Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Eve 2016



Christmas Eve morning 1978 found Mac and I sitting in a little church listening to a message about Christmas from the book of Romans. For over 6 months I had been discouraged and unhappy and was searching for the answer to one question: How to fix my relationship with God. This was our third visit to this church, and I was afraid I’d never find the answer I so wanted.

Then the preacher read Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”, and I knew he was speaking about me. Then he shared Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Suddenly I realized that I had found my answer and I wanted that gift more than anything.

The preacher went on to share that, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). Christ died for ME! I was stunned at the notion that God loved me that much. Suddenly the preacher asked everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes. He quoted Romans 10:9, “…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” He told us that was all it took: confess with your mouth and believe in your heart. Silently I cried out to God, “I am a sinner and I believe that Jesus died for me!” As soon as the service closed, I grabbed Mac’s hand and told him I’d accepted Christ as my Savior; and with tears rolling down his face he told me he’d been praying for me. My husband had been praying for me! From that moment on, we began anew. Our marriage was richer, our love for each other was deeper, our lives were set on a fresh path.

Through 40 years of marriage, the best were those 36 years we traveled together united in Christ. Then God in His great wisdom took Mac home to heaven, and so I now travel this path alone. Yet, I’m never alone. God is always with me, and He has promised to always be there: “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Christmas Eve 2016 I celebrated my 38th birthday—my “born again” birthday. It’s the best day of my life. The one that assures me that I’ll see Mac again someday; and best of all—I’ll see my Savior. Because of this day, I have peace to face each day, and find strength and comfort as I travel this new path as a widow. I rest in the promise found in Romans 8:38-39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2017!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Trusting

I realize that this is a bit long, but it comes from my heart and I am praying that you will read all the way to the end.

From the moment I met my late husband, I knew I could trust him. It showed in his words and his actions; and every day it was verified by his behavior. He never broke a promise and he never promised things that weren’t in his abilities to do. He never, ever, revealed secrets—not to me, not to anyone. Never once did he say, “I shared your secret because it was the right thing to do.” Mac was the perfect example of “keeping his own counsel.”

As a couple we knew we could trust each other completely; even better as Christians, we both knew that we could totally trust God. 

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
—Psalm 9:10 (NKJV)

Being able to trust God allowed us to face Mac’s illness and his death. Being able to trust God allows me to face each day without my beloved Mac. But the one thing I’m hesitant to do is trust other people.

I think this is true for many, if not all, widows. Trusting another person requires you to open your heart up to them, and that’s not easy when your heart has been broken into pieces and has yet to mend. Trusting others make you very vulnerable in so many ways: emotionally, perhaps physically, even financially. 

Yet it is part of healing to reach out and trust others, but when that trust is betrayed it hurts. Often the simplest betrayal of a confidence is a very deep hurt to a person that is already hurting; and the smallest, chiding comment digs deep into a broken heart.

Over the past two years I’ve been hurt several times, and every time causes me to pull back and withdraw. Because I’m not truly a confrontational person (unless you really, really push me), I don’t say to someone that their betrayal of a confidence, or their scolding comment hurt. Instead I spend time working through my pain and hurt privately until I feel I can reach out and trust anyone again. 

Sometimes I have a very hard time learning to trust that particular person again—to trust, really trust, a person who has hurt you is difficult. I think this is true for all of us, but more so when your heart is fragile.

Because in my own heart, I can’t forgive and trust as I should, I have learned to take these hurts and lay them at Jesus’ feet. He, and He alone, is able to heal my heart. He is able to give me the grace and strength to reach out and trust others again. After all, He has never broken a promise to me, He is always with me, He is my comfort, strength, and joy, and I can go forward unafraid of what others can do to me.

The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

I hope that you have placed your trust in the saving blood of Christ and have called on Him as your Savior. If you haven’t, you are missing out on a wonderful joy. Call on Him today.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9 (NKJV)
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:13 (NKJV)
For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

As a Christian, my desire is to be a trustworthy Christian. Daily I have to ask God to help me control my thoughts and actions so that I am “keeping my own counsel.” Some days I do okay at this, somedays I fail completely. My prayer is that you, dear reader, are a trustworthy Christian, so that you are able to reach out to those who are hurting and in need of your love and encouragement.

Some verses I read when I’m dealing with a trust issue. Dig into the Bible and you’ll find lots more.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
—Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
—Psalm 9:10 (NKJV)

But I have trusted in Your mercy;
My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
—Psalm 13:5 (NKJV)

Whenever I am afraid,
I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me?
—Psalm 56:3, 4 (NKJV)

The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
—Psalm 118:6 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
—Proverbs 3:5, 6 (NKJV)

Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’ ”
—Isaiah 12:2 (NKJV)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
—Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In everything give thanks


“…in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NAS) 

Today would have been “our” 42nd wedding anniversary. Facing this date is a bit easier this year, than last, and for that I am thankful. Still, I’ve been pondering how to deal with today. It’s no longer a romantic day, it’s still a bit painful to sit and remember our wedding and all those anniversaries, but I didn’t want the day to go totally unnoticed by me. Then God laid something on my heart.

So this morning I woke with joy in my heart. I fixed my one cup of caffeine, and sat down for my devotions. Then I went to the Thru the Bible web site and made a special donation in memory of my wonderful hubby and all those years we had together. 

Why Thru the Bible? Mac and I began riding the “Bible Bus” with Dr. McGee in 1978, shortly after Mac was saved and just before I was saved. We continued to ride the Bible bus together until Mac went home to glory in 2014. That’s 36 years and just over 7 times through the Bible! A lot of traveling together and studying God’s Word.

Mac used to listen to Dr. McGee on the way to work, and if any of his co-workers shared a ride, they had to listen as well. One fellow usually fell asleep, or so Mac thought. Then one day this guy spoke up at the end of the broadcast and told Mac that he liked the way Dr. McGee taught the Bible in simple terms, and that he had accepted Christ as his Savior as a result of listening and then reading his Bible at home in the evenings to check out what Dr. McGee had shared that day! What a JOY

So I believe in my heart that Mac would have approved of this donation. Someday in glory I’ll meet this co-worker face to face and we can all rejoice together. What an exciting day that will be.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Prepared beforehand



This morning, Pastor Mike was preaching on “What Christ Did for You”, and around the mid-point of his message I heard him say, “In Christ alone we are made righteous, given understanding, compelled to seek and turn toward God, becoming precious to God…”; and then he quoted Ephesians 2:10.

“For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand
so that we would walk in them.”
—Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

It’s not that I haven’t read this verse before, and it’s not that God hasn’t laid this verse on my heart before (see No, well maybe)—it’s that today this verse smacked me between my eyes and then drove itself right into my heart. 
  • My heart that is aching. 
  • My heart that is empty. 
  • My heart that is struggling. 
  • My heart that is searching for a reason for this life of widowhood.
  • My heart that misses, oh so very much, my Mac.
  • My heart that is filled with very sad memories of the last 10 days we had together.
  • My heart that seems unable to find the 40 years of happy memories we had together.
  • My heart that is finding the end of the second year of being alone SO VERY LONELY.
  • My heart that feels there isn’t a purpose for my life.
  • My heart that is finding it hard to let go of some guilt.
  • My heart that is finding it hard to trust God.
  • My heart that some days Does. Not. Like. God.

So there I sat today, with this heart of mine that has been struggling for the past few months and is on the verge of going cold, and God tells me, again, that He knew before I was born that I would be a widow, that I would have these struggles, that I would be lonely, that I would be angry with HIM; and yet, He loved me so much He still died for me, He still formed me in my mother’s womb, and He still opened my eyes to His precious gift of salvation. 

This verse seared itself deep into my aching, empty, struggling heart and broke apart another barrier—and it HURT. Honestly, it hurt, and it’s not the first time recently that my heart has hurt as God has pealed away layers of sin and sorrow from my heart. He did it through a Bible study in Habakkuk at our Ladies Bible Study at church; and again the next evening at our mid-week study at church where we are studying Philippians.

I’m finally facing the reality that some of my hurt and pain over losing Mac will never go away, nor will some of the guilt I feel; but it will ease, and as it does, so will my anger and upset. Yet facing these things is so very hard

God knew beforehand, He prepared the way beforehand, and He is there with me each step of the way. The big question is: Will I reach out to Him and allow Him to lead me, or will I continue to turn inward and withdraw, and continue to let my heart fill with anger and pain? Only time will tell, but I'm praying this past week has been a turning point for me. 

Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk 3:18 (NASB)

For I am confident of this very thing,
that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21 (NASB)






Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Be a Gentle Influence

First read this short devotional at Our Daily Bread, and then come back here.

This is an excellent devotional on why we shouldn’t push others to do, to serve, to try, etc, but wait on God’s timing in their lives. From a widow’s perspective this is very important, and is part of what I was trying to say the other day when I posted about my difficulty in saying no to projects because I felt that I was letting others down if I didn’t take on a certain project. 

Being a widow is not easy. There isn’t a guide book that lays out the steps you will take, and how rosy life will be if you do these things. Instead you stumble through as best you can, and pray, and pray, and pray for God’s comfort and guidance.

But you know what? It’s not easy being a friend to a widow either. I imagine if I asked you, you might tell me things like, “I don’t know how to relate to you.” “I don’t know what to say to you, so I don’t call anymore.” You might even, deep inside, feel guilty that you still have your husband; or you might find that being around me forces you to face the fact of your own mortality, and that’s a difficult thing for many of us to face. None of those are wrong, they are all a natural reaction. To be honest, I have trouble relating to a gal who is a brand new widow. Her perspective is different from mine, and I find myself stumbling for the right words when I talk to her. So you, my friends, are not alone.


Maybe, just maybe, I can assist you, as my friend, in relating to me.
  • First, please understand that as a widow, I don’t blame you, neither do I blame myself, nor do I blame God for this predicament. I am trusting the Lord with my life, and so should you.
  • Treat me the same as you always have, or as you do any other friend.
  • Don’t push me.
  • Be honest if I ask for your advice.
  • Pray for me.
  • When I fall down, be there to help me up.
  • Be kind. Be gentle. Be my friend.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Nothing More Than Him

Today is one of those days—my birthday. It can be a day to dread, or a day to face with joy in my heart. Yes, my birthdays have changed. For 65 years my birthday was filled with fun and love and joy; and for 40 of those years, it was filled with a warmth that only comes from being part of a special unit: a husband and wife. That unit is no more and I was concerned that I would feel empty. After all, some days I feel like my life has gone from this:

Birthday pancakes by Mac

to this:

Yup, that's a worm that crawled out of the apple!


This past few months I pondered how I would deal with today. Bake myself a cake? That seems silly, although my taste buds like the idea. Fix a fancy dinner? Nah, doesn’t appeal, especially since I’m hand washing dishes these days. Throw a party? Too much work—yes, I’m basically lazy. 

Then it struck me that I didn’t need to do anything special. After all, the most important part of this day hasn’t changed. I belong to Jesus, and He is my joy, my love, my all. He comforts me. He loves me. He leads me. In Jesus I am complete.

“…and you are complete in Him”
—Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)


There is a song by Tom Fettke that tells this truth: Nothing More Than Him. Part of the chorus goes: “You need nothing, really nothing, you need nothing more than Him.” Would you like to know something strange? Sure you would. While I was doing all that pondering, I knew I had to sing this song as special music in church tomorrow—because it shares in song how my heart feels about my birthday. I’m praying that tomorrow I can sing this with a special joy in my heart, knowing that I need nothing more than Jesus; and I’m praying for those who will be listening, that they will also know that they need Nothing More Than Him.




Thursday, August 25, 2016

No, well maybe ...



I’ve always had a problem saying no when asked to take on some responsibility. I’d form my lips to say no, and out would come “Sure, I’ll do that.” This became a source of frustration for my late husband. Finally my late husband reached his breaking point and he pinned a note just above the kitchen telephone: on shocking pink scrap paper, and using a big fat marker, he wrote NO in huge capital letters. I had the ultimate answer to anyone who pushed: “My husband says no.”

Still, there was one problem—I never learned to rely on God for guidance in accepting projects; instead I relied on Mac and that note.

Let’s fast forward to widowhood, and guess what? I’m in the same spot! HA! Without Mac to fall back on, I’m back to feeling as though I’m letting God down, as well as others (and this is an important point), if I say no. “After all,” I ask myself, “what else do I have to do?” So I quickly wound up as a widow who was in over her head in projects and busyness. This ultimately resulted in some really serious emotional and physical issues for me.

  • I’m more vulnerable to loneliness.
  • The loneliness has led to upsetting dreams.
  • The dreams have led to interrupted sleep.
  • Not being rested, means I don’t accomplish other things because I’m physically worn.
  • Being physically worn and lonely means I’m not eating properly.
  • Being physically worn and not eating properly together mean that I flat out don’t feel as healthy as I would like.
  • All of this keeps me from finding the joy that the Lord has for me each day.
  • Being out of God’s will, and not finding His joy for my days, leads to more loneliness.
  • And on and on it all goes in a vicious cycle.

Finally, finally, I had a moment of smarts (and trust me those come along only once in a blue moon) and I took a two week break from the busyness of life. During that time I allowed myself to settle in and seek God’s will for my life. I realized that I had forgotten that God knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5), and that He has already mapped out my life (Ephesians 2:10). Through prayer and Bible study and time alone, God showed me the value of saying no, unless it’s truly His leading in my life. 
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”—Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”—Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)
So I gave up several projects, and while I may have upset others, I know that I’m following God’s leading in my life. I now feel free to learn to be the new me and to find joy in each day. In fact, I’m doing new things and rediscovering the fun that Mac and I had in our retirement days—although in a very different way.

This being a widow isn’t easy. It’s traveling a road filled with bumps and pitfalls—and doing so without your partner. It’s easy to take a wrong turn and find yourself wandering on a path made up of the best of intentions, and soon you’re mired in trying to please others instead of God; but joy is only found in serving God and following His lead.
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”—Deuteronomy 13:4 (NKJV)