Monday, December 27, 2010

Helpful Hints for Those Ministering to Grieving Hearts...

While I am not an expert on thing I have had plenty of experience in these past 17+ months is the grieving process. Everyone grieves differently; some openly, some in private, and some...well...not at all. (I'll talk about that last one a little later.)

I haven't written in my blog for a while because I have felt the need to draw near to the Lord even more so now than ever. It seems that the second year for me has been more difficult than the first. For a time, I lost my desire to write...and I still don't feel as though I will continue on a consistent basis, but I felt the Lord prompting me to write about how someone might be able to reach out to a friend or loved one who is hurting due to the loss of their spouse.

Since becoming a widow, I have taken the journey and become friends with a few ladies who, sadly, have joined this elite club. I am no expert, as I said previously, but I have walked the road for a time now and am familiar with it's inevitable twists and turns so I have some insight into "the process". I have had people contact me as a result of this and ask me if I can offer some advice on how a person may help someone who is hurting due to the loss of a spouse.

Here is what I always start with:

#1 - BE IN PRAYER for them, and also ask the Lord to show you how you may be of comfort to them.

#2 - BE SILENT. Words mean NOTHING to someone who has just lost a spouse. You can have the best of intentions in trying to relate to their level of loss, but your words will only reach the exterior of a person's brain at this point. Even if you have lost a spouse yourself, your experience of loss is still very different than someone else's experience so you can't assume you know exactly what they are going through. If the deceased was a believer, it is appropriate to rejoice to some degree that they are in the presence of the Lord. If the person who is the widow/widower is rejoicing and feeling a sense of relief, take your queue from them and rejoice with them. If the rejoicing is not being expressed outwardly by them, my advice is to be cautious when offering your comfort in the form of words.

#3 - BE PRESENT. Observe how the person is grieving and act accordingly. Maybe they just need you to be in the room, or cook for them (this could be especially wonderful if they have small children that need to be cared for), or clean the house, or grocery shop...the Lord will give you discernment on how best to make yourself available to a grieving widow/widower. (NOTE: Grocery shopping was a big one for me. I couldn't make it down one aisle of the grocery store without losing it and having to walk out because that is where I shopped for anything my husband wanted to or could eat in those last months. If the person you are concerned about was a caregiver for someone with a long-term illness, this may be an area that you can be of greater use because the grocery store can be a HUGE trigger.)

#4 - BE AVAILABLE. At the time of loss everyone, friends and family alike, make themselves available for service or to be of help and comfort in some capacity but after the funeral is over, as would be expected, people get back into their own daily routines, work, ministry, etc. and life carries on and they are not as available as they were originally. These are the times when the loneliness sets in because the grieving person is still feeling as though time has stopped for them. The person grieving is the one who is watching on the sidelines while everyone else is living. Be mindful to possibly include the person at your dinner table, or ask them if they want to take a walk around the block, but if the person is reluctant to go anywhere or do anything, make yourself available to just sit with them and see where time, prayer and conversation take you. The Lord is faithful to bring comfort to grieving people through His people. Be the extension of Him and you will see first hand that the blessing does not just come to the person who is heartbroken.

There are many stages to can google it and you will see that most websites say that there are five stages, but others say seven...but honestly, the person that is grieving feels like there are a million stages because they all happen ALL the time, and the order is not the same for each person, and most of the time each stage has a little bit of ALL the stages mixed in. This is when the person that is grieving feels most like a schizophrenic. Grief is not orderly, polite or conscious of time. It is most often messy, forceful, and demanding of time and energy. It will not be ignored.

I said at the beginning of this entry that I would address the issue of the people who do not grieve. It isn't that they are not grieving...oh, but they are! But they are choosing not to grieve by avoiding the situation and the feelings that come with it. They are the hurting people that will just about do anything not to allow themselves the full experience of grieving because it is far too painful.

They often try to replace the emptiness with something else like shopping, traveling, sex, sometimes using drugs (legal or otherwise) and alcohol in order to escape their pain. BUT, these are the people that you need to be aware of and really be prayerful as to how the Lord can use you to encourage them to allow themselves to go through the process; and then assure them that they will not be alone. It's the "being alone" part that usually has them running scared. So, try to be that source of encouragement and stability that they need in order to feel like it's okay to grieve.

Lastly, there are many people who are grieving that just "ride the waves", trusting the Lord to uphold them and help them to keep moving forward...BUT it is still an extremely difficult process even though the person is a believer and is trusting the Lord, walking closely with the Lord, and allowing the Lord to lead the way. The Lord doesn't remove the agony of grief just because we know Him well. The process is still the process as designed by Him. Painful, messy, lonely, dark, heavy...those are some of the words I have used to describe the beast that is grief. But, the Lord IS ABLE...

This process was designed by the Lord to allow those that grieve to draw near to Him and allow HIM to heal our hearts and fill that void in our lives. His people acting as the extension of Him is how He accomplishes that healing.

Please ask the Lord how you may be of use to someone grieving today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

God's Plan...My Future...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity." Jeremiah 29:11-14a

This scripture has spoken to me for many years, but has never been more appropriate than right now...this season in my life. I've been seeking the Lord for comfort, rest and restoration since Jay passed away in July 2009; and He has been faithful to meet me, to comfort me and give me rest; but I am only just now beginning to feel His restoration of my life. While I am still uncertain of things to come, my God gives me the ability to look towards my future with much anticipation, and dare I say, excitement, for what He has for me.

It hasn't been an easy transition into the new life He has given me; it definitely took me a while to embrace what He gifted me with, but I can finally say that I am comfortable with where He has me. I am blessed by my room mate and how the Lord orchestrated us living together for this season in our lives. And now that I have been in the new place for four months, and have developed a pattern in my day, and am enjoying extended fellowship in the way of friends, work, choir rehearsals and bible studies - I am feeling like I am starting to live again. There is much more to be experienced in the way of ministries at church and missions trips, but that will all come according to the Lord's timing. He knows my desire; I will wait on Him.

While I still have many days where I stop and think of Jay (at times it's still very painful) I can feel the healing taking place in my heart. The God that works "all things out for the good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose" is doing just that for me...working out the good for me. Many of the valleys of my life that can be perceived as bad to anyone on the outside, I am lifting them up to the Lord saying, "Thank You." He is showing me that what I have been through was extremely difficult, but I have never been alone, and I have learned so much about who He is and even who I am, and now I continue the journey on this path of discovering what I am to do to serve Him in this part of my life.

The questions I ask now are, "What do you have for me, Lord? Where can I serve You? Will I ever have love again? Will I ever become the person YOU have in mind?"

Knowing that the Lord only has my best interests at heart, it feels good to be able to trust that my Father will always take good care of me. More valleys will come, this I am certain of. But having been through one of the deepest, darkest valleys I can experience, and not only surviving it, but I have come through it praising His Holy Name; I think I will be okay. My hope and future are His.

By faith...

Heavenly Father, thank You for the healing and growth I have experienced lately. I have learned that I can trust You to lead the way; even when I don't like what You are leading me to and through, You are faithful to walk with me, guide me, hold me, strengthen me, and fill me with the bravery needed to persevere. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit that I may continue to take steps in the direction in which You are guiding me. Use me, Lord. Use my circumstances to glorify You. I want none of it. Anything that is good in me is because of YOU. Show me how to be more like You. Transform me. It is Your image I want to reflect. Help me to know Your will for my life. Search me, God. I want a fresh start this day. I love You. I live for You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Persevere for Jesus' Sake...


You just have to say the word; every Christian knows the job they have to do...persevere through them. The Lord sifts them through His loving hands. They are meant to stretch us...grow us up...and prove to ourselves and everyone else that our FAITH is real. Do we ask for them? NO WAY! Nobody in their right mind would ever ask for trials to be handed to them! LOL But, when given something seemingly bad, it's an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord than you have ever been. Who can argue with that? I know when I am going through something pretty trying; I want to be as close to the Lord as possible.

I remember when Jay was sick and things would get really rough from his treatments. He would be in pain, so sick, running a fever, chills; you name it - he had it. I would be awake all hours of the day and night trying to get everything under control for him; get him the least bit comfortable. There were times that I just cried out to the Lord, sometimes in private and sometimes right where I was at...bedside with Jay, in the bathroom, in the kitchen...wherever I was - cry out to Him. It was hard. I didn't want to do it anymore! I didn't have the energy or the willpower to get through. It seemed as though we'd been through the cancer trial for an eternity, and the Lord was still expecting us to endure it for an additional eternity. Impossible!!

But then Jesus came...

And now, I am a widow and I have experienced every emotion you could think of. The life I thought I would have with my husband was no longer an option. Everything I knew was taken away when Jay passed away. The loneliness alone is enough to severely mar and disfigure a person's existence. There were times that I just didn't want to live anymore. I told the Lord that I just couldn't do it. I couldn't handle what He was calling me to endure.

But then Jesus came...

Have you ever felt Him standing before you? Maybe you couldn't see Him with your human eyes, but your heart felt that He was before you, calling you to action? Our own expectations of Him sometimes get in the way and we don't see things as the Lord intended. We think we can't do what He has called us to do; what He has called us to persevere through.

But then Jesus comes...

Jesus endured much suffering as He walked the earth in human form. He was God in flesh. He had feelings, emotions, physical fatigue; He was ridiculed, beaten beyond recognition, and then impaled with large spikes and hung on a cross. For...ME?? Yes, He persevered for my sake. Jesus endured everything so that I could have eternal salvation and permission to come to my Father with my petitions.

The Lord has given me the strength to go on; to take steps in this new life of unknown possibilities, good or bad, and He has blessed me with every step that I take on this path; trusting that He has a firm grip on me. When I feel like I will fall; He sends Jesus to ask, "Will you do this for Me?" When I can't move, I'm too tired, I'm being disobedient to the calling on my life, Jesus stands before me and asks, "Will you do this for Me? Will you hold on a little longer? Will you endure a little more pain, anguish, fear, devastation, ridicule...for My sake, knowing that OUR Father is in control and trusting that this trial will not last forever...will you hold onto Me? Our Father will deliver you in time, but you have to persevere...will you do that - for ME?"

How can I say 'No'?

If you are hurting, angry, anguished, name it...Jesus is in your face right now asking you to hold on. Will you do it...for Him?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Seasons Change...

Well something must be happening within me...

I've stopped counting the number of days you've been gone.
I've stopped daydreaming about what I could have done differently to keep you here longer.
I've stopped beating myself up for all the things I fell short on in our life together.
I've stopped wondering if you're okay.

I've started counting on the fact that I KNOW I will see you again someday.
I've started daydreaming about what heaven really looks like.
I've started loving myself for the person I became by the time you said "goodbye".
I've started believing that you are well.

I know that God holds you tightly every single day.
I know that you are proud of me for who I have become.
I know that you still love me even though we are not here together.
I know that you are living in God's glory.
I know that you will be waiting for me when it is my time.

I TRUST the Lord to bless your soul because you asked Him into your heart.
I TRUST the Lord to show you all the things He wanted you to know.
I TRUST the Lord to keep you safe.
I TRUST the Lord...period.

Missing you, my Love. I still think of you often...even though I may not be counting the number of days since you went to heaven. Now is my time to live a new life...for the Lord. I trust what He has for me and even though it is a very foreign place to live right now, I will persevere and finish well. I will carry you in my heart forever, Baby.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your strength in this moment...and every other. YOU are the reason I live. Help me to seek Your plan for me. Help me to understand my calling. I pray that you will help me to open my heart to all things new. Thank You for loving me. Thank You for Your grace and Your mercy that are new each and every day that I surrender my life to You. Give me Your wisdom; Your discernment. What do You have for my life, Lord? Who will You surround me with? What things may I accomplish for YOUR glory? How may I serve You? Pour Your spirit out afresh on me, Lord. Help me to walk in Your way. Show me Your path. I praise Your Holy Name! Amen.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Life Keeps Movin'...

Wow...blink and two months goes by without a blog entry!

Okay, so here is an update on ME...

The Lord is growing me in my faith as I walk this road of grief. Honestly, I thought I had it pretty much "handled"...and then my whole life changed. I didn't realize that making so many changes in a short period of time would cause me to react in such a way as to open up old wounds. And from what I hear, this is all very normal. The sniper known as "grief" has reared his ugly head these past couple of months. I was not prepared in the slightest for all of the range of emotions to come flooding back again.

I moved to my new apartment in July, and I love my new apartment, but when I moved in, there was nothing in it that said "Jay lives here." And I absolutely love my roomie, Kristin! She is a doll! But, I struggled for a brief time with living with someone that wasn't my husband. I had to form new routines in a new place with my new roomie...and I just wasn't really prepared for how I would feel about that. Thankfully, enough time has gone by and now I have accepted my new home and new roomie as my gift from the Lord and I have allowed the Lord to minister to me through this time. As I have released my vise grip on my past life and given it all to Him; He is slowly revealing to me what my new life holds.

I live with a great girl! She is an amazing and wonderful godly woman. She inspires me to take my vise grip and apply to the Lord's promises. Kristin is 10 years younger than I am, but is a wise-beyond-her-years kind of girl. As I am navigating this world now as a single woman, Kristin is my tangible example from the Lord of how to wait for the Lord's plan to unfold. Don't just live life looking for a spouse, but live life for the Lord and HIS selection for a spouse will come in HIS time.

A lot of people don't know the story of how Kristin and I came to be roommates. This story will show you just how the Lord orchestrates His perfect plans. After Jay had passed away in July last year, I had begun praying to the Lord for His direction on where I would be living. I couldn't really afford to stay in that house and maintain it for very long on one income so I began to pray for the Lord to show me if I should stick it out in the house or begin looking for an apartment somewhere. It took a couple of months with no answers from the Lord, so I decided to go and look at apartments myself so I could see what was out there. Well, what I saw was that I can't afford an apartment either!! Apartments are ridiculously expensive! But every time I began looking at apartments, I felt in my heart, the Lord telling me NO. He kept putting the scripture Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I AM God" in front of me...on cards, in books, in my journals, etc. So, I just kept praying and seeking His plan.

One day, I had just had enough of the waiting and I poured my heart out to the Lord and said, "Lord, where am I supposed to live? What should I do? Am I supposed to stay in this house that I can't take care of? I can't afford anything out there! What should I do?" And right as I was crying out to Him; He flashed a picture of Kristin's face inside my heart. And I thought, "Lord, what does that mean?" He just kept showing me Kristin! Now, at this time, Kristin and I were co-workers, working on becoming good friends...going to lunch from time to time...but I wouldn't say that we were "besties' or anything...I don't think she would either. LOL But, I just kept placing it before the Lord asking Him to tell me what He had planned and He just continued to place Kristin on my heart. So, I finally said, "Okay, Lord, if you are saying that Kristin and I should discuss moving in together, have her come to me! She is so much younger than me! Why would she want to live with me? Lord, are you sure?"

So, I continued to pray about it for some time...I didn't even tell my best friend Karen about what the Lord had shown me! THAT is a miracle! But I wanted to see how the Lord worked this one out and thought it would be best to leave it between Him and me...and Kristin.

A number of weeks later, I get an email from Kristin saying, "Hey, let's meet for lunch sometime. I want to talk to you about something." Well...right then and there, I KNEW! So, I went over and told Karen all that had happened...I think she thought I was a little nutso, but I told her that I thought Kristin was going to talk to me about this and I would let her know when I got back from having lunch with her.

Kristin and I met that afternoon for lunch. And she started the conversation with something like this, "Well, I wanted to talk to you about something...I don't know where you are at with the whole living situation but I was wondering if you might be interested in getting a place together?" And I just looked at Kristin with this KNOWING look and smile on my face. I told her everything that the Lord had shown me and that I KNEW she was going to talk to me about this! She got glory bumps!! We both did!! But then she had a little twist on the story herself. She told me that the Lord had shown her my face and given her my name even before Jay had passed away. She continued to pray for me and my situation and our possible future living arrangement for months before even deciding to approach me about living together!

GOD IS AN AMAZING GOD!! Seriously, when He says He has a plan...and He has it all under control...HE AIN'T JUST WHISTLING DIXIE!! He truly has every tiny little detail in order and He works all things out for the good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

So, here we are! Kristin and I are now living together and she has been so patient to deal with my ups and downs and transitions. The Lord has blessed me with a great friend.

In addition to transitioning into a new life, last month I had to have knee surgery to repair two tears in my right meniscus. Outpatient surgery was set for 8/26, and the days leading up to the surgery were a struggle because it was my first major "thing" to happen without Jay. I couldn't figure out why I was so down about the whole thing, and then the night before the surgery while driving in my car to Karen's house where I would be recovering after surgery, I muttered, "Lord, I wish Jay could be here with me for this." And just like that - I understood why I was feeling so poorly. I was really missing my honey. I can't believe more than a year later and I still get the wind knocked out of me when I realize that he is not here anymore. Weird how the roller coaster of emotions can get triggered by the smallest of things.

So, here I am - I went through surgery and have recovered now. I'm still missing my honey, but the heart pain has subsided for now.

For now.

TODAY, I am well...I am living...and I am learning to love my life again. God is faithful. I am blessed. (Note to self: Let's try to stay focused on that, Jamie.)

Life keeps movin'...I think I'll put my tennis shoes on and start movin' along with it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

God in the Clouds...

Too many changes at once bring about too many emotions! I wrote a couple of weeks ago about moving to my new apartment and being excited to start my new life. Well, in addition to that excitement these changes have brought about fear and sadness; and these feelings have sparked a whole new level of my grief. Oy!...

Once I got everything into the apartment...20+ years worth of my life!...from a house into an apartment, I quickly realized...more like got slapped upside the head...that EVERYTHING is now completely different. It was my life; only turned inside out now. Nothing was familiar any longer. And since that realization, I have struggled with closing the door on my old life that included Jay to opening the door to a new life that doesn't include anything about him. A HUGE dose of reality has come over me and it feels like that dark cloud has returned...or maybe it never really went away but has grown bigger.

As I have given these heavy-hearted feelings over to the Lord, and many tears, He has been ministering to me about dark clouds and how He is using them to remind me that He is still with me. And not only that; He promises to bring me a rainbow to shine His light on my heart.

"And God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." Genesis 9:12-16

I remember studying rainbows in science class in high school. I remember that the teacher told us that rainbows are refracted light that breaks into several particles which cause the different beautiful colors. As the Lord has ministered to me over and over these past few weeks specifically...He reminds me that there is only One source of Light. GOD is the Creator of Light. And He created these rainbows that come with dark clouds as a reminder that HE can be found in those clouds that darken my days and weigh heavy on my heart. I need only seek Him and strengthen my relationship with Him as I go through this season.

During the past few weeks I have missed my Jay more than ever before. The pain is unbearable sometimes, but I have snapshots in my heart of him and the memories that we made together, good and bad, and I replay those quite often so he is still a part of my present life. I will see him again one day...this, I know. And we will continue on with our journey.

The Lord's promise to me is that I will find Him in the clouds. Dark clouds are necessary in order to have a clear view of His rainbows.

I'm looking, Lord...

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Year...

"Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before me leading wherever I choose." - Walt Whitman

Today...a milestone has been reached. One year ago today, my husband went to heaven. I can honestly say that in the 12 months that have gone by; my heart has received healing. Not complete healing yet, but the Lord has been faithful to fill my empty heart with His promises of comfort in times of pain; His companionship in times of loneliness; and His love in times of heart famine. Major healing has been received from the Lord's demonstration of His unfailing love for me.

His provision has never been more visible and tangible. I haven't written for a long time because of the overwhelming feeling of AWE and WONDER at His special provision for widows. Yes, I have felt lonely; but He has held me. I have felt ruined; but He is restoring me. I have felt like an alien; but He loves me.

The Lord has shown me that if I place my complete trust in Him that He will always prove to be enough for me. And He is most certainly enough.

I quoted Walt Whitman earlier because I love what the quote has to say about having the freedom to take the path of my choosing, but I want to add a scriptural reference to it because any path that we choose still needs to involve the Lord. When we are faithful to lay it all out before the Lord, He is faithful to show us which way to go on the path of life.

"You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Psalm 16:11

Any path worth choosing is a path that has been paved by the Lord. It's never a mystery to the Lord which way to go; we just have to allow Him to show us and then be obedient to His direction. There is always a blessing to our obedience.

"I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free." Psalm 119:32

"Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight." Psalm 119:35

The Lord's hand has been upon my life since Jay went to heaven. He has placed me in His loving and gentle care. He has seen fit to move me to a new apartment. (There is a story there, and I will share another time.) This past weekend, I moved from the home that Jay and I lived in together to a new apartment and a new life. While I loved that home for a time, it was no longer a home to me when Jay left. But the Lord is the One who makes my home now and I believe that there is much in store for me in this new life. The Lord didn't bring me this far to drop me on my head. I look forward with much anticipation to what the Lord has in store for me in this new life.

I find myself daydreaming about the new adventures that I will experience. I can't help but think of Job and the loss that he experienced and how the Lord was faithful to restore his life completely and even beyond what he had previously. I have suffered a big loss, yes. But I have also experienced a big gain and that is that my faith in my God has grown exponentially. I am truly blessed that I have a God that loves me this much.

Thank You, Father, for the gift of walking this path. Thank You for guiding the way when I have been completely lost. Nothing makes sense without You. Light the way, Father. I'm following. Amen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

When All Else Escapes You...Praise the Lord!

"PRAISE the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being." Psalm 146:1-2

Here is what I know for sure...I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING! LOL The reason for everything happening in my life escapes me right now; but GOD knows! I will put my trust in the fact that the Lord knows why the events of my life are necessary. (Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I AM God.") I will trust that these trials will strengthen me and my new found strength will please and glorify the Lord.

Lately, I have been in this place of not knowing what will happen to me next, where I will live, what my new life will be like...with all of this uncertainty, you would think that I could ask the Lord a million questions or submit my petitions for the life I hope to have, but I just don't know what to pray for. I have been here before where I don't know what to ask for in my prayers...but in my experience, when I don't know what to say or to ask for; when all else escapes me, the best thing to do is to just PRAISE THE LORD.

I've been reading the Psalms for the past several days because I have found that when you need a time of refreshing or encouragement from the Lord, the Psalms are the place to go. David was attacked on all sides; some of it was self-inflicted and some just general persecution, but no matter where the attacks came from or how they were brought about; whether by the Lord or by his own choices, David was able to turn to the Lord for strength, encouragement, bravery, protection and provision.

THIS is where I am at in my life right now. I need the Lord's strength, encouragement, bravery, protection and provision. Is it scary to be a widow? Yes. In this economy, to go from two incomes to one, is not favorable. And to go from sharing a life with someone to not having that companionship is a lonely, scary feeling. And, when your hopes in this life and the plans you once had have fallen through, well, that can be pretty devastating. BUT, if I am faithful to give my loss, and the feelings that are generated by it all, back to Him and PRAISE Him for what HE is able to do in my life, these circumstances will most assuredly glorify Him! In faith, I will continue to surrender everything to Him and rely on His abilities, His strength, His courage, His provision, His companionship and HIS LOVE.

Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen."

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly ABOVE all I ask or think! Wow, I don't have to ask for anything or even think about what I want! He is able to do so much more than anything I can imagine so all I have to do is be still and trust Him. He alone is praiseworthy!

So I will praise the Lord, O my soul!

Thank You, Father! Thank You, for all that I have and all that I don't have; for You are the One Who knows what is best for me. I trust You, Lord. I place my life, my heart and my soul into Your able hands. I love You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Asking, Seeking, Knocking...

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Luke 11:9-10

Wow...I read this scripture recently and this is where I am at. Only the Lord can answer my many questions and help me to move forward in this process. I haven't written in a few weeks because I have been in a holding pattern with the Lord. (Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I AM God.") I have been praying and waiting for the Lord to guide me in the next steps of my new life.

It has been nine months since Jay passed away, and so far it has been the usual roller coaster of emotions that you read about in all of the grief books. But along with those emotions, God has given me plenty of opportunities to share my experience and minister to people as they grieve. I have received a lot of healing by being able to comfort those that are hurting just like me. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says it perfectly, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." Simply put - if you receive comfort from the Lord; extend that comfort to someone who is hurting and in need of comfort. I pray that I can continue to be used to extend this comfort. My heart goes out to the broken-hearted.

Since last writing, the Lord has revealed much to me. I will be moving at some point in the near future. My house is officially on the market to be sold. Prayerfully, the house will sell and I will move out in the Lord's time. There aren't many houses selling in my neighborhood these days, but the Lord is ABLE. I believe that there is a perfect person meant to purchase my home. It will just take patience on my part. One thing that I was told about selling my house is that I have to disclose that my husband passed away in my home. Well, that really stinks in a big way! I asked my realtor if we can make sure everyone knows that Jay passed away peacefully of cancer and it wasn't some murder-suicide or homicide or anything like that. LOL You know, like all that stuff you see on the news! Oh my goodness! LOL

Along with selling my home, I am trying to shed some of my 20 years worth of stuff. I will most definitely be downsizing to an apartment or condo when it's time to move. I'm only one person...I don't need that much stuff. And along those lines...another thing that the Lord has been able to etch on my heart is that it really is "just stuff". There are a few things that hold sentimental value to me in my house, but the Lord has given me the ability to look at it from His point of view and see that it isn't important the amount of stuff I have, or how nice it is...material items really are just that...material. It is the memories that you hold onto, not the item that gave you the memory in the first place. It will be nice to shed myself of all of this and take the next step in my new life. In the Lord's time, of course.

The Lord is faithful to continue to teach me what is truly important. FAITH in HIM! As I seek Him in faith; the plan will be revealed. I have FAITH that He will see me through; HOPE in His promises; and LOVE...the LOVE of Jesus Christ. The greatest of these truly is....LOVE.

Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to guide my steps as I seek You. I am grateful for the chance to serve You and glorify Your Holy Name. I pray that You will continue to use me as your vessel and use my testimony to show others Your greatness. You are bigger than my circumstances. I trust You, Lord, in everything that happens. Help me to see Your plan for my life, and help me to take the necessary steps to fulfill that plan - even if I hesitate, move me. Thank You for loving me, my Abba Father. In Jesus precious name. Amen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The GOOD In All Things...

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

If you desire to know; I mean really know how good God is; don't just read this scripture - engrave it on your heart. Are all circumstances in life good? No. But, the Lord shows those who believe in Him, and desire to see the good in everything, just how faithful He is by allowing us to see with our own eyes how every situation in our lives leads to something greater than our present circumstances.

" all things God works for the good..."

An example for me today was that my church is having a women's retreat this weekend where there will be a dramatic skit (Insert spoiler alert here in case you are attending the retreat!) and one of the props that will be used is an IV bag pole in an attempt to make the stage look like an examination room. I am providing this "prop" to be used in the skit. This pole used to belong to my hubby. At one point in his illness, he had a bad infection and needed around the clock IV fluids at home. I used to administer the IV medications using this pole. It's a not-so-great memory for me.

I've had this pole for a very long time and have thought on a number of occasions, "What on earth will I do with this thing? I should just throw it away." Well, the Lord has a purpose even for this silly pole that holds a negative memory for me! The idea that the Lord can use something as simple as this pole to bring glory to Himself through this skit is such an encouragement to me.

Now, don't get me wrong, I am NOT insinuating that Jay got cancer so that a stupid pole could be used in a skit at a women's retreat. But what I am saying is that even though my honey had to endure such bad things during his illness, the Lord is faithful to take everything that could be perceived as bad and bring about good things from it. He IS the God of all hope. This pole has become a symbol of Romans 8:28 and the Lord is using this symbol to remind me of just how good He really is.

"And we know [I KNOW] that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

I am so blessed to know that the trial my husband and I have been through (any part thereof) will be used to bring even the smallest amount of glory to my God. Nothing ever happens in vain. God uses all things, people and circumstances.

To God be the glory! Amen.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Am Not My Own...

I haven't written for a few weeks. I have been experiencing some changes in my heart and I needed to take some time to really take it all in and receive it. The Lord has been so faithful to continue healing my heart a little bit more everyday. Do I miss my Jay? YES. But it is no longer incredibly painful to think of him. Praise the Lord for healing!

I have been meditating on scripture in order to really understand what the Lord wants from me in this process. It took me a while to allow myself to understand my title of "widow" but I have come to accept that title. Isaiah 54:5 says, "For your Maker is your husband - the Lord Almighty is his name - the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." I am no longer a married person on earth; I am married to my Lord.

From an earthly stand-point, I am considered single now...which means I must be pure in the Lord's sight until such a time as when the Lord decides to bring another husband to me. Believe me, it is very difficult for me to even fathom having someone else in my life besides Jay, but the Word tells me that because I am a young widow; I will marry again. So, I believe that the Lord has a plan for my future which includes a new married life. Until then, I must remain committed to the Lord and stay pure.

I would've never thought that at 40 I would need to be thinking about my sexual purity whether mental or physical, but the Lord has allowed my circumstances to become such that I need to be ready to be held accountable for these things. I need to honor Him with my whole heart, mind, soul and BODY.

As a commitment to the Lord, I have given my wedding ring finger over to Jesus. This is a picture of my purity ring. A ring that means that I belong to my Maker. All that I am and all that I have belong to Him. It doesn't mean that I am not committed to Jay's memory or that I have stopped loving him. Absolutely on the contrary. I will always love Jay and he will remain in my heart forever. It is merely my commitment to Christ that is symbolized on my finger with this ring. It reminds me Who I belong to. It reminds me that nothing about me is my own.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." I have accepted that I am now single, but I am commanded by God not to ACT as a single woman, for I am not my own. I was bought by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. My everything belongs to Him.

Now why would I write about something so personal, you may ask? For the accountability! I will be held accountable for my actions...whether by people or by God...or both! I have a 12 year old niece who I want to be led BY EXAMPLE so she understands how precious she is to the Lord and that her love and physical intimacy was designed to be given as a gift to her future husband.

I want her to know that her Auntie is committed to waiting until she marries again before giving her body to a man. And while mistakes were made in the past; this is a new life being given to me, and I desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord.

This ring is a symbol of my commitment to the Lord. I am His...heart, mind, soul and body.

Thank You, Lord, for Your love for me. Thank You that You sent Jesus to not only be my Savior, but to be my husband. I may be a widow, and a single woman, but I am Yours. Guide my steps. Take my hand, Lord. I desire to walk where You know the things that You want me to know. I desire Your way. I love You with all of my heart, mind, soul and body. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Half Way Point...

Six months ago today, I said, "See you when I get there" to my honey before his journey to heaven. It is hard to believe that six months have gone by already. Time is such a funny seems to fly by, but can feel like forever too.

I am at the half way point in the "first year" of my grief. I'm not sure if that really means anything to me or not. The first year is very hard because you have to experience all of the "first" holidays, birthdays and anniversaries...and I have been through most of them already...and actually survived them. Praise the Lord. And there are several phases...more than five if you asked me...that you have to go through in order to receive any healing at all. So, while the half way point is somewhat of a milestone today, it really doesn't make anything feel better.

I have a few more "firsts" to go through...Valentine's Day (which I kind of dread because it's just further confirmation that I really am single now) our wedding anniversary on July 11 (what would have been our 18th year of marriage, but I'm single now, so how is THAT going to feel? Weird!) and the one year anniversary of his passing...which happens to be the very next day following our anniversary AND happens to be my father's birthday. Ugh. So, there are more difficult times to come.

There are so many things that happen when you grieve the loss of someone so significant in your life. Loneliness, sadness, anger, depression and relief are all of the typical emotions that you go through. I have been through them all and they all kind of switch off in my head...which sometimes I feel like a psycho woman because my mood swings go from zero to eighty in 2.2 seconds! But they are all normal emotions and you have to just let yourself go through them in order to experience any measure of relief at all. That's how God designed it to be. If you don't allow yourself to feel everything and experience it, you can't come out on the other side a healthy person.

You don't just feel it emotionally go through physical changes as well. Weight loss, weight gain, stress, anxiety, all take a toll on your body so it's like your body actually has a grieving process of its own. Those emotional and physical experiences are what I expected to happen to me. But here is the one physical change that I didn't expect to be a part of my grieving process...memory loss. I have many instances where I don't remember a conversation that I've had with someone, or details of a conversation get lost in the abyss of my mind. How frustrating is that?!

I can have an entire conversation with someone and come away from it with only bits and pieces left in my brain. I can make a mental list of things that I need to get at the grocery store and walk in there and I am lucky to remember one or two. And here is the best one of all...I will get up and go into a room with the intention of getting something or doing something in that room and when I get there...I have NO CLUE what I went in there for. That has never happened to me before and it is frustrating! I feel like I'm getting Alzheimer's offense to those with actual Alzheimer's...but it really is a frightening thing to lose your memory.

Now, I know that with time things will get better and I will return to a somewhat normal state, but this process has been very interesting to go through and it's also odd to see how much I have changed. But I can honestly say that the changes that are happening within me are what the Lord uses to speak to me and show me what He wants of me. I hope to be a better person one day as a result of going through this. I hope that the Lord can take what I have been through and use it to help someone else.

I can't be THIS open with everyone for the circumstances to not be used by the Lord for something. But whatever the Lord chooses to do with all of this, may HE receive the glory for it. If it helps someone, may God be seen as the orchestrator. I cannot and never will be able to do anything without my Father leading the way and showing me His way. Thank You Abba Father!

Dear Jaybird,

Wow, six months, Babe. I still remember a lot of things as if it were yesterday, but thankfully when I do think of them, I am relieved that you are no longer living your life in agony. Praise the Lord that you were spared from any more of that.

Six months in heaven today, Baby. I try to picture what you could be doing each day, but I know that it pales in comparison to what you really are doing. I can't wait to see you again one day and listen to all of your stories of the glory that you have seen. One day, I will know that glory. What a blessing it is to know that I will be able to experience that with you one day.

I love you so much. I miss you more than anything! I know that you would want me to live my life to its fullest according what the Lord has for me, and I will do that, but I hope you know that I still think of you often and I love you immeasurably. I always will.

See you one day soon, my love.

Eternally Yours,