Thursday, February 19, 2015

What does "God is Enough" mean practically???

     I survived my trip away.  Brogan did fine and so did mommy ;).  As I have often seen, God has a sense of humor.  I spent weeks worrying about being gone for so many days: six long ones!!!  We fly to Boston and what is predicted for the weekend…A Blizzard!  So instead of six days our trip was cut short to three days.  We had to fly out early so Adam could make sure he was back for work on Monday.  Instead of being thrilled to be home early, I was disappointed that we didn't have our full vacation away just the two of us.  The discontent of my heart rears its ugly head.  Isn't it funny that no matter what happens we can easily find a way to be dissatisfied.  I am thankful for our time away, and laugh with God that He answered my prayer of being home with my little one safely it was just a little earlier than I expected.

     The weeks leading up to the trip were so good for me.  I talked last time about my fears and anxiety about leaving.  I shared my frustration of having this constant battle without seeing any victory.  The Lord has graciously shown me victory and some insight into this struggle of mine.  So here are some updated thoughts….

       I have seen my anxiety increase with the birth of Brogan and then even more with this pregnancy.  I have often read, heard, or even thought this is a normal part of motherhood. Mothers worry!  We have a tender heart for our children and want the best for them.  We know we can't control everything.  So in creeps doubts and fears of all the "what if" possibilities.  This is normal right?  I'm a good mother if I'm thinking ahead or let's be honest worrying about the future, right?  Well, maybe not.  I think Scripture calls me out and rebukes me with a big, fat "NO".  No, it isn't right that I worry or fear or be anxious.  The Bible pretty clearly calls this sin. Yikes!  I have seen this pattern of thinking over the last year and the sin that it is, but until I started reading that book I wasn't seeing victory.  It was just a constant battle.  I have seen over the last couple weeks much progress in this area.  God's grace!!!  He has reminded me of truth.  Not just thinking truth, but applying it.  Here are somethings that God has been laying on my heart in this area….

         I know the answer to conquering sin: put off, renew, put on.  Okay step one: "put off".   I have done a decent job of that: stop thinking lies (the "what if" scenarios).  However; the other two steps I was not doing such a good job.  "Renewing my mind" was not a priority.  I was in God's Word daily, but I was not spending time renewing/dwelling/applying the truths I was reading.  God in His wisdom knew I needed a little push to see my sin.  He gave me a trip to Boston.  A trip where I couldn't control every detail.  Isn't that what worry is often about?  Our ability to control.  We like to be independent.  We like to think we have life just as we want it and we do not need any help.  We control our destiny.  Right?  Wrong! The truth is even when we think we are in control, let's be honest, we really are not. This idea of control is not at all how God has life planned for the believer.   So God gave me a trip to remind me that I need Him and His truths are enough for me.  I begin to realize the importance of what I was putting into my mind.  This meant also being very careful to not put certain things in my mind.  I have come to realize t.v. shows, the news, even (gasp) social media will affect my thinking.  I know I am not called to give up everything in the world and live a hermit's existence, but His Word clearly teaches what goes into my mind will come out.  So I have been diligent in avoiding things that will cause me to be unnecessarily anxious.  For instance: after Troy died I joked about only watching Law and Order because there was no romance.  True, there was no romance, but there is a lot of death.  That constant diet of death was not healthy in my thinking truth. Instead it was causing me to fear death and all the "what if" scenarios I had seen on t.v. were now playing out in my mind.  I have had to "put off" several things that were not helpful in my thinking.  I have begun to evaluate carefully what I am putting into my mind by Philippians 4:8….is it just, is it pure, is it lovely, is it commendable, is there any excellence?  If so, then Paul says, "Think about these things."  The second thing the Lord is teaching me is being diligent in "putting on" the things that I am learning in the "renewing" my mind step.  I have a box filled with passages of Scripture on note cards.  I call this my truth box, but I haven't used it since I got married.  It is just not practical for me today.  I knew I needed a new way of focusing on truths.  So I have a Bible that had never been written in.  It has become my truth box.  I have highlighters that go with this Bible.  When I read, I highlight truths: Blue-truths about God, Green-commands, and Pink-promises.  I now have a practical truth box that works for me.  I have spend much time in His Word these past weeks being reminded of who He is and what He promises.  It has been so refreshing!  I see my love for His Word re-awakened.  I have seen the fears diminishing as I trust these promises and trust the One who made them.  Not perfect, but by His grace seeing victory.

        So trip is over and that impending doom feeling I was experiencing is gone, but my lessons of dependence have not ended.  The Lord taught me something so beautiful this morning….I have often thought of the accident as an experience that will forever change my thinking about life.  I thought it was a bit of a curse that I would always go to worst case scenarios in my mind because I knew those things could happen.  In so many ways, I have seen God's hand at work and am so thankful for all He did through losing Troy.  I just thought this was part of my new normal.  To be honest, I was a little jealous of people who didn't struggle with this type of thinking.   For instance, Adam does not think like this.  I have often wished I could be like him: a little more optimistic!  Today, God gave me a new vision of this thinking.  It is not a curse.  It is a blessing.  What???  Let me explain….I'm reading through Deuteronomy right now.  God is constantly telling the Israelites to not forget Him and His commands when they come into the land.  He is reminding them when life is comfortable do not forget Who brought you here.  Do not become independent.  Remember who I am and what I have done….They did not and we can see the consequences as we read through the rest of the Old Testament.  Losing Troy is a reminder to be dependent on God.  It is my thorn.  God is not going to remove because it keeps me dependent on His sufficient grace.  It does NOT mean I have the right to worry or be pessimistic, but instead it reminds me to turn to the One who will give me strength to think, believe, and rest in truth.  I know I can easily become independent in my way of living.   So the accident is way of God keeping me constantly dependent on Him.

         I am learning to be diligent in spending time with my God and believing His Word.  I see promise after promise that I can rest in and that IS peaceful!  Through the loss of Troy, He is ever reminding me of my need to be dependent on Him and that IS for my good!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Is God enough for me?

      Five and half years since the accident.  Time goes quickly.  I look back over those years and rejoice in God's working in my life.  I have learned so much about Him in those years.  I have seen His blessings in giving and taking away.  I have had the amazing privilege to be under sound teaching at school, churches, camps, and conferences.  These wonderful opportunities grew my knowledge of God.  This knowledge God used to change many aspects of my daily living.  I say all this to sum up how I have viewed at least the last six months of my life Christian living: lots of head knowledge.  Let's see if I can explain it out a bit more…
       I have grown.  I can look back and see radical differences in my life since September 30, 2009.  I see ups and downs, but always an upward move to becoming more like Christ.  However; the last six months have been a struggle for me in my walk.  I know the right things to say and even do.  It is not that I haven't been growing or feel that I am in a valley.  It hasn't been that drastic.  Instead it has been this slow movement towards doubtful thinking.  After Brogan was born, new sets of fear set in.  The "what if" thinking reared its ugly head again.  I knew how to battle it though this time: Think Truth.  I applied this lesson of thinking truth often over the next year.  I didn't feel victorious though just settled with the idea that I was going to struggle with fear/anxiety.  I thought it would be a constant battle in my mind to keep dispelling the untruths with truths about God.  This struggle has been going on for some time, but it was not overwhelming just a bit discouraging at times.  It wasn't always even there.  The fear would often come and go depending on the circumstances of life.  I mostly chalked it up to: I have walked through tragedy and so now I will always go to worst case scenarios.  At times even thinking, this is part of the scaring/discipline of God in taking Troy home.  Please don't misunderstand, I was not hopeless.  I was resigned and rejoicing in other areas where I saw God growing me.  Fast forward to these last couple of weeks…

        My fear has reared its ugly head a bit more often and more frequently.  Adam and I are going out of town for the first time without Brogan.  My "what if" scenarios have become a broken record in my head.  "What if something happens to us?"  "What if something happens to him when I am across the country?"  Then daily fears will creep into these thoughts.  "What if something happens to this pregnancy?"  "What if we can't sell the house?"  "What if my parenting isn't good enough?"  "What if something happens to me and I can't raise Brogan the way I want?"  "What if something happens to Brogan while he is sleeping in his crib?"  "What if, Adam is late because he was in accident?"  Okay, you get the point of my irrational "what if" thinking pattern.  I know these are not truths and I have to take them captive.  I would pray and ask God for help in not thinking this way and then ask that He make sure none of these happened.  I would quote truths I knew "He will never leave me or His grace is sufficient."  I would do my best to forget the thinking and move on.  This is not hopeful!  I wanted victory not just a resigned attitude to a constant battle.

       I started reading a book with a couple of other ladies these past couple of weeks.  It was one I have read before, but it has been a while.  The content was not new information, but it hit me hard because it was information I knew and was not applying.   I have had two problems these last six months.  Number one problem:  I have knowledge with no application.  I knew truths about God and His ways, but I was not believing them.  I had very much come to a place where my view of God was based on my past or current circumstances instead of what Scripture said.  I didn't believe God was always going to do good.  I was waiting for another loss or trial and I thought that was not a good God.  I didn't believe He would never leave me.  I thought whatever the future held was terrifying because I couldn't control it.  I didn't believe He would be there every step of the way.  I knew truths many of them, but I was NOT believing them.  My fear had grown from just "what if" possibilities to a fear of God and His plans for my life.  I was seeing Him through my circumstantial lens instead of through Scripture.  Number two problem:  I would do better than God with my life.  I was fearful of His plans and complete submission to Him seemed impossible.  I was living not totally surrendered to Him.  My pastor recently made comment about Abraham and Isaac. He was discussing how Abraham was able to come to point of being willing to sacrifice his only son.  He said Abraham had rock-solid faith in God.  I knew at that moment I did not!

          The book has hit me hard in my lack of faith and submission.  Until today, I couldn't see all my sin clearly laid out.  God in His wonderful mercy has laid out my failures and lack of faith.  He has shown me my areas of unbelief.  It is not a fun place to be to see all the filth that is so easily in my heart.  How much that grows when a small sin (thinking "what if" scenarios) is not confessed and forsaken immediately.  I have been growing that unbelief sin for a long time.  I didn't see my need to submit all things always to Him.  I grew in my thinking that "I knew better" and pride took hold of my heart.  The fruit of fear and anxiety have just become more apparent in the last month as new circumstance bring out my wicked heart. So here is my confession: My true fears stem from my pride which is a lack of faith in who God is and what He is doing.  As God has brought me to submission to Him in all things of my life, I know His peace.  He gives peace not found in this world or Adam or Brogan or financial security.  He gives true peace….God is still working.  I have much knowledge I must move from my head to my heart.  I must believe what is true about God and not what I feel.  God is working this in my life as I spend more time with Him.  Not just my checklist time, but truly renewing my mind in His truths.  I desire to say and truly mean like Paul, "I have learned that whatever state I am in to be content."  Paul had constant peace and did not worry because He knew His God.  This is my prayer to know my God intimately not just on the surface or rest in previous knowledge, but to KNOW Him.    I want to "know God well enough to be satisfied that He Himself is enough for me."

      So here is an update on my journey in life.  It is no longer my journey in widowhood.  No, God has changed that, but I am still on a journey towards learning His sufficient grace in all things.  I end these thoughts, thanking God He hasn't stopped working on me and revealing areas where I fall so short of His calling.  I thank Him for the hope I find only in His Word.  I thank Him for using that Word to change me more into the image of His Son.  I still have much growth, but so thankful He is giving me grace to learn to say daily, "He is more than enough!"

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The fear of suffering dispelled by surrender to God's grace...

Wow, it has been a long time since I have sat down to write.  In many ways, I thought this part of my journey had ended.  On June 23, 2012, the Lord graciously heard my prayers and gave me my Adam.  Well, I was wrong. Shocking, I know ha!  The journey in widowhood has changed, but it has not ended.  Let's see if I can explain the lessons God is drilling into my life these days….Fear and anxiety are my enemies and lately constant companions.

In order for my struggles today to make sense, I need to rewind a bit and do a quick recap of some things from the beginning of this journey.   Before 2009, I always thought bad things happen to other people.  I saw and even attempted to grieve with others who walked that path of loss or tragedy.  However; that was for others.  I was immune from anything like that happening to me.  Why I thought this way?  I don't know, but it was my own "blissfully unaware of true loss reality" that I lived in.  It worked for me.  To be honest, it made perfect sense.  I really hadn't had any real loss or tragic thing occur in my life. September 30, 2009 changed that reality.  I came face to face with significant loss and it forever changed me.  God led me to the valley of the shadow of death and in the valley re-shaped my life.  He taught me so many lessons about true joy in loss, patience, trust, who He was, faith, living for eternity, and so many more.  Many of the previous entries are about those lessons….God healed my broken heart, but there is a scar that remains.  A loss of that significance can never leave a person unchanged.  I am thankful God used the loss to make me more like Him….

Fast forward a bit…It has now been five years since that day. Many things have changed.  The Lord answered my prayers for a family.  I am now re-married and have an almost six month old.  I am truly thankful and blessed!!!!  Let's see if I can make sense of the lessons that are continuing from my journey that started five years ago.  Initially after Troy died, I struggled with fear and levels of anxiety.  However; God lovingly guided me into His presence through His word and gave me victory.  I spent the next few years struggling with many things, but those were not on the list.  When Adam came into the picture, the fear returned a bit.  I knew and trusted God's sovereignty.  I rested in knowing that nothing could happen outside of His will.  However; I knew that He was in control the day Troy died too.  So I had to dig deeper into truth more than just God is sovereign.  I had to remember other characteristics of God.  He is love.  He is kind.  He will give grace.  I also was learning to not live in "what if'ville."  I had grace when Troy died that I do not have right now for my married life with Adam.  These are the truths I preached often to myself when Adam and I first got married.  When we reached fourteen months of marriage (a month longer than my previous marriage), I reflected a lot on how different things were between the two marriages.  Troy and I did not have God at the center of our lives.  In losing Troy, God shook me to my core and radically changed my life.  Today, I can look back and see the beautiful tapestry that God was weaving in that loss.  However; I don't have that perspective on all aspects of my life.  I can look back and see God working in that loss, but that may not always be the case.  Adam and I are by God's grace living a life for Him.  We are far from perfect, but God is working and we desire His work in our lives.  Here is where lies began to creep in and take root.  "I'm living right now so God should not bring suffering or trials into my life." Or another lie that frequently runs through my head, "When is something going to happen because life can not be this good?"  I try to fight these lies with truth.  However; they are there somewhere in my mind.  Fast forward a little more….God answered and gave me a son.  I feel truly blessed and now I'm waiting for the shoe to drop.  I have now had frequent thoughts since Brogan was born, "When is something bad going to happen?"  My idea of God has been shaped by my previous loss, but that doesn't mean it is true.  It is my perspective.  I have often wondered if people who walk through tragedy struggle with waiting for it to happen again.  I know I have….The joy of being happily married and a healthy baby has often been followed by fears of when is it going to end.

These fears have been following me the last couple of months.  Fear has not been a constant companion, but it has been definitely been a companion.  

"I know God is in control.  
I can't do anything to keep me, Brogan, or Adam alive.  
I must rest in Him.  
I know He is trustworthy. 
He loves me.  
He sent His Son to save me.  
I can't even begin to comprehend this love."  

These are truths I would preach to myself when the fear or anxiety would become too much.  The truth would pierce the fear and peace would follow.  I am commanded to not fear.  I am commanded to not be anxious.  I am told to pray. I am commanded to take every thought captive.  These are my weapons against the devil's lies.  So this has been my struggle for the last couple of months.  Ups and downs in my thought life….Then it happened.  Tragic loss again!  Last week Adam and I found out we were pregnant and a couple of days later we weren't.  How could this happen?  My immediate thoughts were: "God I have already lost a husband. It is not fair for you to take my baby too."  The fear and anxiety returned full force.  I was experiencing my fear that I was not immune to loss just because I had previously walked through tragedy.  What if God thought I needed to grow through losing Adam or Brogan?  What if more loss was part of my sanctification?  No, God I do not want that!  Fear was taking over my life after losing this little one.  What else would God require?  Irrational thoughts of death, loss, pain, and more trials became constant in my mind.  God was working.  He was showing me the heavy load of fear I was carrying and had been carrying for quite some time.  It was in this loss I realized just how heavy and overwhelming it had become.  So what is God teaching me today….

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ….. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy…..Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed….Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."

First thing I am learning is that tragedy or blessing God is always in control.  I think this has been one of the hardest lessons for my mind to wrap around.  How can I trust God's sovereignty when I know He may bring loss? This is where the next lessons come into play.  I am chosen.  I have been taken out of darkness and placed into light.  What mercy!  Here is where I see so clearly His amazing love for me.  If the Creator of the universe picked me to shower the blessing of being His, I can not doubt His love in anything He gives to me.   I am also being reminded of eternity.  These trials are refining me to bring my God glory.  In many ways, I can see God's glory displayed through Troy's death.  At this moment, I can not see the glory in taking this little one home like I do in Troy's home going.   When God brings other trials, I may not be able to see benefit this side of heaven.  Does that mean I won't trust that He is working just as He did in Troy's death?  God's grace is sufficient as I walk through trials, but it is also His grace in allowing that trial.  This is the lesson that God is continually showing me through His word and books.  His grace is being given to me daily as part of my growth in Him.  It is His grace towards me that saved me.  It is His grace toward me that took my husband home after thirteen months of marriage. It is His grace that took our second baby to heaven before I could hold the little one in my arms.  Grace is more than God not giving me what I deserve although that is true.  Grace is God not giving me what I deserve and giving me exactly what I need to be more like Him.  It may be through a trial or through a blessing that God displays His grace.  Whatever He gives is gracious.  After losing Troy, I would say time and time again "His grace is sufficient."  I am now learning His grace is going to bring things into my life to grow me.  The bottom line is will I entrust my soul to my Creator for whatever His will deems necessary to make my more like Him?  This is where God has brought me once again, "Sarah, will you trust Me to give you exactly what you need in this life to bring Me glory?"  For many months, the answer was "not really."  Through another loss, God has once again brought me to dependence on Him.  I must take captive these lies that doubt God's goodness and place me as knowing better than my infinitely wise Creator.   The scars of loss do not give me an excuse to fear or worry about the future.  Instead these scars are just that scars.  They are wounds that have been healed or being healed by a Father that turns mourning into joy. 

I sang these words this morning and it perfectly sums up the surrender that is taking place in my heart:
"May this journey bring a blessing
May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart's testing
With Your likeness let me wake.
Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go
And at the end of this long passage
Let me leave them at Your throne."

I do not know the future.  I do not know the continued journey God has planned. I do not know whether blessings or trials are around the corner.  However; this one thing I do know, God will give me whatever He graciously sees fit for my good and His glory.  I must take captive the sinful thoughts that lead to fear/anxiety and rest in the truth: God is always good!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Patience 101. Faith 102. God's Goodness 103.

Lessons in Widowhood 201 are difficult, and not always  the easiest to explain, but going to try to catch everyone up on the specific things that God is teaching me as I enter new stages of widowhood.....

Several weeks ago I was catching up with a wise man who listened to me talk about where I was, and how life had changed since last summer.  I told him I was doing well, but he kept questioning, and finally proceeded to break down some barriers, and get to some deeper issues.  The truth is I have been struggling with patience, waiting on God's timing.  He gave me an analogy that I was in a class.  God had signed me up for this "one on one" class with Him.  He was my teacher, and I was going to have quizzes and tests and maybe even a paper (decided this blog is my paper haha).  This was how I was to look at my patience lesson.  I thought okay this is an interesting way of viewing things, and it definitely gave me something to think about well about two days later I read these verses.  Isaiah 30:19-20 "For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.  And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.'" WOW...okay now I really saw that the Lord was wanting to teach me something!  So my eyes were opened to this idea.  A week or two later I spoke with another wise man, and he told me that every trial or affliction is a fork in the road: it can be a test from God or a temptation from Satan.  A choice must be made as to which we will allow it to be.  So with these two thoughts of "I'm in a class, and I want this to be God testing me to make me more like Him" I was ready for something....

Something came by way of huge breakdown last weekend.  I lost it every five seconds tears would come falling down.  I missed Troy.  I felt all alone.  I had no hope.  I was miserable on the couch, crying, wrapped in his bike jacket. I looked at pictures, and remembered how it used to feel in his arms.  I watched our wedding video just to try and remember what his voice sounded like.  I will never kiss him again. I was so lonely and tired of being this way.  Will I ever be able to share my life with another?  What if I'm alone for the rest of my life?  What if..What if...What if... I think you get the picture...focused on "me" and "circumstances" no truth involved at all that weekend!

Monday, I went back to camp with a realization I was wrong, and confession to God about my selfishness, but no real hope.  The message that night was about God's goodness.  Awww...the truth is several of the messages this summer have been about God's goodness. Yes, He was trying to get my attention.  It has just taken me a while to hear.  So message starts, and I realize I can't sit and listen.  I need to get away because tears were quickly coming.  The lesson and testing were here: "Do you believe God is good all the time?"  I could easily answer "Yes, God is good looking back at the past."  However; where the future is concered the honest answer was "No!"  Before the accident, bad things do happen, but nothing like that ever happens to me.  I didn't think that tragedies would ever affect me personally.  Selfish, yes, but just thought I was immune.  Well now I know it can, it did, and could happen again.  So in the back of my head there is this doubting voice of something bad could happen today or tomorrow, and you don't know what the future holds.  This voice caused me to really doubt God's goodness all the time.  I left the message, got on my knees with a Bible in front of me, begging and crying for God to help me.  I wanted to believe what I knew in my head was true.  I turned to the passage in 1 Peter 4:19 and WHAM God hit me over the head with this verse: "Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."  His will is for me to be a widow, and all the pain that comes with it.  BUT He is faithful!  Do I trust His faithfulness?  What do I know about faith so I went to Hebrews and read the following verses: "let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (because of what Christ did on the cross) "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."  With all these truths in mind, my test from God is not really anything to do with patience because if I believed then I would not worry because I would be resting in the truth He is faithful and good.  So really the lesson He is teaching me is FAITH!  The truth is "No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly."  If I believe God is good, then I know that even though I can't see the future, anything that is coming will be good because that is what He says. God is stretching me in my faith and this is a hard lesson, but sooo good.  I am learning to sit back, and wait as He opens doors, points me in new directions, and teaches me much needed lessons in all areas of my life.  Because I believe He is good I rest patiently!  The end of the verse in 2 Peter says "while doing good."  This means for right now, I do the next right thing while I wait for Him to continue to lead me.  Right now...I'm at camp, and this is the ministry God has given me.  I know that I need nothing else in my life because if I did He would give it to me.

This weekend HUGE difference.  Joy and peace are flowing from my life.  I want to shout from the rooftops "HE is good" and "It is worth it to lose all for His sake" "He knows best" "He loves me wretch that I am" and on and on I can go.  I pray that all this makes sense as it has been such a good journey God has been leading me on this summer.....I end with these lyrics because this where I stand tonight on the twenty-two month anniversary of Troy going home....
"I can hear it in the distance
And its not too far away
Its the music and the laughter
of a wedding and a feast
I can almost feel the hand of God
Reaching for my face
To wipe the tears away
Say its time to make everything new
Make it all new
This is our hope
This is a promise
This is our hope
It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that's been made
Out of the ashes, out of the ashes
It will take our breath away
To see the beauty that He's made
Out of these ashes beauty will rise
We will dance among the ruins
We will see it with our own eyes
Out of this darkness new light will shine
And we'll know the joy that's coming in the morning"


Saturday, July 9, 2011


Since I am on a roll today of catching up on life, I thought why not keep going by adding another entry here ;) I'm backtracking a bit since this is from about a month ago when I traveled to Israel, but Jerusalem was one of the high points of my trip so wanted to share.  Being a widow, this city meant so much to me because I know one day I will be in the New Jerusalem with Troy :)  However; more importantly it was here that my Savior died and rose again.  It is because of what He did here that I have hope!!!  It was what happened here that radically changed my life.  Here God demonstrated His grace, mercy, and love in way my mind will never be able to comprehend.  This song was playing while we drove into the city, and brought tears to my eyes.  I thought it was perfect to use for these pictures..... So here is a little slideshow of some of the highlights of the city.  Hope you enjoy :)

Holy Land City: Jerusalem Slideshow: Sarah’s trip from Greenville, South Carolina, United States to Jerusalem, Israel was created by TripAdvisor. See another Jerusalem slideshow. Create your own stunning free slideshow from your travel photos.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Long overdue update!

Wow, I've slacked on keeping up on this blog.  I would blame lack of time, which would be partly true, but really just an excuse.  I'm sure at some point I could have found the time to write about this journey.  I just passed the twenty-one month mark.  I can hardly believe two years is around the corner.  This will not be long although it should because so much has happened since I last wrote.  This is just an update and hopefully a small step into writing again.  I was reading back, and this has been a great way to keep track of this journey. 

Mini update: Finished first year of graduate school.  Spent two weeks in Israel and Jordan (definitely should have blogged about that AMAZING trip).  Now working at camp again.

So what is life like these days...that's a loaded question.  I hate, hate, hate the idea of moving on, but I guess that is part of living life without that person.  So in the "new normal" of life....I sold his motorcycle.  That was huge! Tears came, but also relief in finally making a decision.  I no longer wear his ring everyday.  It is my security blanket, and comes on and off dependent on my level of grief.  I don't look at pictures very often.    The cemetery visits are only occasional now.  I don't always realize it's the 30th each month.  I don't cry every day, or even every other day.  I can go over a week now without tears yay!  I think less and less of what life could be if he were still here.  I can on a rare occasion watch a romantic movie again.  However; tears do usually follow so not my first choice.  At 5 o'clock every day, I no longer think he should be walking through the door finally home from work.  I don't lose it when I hear or see a motorcycle.  I've been to a wedding, and survived to tell of it ;)  Random things I realize, but all parts of this learning a "new normal."

The lessons God has been teaching me would seriously take all night to type up.  So basics are faith and patience.  My truth box has turned into a real idea!  I have a box now, and am constantly writing down truths He is teaching me.  A little back drop to what the Lord is doing now.... The second semester of school was a little bit of just coasting through life.  Being my independent self ;) unsure of the future, and worrying that God was done working.  My time with Him was daily, but not very productive.  Fears and independence were rearing their ugly head in my life.  Thankfully God hasn't allowed me to stay there.  So these days I'm mediating on He is walking right with me through this trial.  "Fear Not!"  He will not forsake me!  Thank goodness since this is one rough journey.  These past few weeks have been quite a struggle of realizing how much I know truth, but do I believe.  No matter what the circumstances do I believe God is who He says He is and will do what He promises?  God has been stretching/testing me in walking by faith not sight.  Many tearful nights, crying out what are you doing???  He is teaching me trust and wait patiently.  Not my strengths!  Good thing He is patient ;)  These difficult lessons have drawn me closer to Him, and that is worth every tear and every second of wondering about the unknown future.  I've been driven to His Word and to my knees.  Doubt and worry are being cast aside as I see the many promises He has given me.

So not the longest or most in depth about this journey, but a mini update of the last several months.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Acceptance and the Truths of Hope and Sacrifice.

Life is busy these days.  School and work are going at full force, but busy is good for me.  Busy helps keep my focus on the present.  The Lord has been teaching me some huge lessons this past month.  I knew it was time to share, as these have affected my journey in widowhood.  I read a poem a couple of weeks ago by Amy Carmichael and must write it here in order for you to fully understand where this change started.

He said, "I will forget the dying faces;
The empty places—
They shall be filled again;
O voices mourning deep within me, cease."
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in forgetting lieth peace.

He said, "I will crowd action upon action,
The strife of faction
Shall stir my spirit to flame;
O tears that drown the fire of manhood, cease."
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in endeavour lieth peace.

He said, "I will withdraw me and be quiet,
Why meddle in life's riot?
Shut be my door to pain.
Desire, thou dost befool me, thou shalt cease."
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in aloofness lieth peace.

He said, "I will submit; I am defeated;
God hath depleted
My life of its rich gain.
O futile murmurings; why will ye not cease?"
Vain, vain the word; vain, vain:
Not in submission lieth peace.

He said, "I will accept the breaking sorrow
Which God to-morrow
Will to His son explain."
Then did the turmoil deep within him cease.
Not vain the word, not vain;
For in acceptance lieth peace.

I have often said, "I know taking Troy home was God's perfect will."  Knowing and believing are good things, but they in themselves are not enough.  I was brought to the realization that acceptance is the next step.  This has not been an easy lesson to learn, but with grace, God's teaching me.  I must accept His perfect will, and there lies the peace I so desperately need.  I must continually go back to this truth because it is something I can easily forget.  As a wise man has often said, "Unbelief is believing a lie about God.  Belief is believing the truth about God."  How often I have found myself these past months wandering off the straight and narrow path of truth to the slippery path of unbelief.  It is very easy for me to get started down this slippery slope of lies, and once off, its so easy to keep slipping down.  The slip starts with thoughts that sound something like this...
I need something (not God) to make these tears subside. LIE # 1
I know God can, but I don't think He will change my life.  I will be forever stuck in this grief.  LIE # 2
I'm never going to be happy again.  LIE # 3
God is not working in my life.  LIE # 4
It is so so easy for me to start thinking these lies, and before I know it I've slipped into despair.  Thankfully my Heavenly Father has helped me numerous times out of this pit and back into His loving arms and the truth of His words.

This past month the Lord has so graciously continued to work in my heart.  I not only believe Troy's homegoing was God's perfect will, but accept it as His perfect will.  It is a constant battle of keeping my mind focused on the truth.  I know in this world there is a cost in discipleship. There is sacrifice in this life.  Sacrifice of things I want.  Sacrifice of time. Sacrifice of things I love.  This is not the full picture though.  The sacrifices are what Jesus calls us to do.  Those are the treasures we are laying up in heaven.  When we take our last breath and the coffin lid is closed, there is nothing of this material world we are taking with us.  However; if we have lived as we are called to do in the Bible our treasures are waiting for us.  This is the truth I must focus on, but there is a far better truth that I must constantly return to.  The Cross.  It is here that I see the ultimate sacrifice.  The ultimate gift of love.  It is here where my hope lies.  As I close this blog, I pray that each person who reads this will meditate on this truth when things are difficult or life seems overwhelming.  I (a wretched, selfish, prideful sinner) was loved by a Holy, Perfect God.  It was on the cross He took my punishment in order that I may stand redeemed in His presence one day.  This is the ultimate hope.  I will one day spend eternity with my Savior.  I truly can only imagine what that day will be like when surrounded by His glory. Will I stand in His presence, or to my knees will I fall?  Troy is experiencing this great joy.  He has finished his course and is enjoying the glories of heaven.  I must press on in this journey always keeping the prominence of truth and the glory of the gospel in my mind.  Father, not my will, but Thine!