Saturday, August 6, 2016

Stability

I once was a fairly stable person, well, at least I thought so, although my late husband might have chuckled and left his thought unspoken. haha  Still, most things rolled off my back, I didn’t struggle emotionally with the little things, and I didn’t ride an emotional roll coaster. Even during the 11 months that Mac struggled to beat his bone marrow disease, I had a calm 95% of the time, and my faith in God’s plan for our lives was total and sure.

That seems to all be out the window anymore. I find myself suddenly plunging into despair only to pop back out of it by the next day. Sometimes the stress overwhelms me only at night and I don’t sleep well. It’s jarring to my body, heart, and my brain. I feel like this “drama queen” asking folks to pray for me constantly. Sometimes I wonder what they think. “Is this woman crazy?” or “Here she goes again.” No matter what they think, they are all dear enough friends to never say a word and to pray, pray, pray for me. That, dear reader, is the biggest blessing ever.

I do wonder though, if I’ll ever again be able to set my feet down and stay on a steady path, or will I always deal with the stress and struggles in such a way?

I don’t have an answer. No one does. Widowhood is, well, it’s deep, painful, difficult, sorrowful, sometimes filled with guilt (I survived cancer, why didn’t he survive the bone marrow disease?), and of course there is the stress. 

The stress of being a faithful testimony as I live my life. The stress of finding joy in each day. The stress of dealing with the every day happenings that once were his jobs. The stress of, well, almost everything. Little things become big things all on their own. Sorrow floods over me, unbidden and unwanted. At times, all I can do is crawl into a quiet place, read my Bible, pray and cry. 

Then there are the times when the stress is self-imposed. I’m not sure if those are the better times or the worst times. When I take my eyes off the Lord, and turn them to me, then I’ve brought this all on myself. Still, I don’t recognize what’s happened until I reach a point of total despair. Why? Again, I don’t really know. Perhaps it is all a part of widowhood, this not seeing when I’m stumbling, this lack of understanding. 

Whatever I don’t know or understand, I do know that there is only one way through all of this: “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”—Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

By doing so, I will go forward each day and will “…find grace to help in time of need.”—Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Stay-Cation


At 20 months (will I ever stop noting everything from the start of widowhood?) I found that I was not in a good place in so many ways. So I blocked out a 2 week "stay-cation" – and I'm just about half-way through. 

It’s been a huge time of refreshment for me, and a big part of that is letting God show me how to be busy—busy HIS way instead of my way. I am finding that each day I feel happier, and physically I feel better. I've taken drives, napped, gone to bed early, met friends for lunch, read books, shopped for fun things, watched some movies on TV, spent time searching the scriptures on a couple of topics, cried over things, and I’ve done some praying about some things that have bothered me of late. Because I’ve relaxed and let God lead, I’ve been able to make a very freeing decision. 

Not every widow has the luxury of a 2 week time off, but I do believe that we (and that means anyone who is reading this) need to give ourselves times of rest—and I think that can be a hard thing to do.

If you’re a widow who is struggling, I urge you to set aside a few days for yourself. Spend time with God in prayer and reading His Word. Do fun things. Cry if you need to do so. No household chores, no errands, stay away from texting, boring holes in your every present cell phone, chasing Pokemon’s, or whatever else takes up your time, and let go for 48 hours. At the very least, give yourself 24 hours. Take time to diligently seek the Lord, for only in Him will you find the comfort and strength that you need.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”—Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Toss and Give

One of the things I’ve had trouble facing for the past 15 months is cleaning out my late husbands room and his things. At first it was the emotional heart tug that got to me, now it’s mainly because I find it totally overwhelming. I’ve been praying about this, and praying and praying. I know I need to face this project, and I truly would like to be able to use that room. I can envision a lovely craft room in there. It already has a work table and a desk. Yet, I never seem to find the energy to get in there and get the cleaning done.

Recently this idea popped into my head: toss something away every day. Just one thing, or one small stack of things. I began today, and I started with something in my closet. Yeah, I know that’s not “his” room, but he would approve. Trust me on this. 



See (well, actually you can see because I took photos – har har) this ripped package has been living in the closet for almost 10 years now (and it was totally covered in dust when I touched it today. Achoo!). The paper became ripped as we removed it from the moving box in May 2006, and since it’s not obvious what is in that dusty paper: it’s Santa in his glittered covered sleigh with reindeer and the sleigh is filled with packages and a small tree—it really was pretty. I had visions of hanging this up every Christmas, but M absolutely refused to hang it up until I cleaned it up.

“But … but … my mom made this when I was only 8 years old (translation: it’s now 58 years old) and I can’t change it!” 

M was unwavering in his stand: it wouldn’t hang in our nice new, clean home until it was also clean, so it stayed in the paper. I simply couldn’t bring myself to fix it up. 

Do you notice a pattern here? I have always had issues with hanging onto “things” because someone I loved made it, read it, enjoyed it, or maybe even hated it but couldn’t get rid of it either. Yeah, I come from a long line of collectors of stuff. I’m aware that hanging on to all of these “things” carries an emotional, spiritual and perhaps even physical price. They tug at my heart and it’s not always a good tug as it can plunge me into sadness. At times they cause me to turn my eyes on the things of this world, instead of on my Savior. Plus they are a hazard, as I can barely move in M’s room without tripping on something. I don’t need to find myself on the floor with a busted bone! Anyhow, back to my project.



If you look at the close up of “Santa”, you’ll notice his disgustingly brown beard, and his suit appears orange-brown instead of red. You can also see what looks like dirt on the reindeer. Folks, while there is dirt there, what you are looking at is nicotine! (My mom was heavy smoker). Disgusting, isn’t it? Worse, after 16 years away from cigarettes, this whole collection of sleigh, packages, “Santa” and reindeers STINK! Yes, they still stink of nicotine. Just think: I’ve been letting this stuff slowly ooze into the clean air in my home. Stupid. It’s also obvious to me that no amount of cleaning up and fixing is going to make this truly useable.

So today the toss and give project begins. One item in the trash each day, and one item in the give away bag each day as well. My first give away is a set of sheets that I can’t stand looking at because they were a favorite of M’s and the last sheets he slept on; and Santa is now in the trash bag. 

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”—Colossians 3:2


Strangely, as I placed these two items in their appropriate bags I heard this applause from somewhere. I’m sure it was M.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Perfect Valentine

At “A Widows Christian Place”, a recent discussion was on how to deal with Valentine’s Day as a widow. It’s a question I’d been asking myself for several weeks—in fact since this year began. 

This is my second Valentine’s Day as a widow—only it’s not just Valentine’s Day, it was my late husbands birthday. In our home, it was always his birthday. It wasn’t until he retired, that he actually gave me a Valentine’s Day card. I never felt bad, after all he treated me like his Valentine every day, and I felt that he should be allowed to enjoy his birthday. So every year he picked the meals, the activities, and almost always asked to end the day with pineapple upside down cake and ice cream. This cake was a challenge for me, as my mom never baked this dessert and I went through several “from scratch” recipes before I found one that Mac really liked. I have wonderful memories of messes in the kitchen (especially the year I burned the cake - brown sugar, butter and pineapple don’t wash out of a pan very easily!), and holding my breath as he took that first bite. Would it earn me a “GREAT!”, or a “That’s good” – which meant keep trying. I was thrilled when I finally earned a “FANTASTIC cake, Kimberly!” A keeper recipe for a keeper husband.

Last year I was a widow of 3 months and floundering and hurting deeply. I simply wanted the calendar to go from February 13 to February 15. However, God had other plans for me. A friend invited me to a tea party for several gals in church, another friend picked me up and off we went. We laughed, read scriptures, and enjoyed delicious food and company. Yet, while I loved the company, I struggled through the entire event. You can ask the gals—I burst into tears at one point. I seem to be good at that. ha ha Looking back, I can see where the whole day was a time of strengthening for me, spiritually and emotionally, but it sure was a tough lesson. So how will I deal with Valentine’s Day this year?

Over the past 15 months I’ve grown into a widow—no I’m a woman of God—who is learning to let the past go and move forward. I have found this to be the healthiest way for me to live. My spiritual health, as well as my emotional and physical health, are the better for it. I’m happier, more active, calmer, content, and able to help others. After all, when I’m not focusing inward, but upward, God is able to use me to minister to others. Maybe it’s just a smile. Or praying. Or a greeting hello. Or a hug. Or laughing with friends. Or even just listening. I ask Him each day to use me, to guide my steps, to make my spirit sweet. 

As I said, I’ve been praying about this day since the beginning of 2016. This year Valentine’s Day is a SUNDAY, so I'll be in church worshipping the SON. I sing with the music team and I’m ready for the songs about loving the Lord. The ladies on the team will be singing special music, and I’m spiritually and emotionally ready for that as well. I’ve learned (shock!) a good lesson, and several weeks ago I asked the music team to pray with me as I face this day, so that I’m able to face it with a smile on my face that reflects the joy in my heart.

After church, I’ll enjoy lunch with friends, just as I always do on Sunday, then home to rest and read and back to church in the evening. So this will simply be a normal Sunday: one spent in God’s house, with God’s people, praising our Savior—the perfect Valentine!


“We love, because He first loved us.”—1 John 4:19 (NASB)

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Hallelujah Moment

From my morning and afternoon devotions: this morning’s devotion really touched my heart in so many ways. It began, “Sometimes it feels as if God isn’t listening to me.” Yes, I often feel that way. I felt that way even more so when I prayed and begged for God to heal Mac and God chose not to do so. The scripture and commentary were a blessing to my heart. If you’d like to read it, you’ll find it here:


My day became busy and it wasn’t until after lunch that I was finally able to sit down for my daily ‘through the Bible in a year’ reading. The New Testament portion was Matthew 4 where we read of the temptation of Jesus by Satan. I’ve read this many, many, many times over the years, but today I had this exciting moment. I have come to call these “Hallelujah!” moments because it’s a moment when God opens my eyes to something in the Bible that once I see it, I wonder why it took me so long to notice or learn this lesson, and I have this desire to shout “HALLELUJAH!” Okay, when I’m home alone I actually do shout. Well, do you want to know what it was? Okay, I’ll tell you; but first you need to read Matthew 4:6. I’ll wait.

Did you see it? The devil quotes from the 91st Psalm! (vs11-12) One of my favorite Psalms, and one I just re-read a few days ago. Christ rebukes the devil for misapplying God’s Word, and that was a good reminder to me to seek guidance from the Holy Spirit as I study.

It totally thrilled my heart to read those words, to see how Christ responded, and to finally connect the dots from Old to New Testament. 

HALLELUJAH!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Feathers and wings


My devotions this morning came from Psalm 91. I cried through every word. This Psalm is precious to me for many reasons, not the least of which is because it’s God’s Word and in this Psalm He assures me, comforts me, gives me direction, and shows me His love.

This is also the first Psalm I memorized as a new Christian. The complete story of how I came to memorize this Psalm is one for the story books—but not for today. We’ll just say that I had gone to pick my late-husband up from work, and he was being held over for a bit, so I had time to wait. I didn’t want to risk running down the car battery by listening to the radio, so I grabbed the little Gideon’s Bible we kept in the car and began reading. I just picked passages at random, and then I decided to read the Psalms from the last few days devotions. One of those was Psalm 91. It had always touched my heart, but that night I found it even more appropriate: abiding under God’s shadow, being covered by His feathers and hiding under His wings, not being afraid for the terror by night, and lots more. I decided this would be a good Psalm to memorize, and that’s what I began doing. Reading over and over, and then reciting a few words, reading, reciting more and more. By the time I was heading for home, I knew the whole Psalm.

The next morning I had hubby read while I recited. He corrected a few things, and for the next week we worked on this Psalm until I knew it perfectly. Over the next 30 some years, he and I would often recite this Psalm together—seems he learned it along with me. ;) 

Over the last year of Mac’s life I recited this Psalm to myself many times: while sitting next to his bed in hospital rooms; while sitting in waiting rooms; while sitting at home watching him struggle to sleep, eat, breathe; and sitting with him as he lay in the hospice bed. After he was home with the Lord, I read this Psalm over and over and put it into practice. I let God become my refuge and my fortress. I trusted Him for every moment of every day. I found trust and security “under His wings”, and I was not afraid at night. God has truly watched over and protected me this past year, and I know He will continue to do so.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust...

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Birthday!

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 believe!” 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.

We traveled that path together for almost 36 years. 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)

Today I celebrate my 37th 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!