

Heavenly father, I stand in awe of how you’ve taken the 16th and transformed it, from joyous celebrations, to horrific pain, and then to perfect peace.  I have peace in your words that this day is the day you made for me.  I embrace it, and I ask that you continue to use me to bring honor and glory to you as I share my story about my day, number 16.  I pray that you are with each widow reading this, that you help them to move their day from pain and hurt to a place of peace, as they move forward and see it in a new light.  Lord help us to claim that this is the day You have made, and help us find ways to rejoice and be glad as you heal us.  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: He’s Already Proven It and A Hope That Keeps You Going


He Will Clean It Up

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

James 4:14 NASB

You owe me $20!

We used to say that all the time when my husband was alive.  We often ate dinner with my best friend, his best friend, and our kids.  Those people were also his sister and brother-in-law, our nieces and nephew, and our girls.  At almost every dinner, whether at home or out at a restaurant, someone knocked over a drink and it went everywhere.  My husband would call out, after the initial shock, “you owe me $20,” and we would all laugh and clean up the mess together.  For the longest time after his death, we didn’t say that anymore.

The other night, I was out with those same wonderful people.  The youngest kid is now 19 years old and we were celebrating our last dinner of the summer before the kids go back to college.  As we sat at our restaurant table, someone reached for something and, you guessed it, a drink was spilled.  Both me and my sister in law said in unison, “You owe me $20”.   For a moment, time stopped and we all looked at each other and almost simultaneously, we all smiled a secret smile as we each remembered the voice that was missing.

It has been almost six years since he left this place and went to Heaven with his Savior.  2,007 days to be exact.  This grief journey has been one of the hardest roads I have ever endured.  For some of the journey, I felt like my heart was missing.  For some of the journey, my heart was beating again, but to a different beat, not as loud or as strong on some days.  I’ve changed, evolved, grown…  This is a messy journey that changes moment by moment.

At the five year mark, I was hit in the face with a huge grief wave.  I am now starting to remember the sweet memories of him and how he made me laugh.  He made everything okay.  This makes me miss him even more some days.  I miss his ability to make me funnier, sweeter, less serious.

There are days when I long for Christ’s return.  I pray for it.  I look for it.  I weep for it.  I’m so tired of this endless journey.  I’m so tired of my heart hurting when I think about all the other family members who lost him too.

But then, I remember how he lived.  When a “catastrophe” hit – like 20 ounces of fruit punch tipped and spilled over an entire family’s dinner – he made it okay and put it into perspective.  From Christ’s view, it is all a vapor.  A moment that won’t be remembered in eternity.

So, I have to turn my view to my Savior.  I have to remember to view this journey from His point of view.  He would not ask me to take this road if it were not for His glory and His purpose.  On my very worst days, when I cry out to my Savior and ask for respite, He holds me in His arms and lets me rest there.  He walks with me through the mess of this journey, and sits with me on the side of the road when I need to take a breather.

It gets easier to live with the pain of loss.  I don’t hurt all the time like I used to.  I’m not broken.  I am a redeemed vessel.

Shattered into a million pieces and now glued back together with the Savior’s precious hands and love. 

I still laugh at the kids’ faces when they were younger and we said, “You owe me $20.”  We never collected.  After my husband said that with his serious face, he would break into a smile and say, “Help us clean up this mess before my dinner gets cold.”  And, together, we would make everything okay.

That’s how it is with Christ too!  He can make it better, if you’ll let Him, He will clean it up.

Dear Lord, Thank You for Your loving arms that wrap around me and comfort me.  I can’t imagine this journey without You.  Amen


 

Sherry LookSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

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

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

If you liked this article, you might like: Spring Cleaning Your Soul by Katie Hagen

 

Something More

We are blessed to introduce our newest ministry team member, Janene Gaynor.

Janene lives in the Dallas area, surrounded by her three children, their sweethearts, two grandchildren, and a host of wonderful friends.  Janene married her beloved Frank in 1972 and enjoyed 40 precious years with him. Four months after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, Frank lost his rigorous battle against bladder cancer. Frank left a void so vast, it was like a black hole which threatened to swallow Janene whole. However, God’s faithfulness has been exceptional. As a retired minister at a local church, she spends her time painting, mentoring, serving in Stephen Ministry leadership, and seeks to trust Christ in this new season of life.

Janene @ Myrtle Beach

Please join us today as Janene shares how God has added something more to her life.


 

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you  is a separate and necessary part of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

It is a marvel how God unites two to become one in marriage. Oddly enough, I recognize and appreciate this mystery even more now that I am widowed.  In marriage each partner mutually commits strengths and abilities to benefit their shared life. With my beloved’s life amputated from my own, I felt incomplete. We had learned each other’s strengths and leaned into them as partners.  Over the years, oneness was a state of being, and once he was absent, I wondered how I was to take on as one person what had taken two?

Like many widows, I felt thrust into making important decisions when my brain was fuzzy and my heart was broken. I felt caught up short in all ways, except for the immense security I had in the love of Christ—His unchanging, all-knowing, consistent and extraordinary love.  I invited Him into all my struggles. He has walked with me since that life-altering day when Frank went to the joy of unbroken fellowship with His Lord and mine.

Since then I have made scores of difficult choices and adjustments, but I still miss my husband and the quietness of my home accentuates its emptiness.  Retired, days can lapse without a verbal conversation and the feeling of isolation encroach.

In the absence of daily verbal conversations, I recognized the legitimate need for healthy human interaction. Have you ever just wanted a hug? It turns out there is a good reason for that physiologically. Hugging increases a natural hormone which can offset the stress hormone, Cortisol. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists the death of a spouse as number one, so when we are hugged, the love expressed is the best part but there is stress relief as well.

Although widowed, we remain part of a larger union–the body of Christ.  The body builds itself up in love and takes God’s love to the world, our collective neighbors. Both activities represent vital human connections. For some it may mean participating in a book club, a quilting or crafting group, a bible study, or volunteering at a hospital or elsewhere.

God’s answer to my prayer has evolved over time but includes hosting groups in my home, mini-retreats, quilting bees, volunteering at a veteran’s resource center, serving as a Stephen Ministry leader and most recently, joining this team, A Widow’s Might.

In this way I reject the isolation. Too much “me” time is unhealthy for me. I can think myself into a pit in a gnat’s blink.  I recharge alone but to “love one another,” I must be in community–to spend time in good company.  This, too, is a way to take ownership of my grief.

I didn’t choose to be a widow but I can choose how I’m going to live as one.

For awhile it was survival or subsistence living but God’s love, fueled by His empowering grace, led me on. Christ made possible the will and the means to embrace life with His purpose and to honor His love in my heart.  He did it. I had to take the steps.

My encouragement to you, when you are ready, is to pray and seek trusted counsel on how best to honor the need to connect with others.  Your contribution is still needed in this troubled world, and you are God’s gal for meeting needs and touching lives in very specific and special ways. God knows what that “something more,” is for you.

Lord, refresh our lives through Your love.  There are places You have reached in our hearts that only devastating pain can access and it makes us so attuned to those who suffer. Show us where to give and where to receive, how to be fruitful and how to accept, or even ask, for help.  You are a good God, faithful and true.  Guide us in community and be more than our partner, our friend, but our Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen


Are you looking for a member of our team to speak at your church or next event? Contact us at admin@anewseason.net to tell us what you are looking for and how we could help you.

Would you like to read more about helping others during your grief?

Liz Anne wrote about starting your own group in your town here. It is called Anatomy of a Widow’s Group I and II

Another article about helping others is this one by Elizabeth called Turn Back and Strengthen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is Good-11

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8 ESV

She stands and shares how her faithful God has answered her prayers with “yes” and life is great and God is good.  People smile and encourage her.

I sit in silence, aware that my prayers were not answered with the “yes” I desired, my life is not the “great” I dreamed it would be; but my God is still faithful and good.

Bless it.  My mind can’t help but wonder what her picture perfect life must be like.  If I think back, I realize I used to be her.  Shame on me, I sin in my frustration over her “easy life”.  I confess my jealousy to God.

Widowhood is ugly.

God is beauty.

The longing for our departed is overwhelming.

God is un-overwhelm-able.

When you have been traumatized by medical treatments and procedures yet still known the comfort of God in the midst of endless hospital stays;

when you have experienced loss and truly felt the peace that passes all understanding;

when you have stood flanked by your children, with your arms lifted high in praise, singing “Blessed Be the Name” at your husband’s service, then you know the extent of full surrender.

You will know the goodness of your Lord on a whole new level when you have crawled through the darkest of valleys and thrilled at the tiniest sliver of His light reaching through the darkness to you.

You will comprehend a love so deep, a faith so intense, a truth so piercing.

The goodness of the Lord is not dependent on how He answers my prayers or if my life is going the way I want it to.  The goodness of the Lord is just that:  HIS GOODNESS.  It does not waiver.

On my good days, God is good.  On my bad days, God is good.  He just is.

Widowhood is lonely.

God is ever-present.

Our shattered pieces seem irreparable.

God is a God of redemption and restoration.

I know a depth of my God’s character that I didn’t know before this journey.  He has revealed facets of Himself that I cannot begin to put into words.  His presence has carried me through horrendous events and His goodness has been constant.

Lord, I marvel at You.  Eternity is not enough time to explore Your goodness.  Thank You for revealing more of Yourself to us in the depths of despair.  Amen.

~Lori


Other posts in this series: God is Good, God is Good-2, God is Good-3, God is Good-4, …5, …6, …7, …8, …9, & God is Good-10

Dishonorable Honor

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  

John 3:30 ESV

 

My husband’s death was classified as a non-line of duty death.

And to add insult to injury, it was said to be “dishonorable”.

Suicide tends to be viewed that way!

The words that are used cut deep.

Selfish

Weak

Dishonorable

Coward

Lost

Choice

Those are all words I’ve heard.  Many times over.

They might even have crept into my mind, at times, when this became too hard.  When the pain was so deep.  The missing so vast.  The resent palpable.

It’s easy to go there.  Suicide means the person wanted to die right?  They chose it?

During our two year journey leading up to Scott’s death, we saw numerous doctors and tried many avenues of treatment.  We were relentless in trying to find a “cure”.  Because honestly, that’s what it was going to take.  Scott’s brain was betraying him by becoming diseased and his doctors, the treatment plan, and his work support were failing him.  He wanted a cure as badly as anyone else who gets the bad news that he has a long term, debilitating, life altering, life-threatening illness.

But nothing worked; he just kept getting worse and worse.  As a police officer with a weapon at his side, our very worst fear came true that horrific day.

I’ve had many people in our world make me feel less. Early on I allowed the shame to get the better of me.

I wanted a different story.  I wanted an “honorable” one!

I watched other police officers who died a hero’s death receive such honor and glory.  Their names go on a wall in Washington, they are memorialized, and the brotherhood of police speak highly of them for years to come.  Scott was soon forgotten by many and dismissed by others.  There’s no post each year in the State Police on his end of watch, no overt recognition of Scott’s contributions, service and dedication to the job he loved.

A job he loved SO MUCH,

that he died trying to keep it…

By doing and taking anything asked of him, even when it was making him deteriorate rapidly, harming instead of helping.

These realities stung for a quite awhile for me early on, and gave the enemy a foothold in my life.  It was hard not to resent others and be bitter.  My husband died while trying to get well.  But all anyone outside of this saw was… my husband “chose” to die.

I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt suicide is never a choice.  Suicide goes against every natural defense our great God gave us.  The whole fight or flight brain make-up.  Once that instinct is lost, once someone gets so deep into this vastly misunderstood and brutal disease, it’s hard to know what’s what anymore.  Scott often said he felt like his brain was betraying him and he could no longer use the things and parts he knew well, to stop it.

Scott’s end was tragic and horrific.

But,

Of course there is a but…

Now I realize that God gave me this “dishonorable” story for His greater honor.

You see, I now know if Scott died in a different manner he would’ve become more and God would’ve been less in so many ways.  Scott would be the greater focus and not God.  When I was stripped of even my pride in how Scott died, that’s where God met me.  That’s where He said, “Watch Me use this for My greater glory. Watch Me use that man of yours and his horrific story to touch lives for My Kingdom.”

Understanding today more fully how He would use Scott’s story, I realize that if I truly trust God then I can trust His plan for me too. Even if that plan is a death that’s “dishonorable” in the world’s eyes.  Because in Him I find perfect honor.

So, on this the sixth anniversary of Scott’s Heaven day, I say thank You!  Thank You, God, for the dishonorable honor of my story, and for being bigger and more in this story than anything or anyone else. Thank you for making us decrease, so You could increase.

God is more and we are less, for that I am grateful!

Father God, helps us to embrace our story.  Even if it’s not honorable.  Help us to desire for You to be much more and us to be much less.  Help us to humble ourselves before You and submit to Your authority in this tough journey. Help us to remember that You alone deserve the honor and glory.  In Your matchless name, Amen. 


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles written by our team with a similar theme: Let God & More Vast

 

God is Good-8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5

Since the beginning of time, we see God fulfilling promises and prophesy. He IS sovereign, Sisters! The thing is…our human minds were never meant to grasp His ways and His infinite wisdom. We were meant, on bended knees and with bowed heads, to surrender, to trust and to sing His praises in ALL things. He reveals understanding to us in His perfect time and with His loving care for our ability to handle it or use it in our lives.

So, while we cannot understand His ways, we CAN trust Him fully with assurance that all things from Him are good and born of His unconditional love for us.  Just like He fulfilled promises and prophesy during Biblical times, we can trust His purpose for our lives today and use it for His glory. We can rest knowing our lives were created for eternity with Him and He guides us in every step of our earthly journeys until we reach His heavenly presence. So, let us always be encouraged by huddling into His sovereign, capable hand!

~Katie


Other posts in this series:God is Good, God is Good- 2, God is Good- 3, God is Good- 4, God is Good- 5, God is Good- 6, & God is Good- 7