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)







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)