Saturday, May 29, 2010

Africa's Joy

I haven't written in a while, but I do have a good excuse. I was in Africa for almost two weeks. It was a life-changing experience. I am so glad that the Lord opened that door for me. I came home appreciating everything. Especially little things like the toilet;) There were so many different things that I could talk about from this trip, but this blog is about my journey as a widow. So I'm going to focus on that part concerning Africa. Since the accident my views on heaven have been radically changed. For some reason, I had always thought of heaven as an eternal church service, clouds, mass singing....Very dreamlike. Thankfully, a good friend gave me a book that used Scripture to describe heaven. Total transformation in my Christian walk. I came to understand why Paul said "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." For me, creation has taken on a whole new meaning. I look around on a daily basis and think my God created this. Powerful, creative, all-knowing God made this earth and He loves me. These thoughts just blow my mind. I also think when I see a beautiful scenery that this is just a glimpse of what Troy is experiencing right now. One of the most profound things in Africa for me was the views. The rolling mountains, the clear blue sky, the white clouds touching the mountain tops, the untouched greenery....the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen and that is nothing compared to what Troy is seeing and exploring right now. I often think what new landscape he is awe struck by. If he ever thinks of me, wanting to show me what our amazing Savior has created for us. God has opened my eyes to come and appreciate the wind as a powerful example of Him in my life. It is invisible. I can't see it, but I can see the affects of it on things around me. I can feel it. These thoughts came to me one day sitting at the cemetery. I could see it in the trees and feel it, but I couldn't actually see wind. He created it and His creation is a reflection of His glory. It was a reminder that God is always with me even though I can't see Him. This concept of God never leaving me was most definitely emphasized on this trip. I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone as far as creature comforts, but I hadn't realized what a close support system I had created since the accident. I was with a group who had knew no idea who I was or what my life had been before the accident or even that there was an accident and I had lost my husband. It was very different for me, but in a good way. Because once again it brought me to that realization that God is more than enough. I only had one major breakdown which I consider successful in thirteen days;) It was after three days of clinic. That night I had this dawning realization I hadn't really thought about him for a while. I closed my eyes and I couldn't picture his face. The thoughts of moving on and meeting someone else had also come up. I felt horribly guilty. How could I forget and want to move on so easily? I immediately started crying. Thankfully had a place where I could get alone with God. I poured out my heart to the One who already knew this was coming. I spent a long time in prayer and reading. I was reminded once again of my need to surrender my wants to His will not mine. Reminded that this is His perfect plan. Its amazing the peace that comes when you let go and let Him have everything. As I sat there quietly resting in His peace, a small breeze came through the windows and I was reminded that God is always with me and His love is constantly surrounding me. Such an AMAZING God I serve! I'm reading Elizabeth Elliot's "A Path Through Suffering." Wonderful book and a great thing to read during this trip. The main lesson I have learned and continue to learn is death to self. God is using this suffering to grow and strengthen me. During this painful trial, I must constantly and I do mean constantly die to self. Only then will He be able to refine my life for His glory. She makes a statement "The greatest joy will have come forth out of the greatest sorrow." This is the place where God has brought me eight months after losing my husband. I have such joy in how God is working in my life to bring Him glory. Not that tears don't come, but even in those I know where to go and that He is teaching me something new in my sorrow. The trip taught me many lessons and I will use a quote to sum them up best. "But we never can prove the delights of His love until all on the alter we lay, for the favor He shows and the joy He bestows are for them who will trust and obey."

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Death and Joy

After my realization last weekend of keeping God first place in my life, I heard a message on Sunday re-enforcing this thought. Seeking God with all my heart was what I took home that day. I changed my reading time. Before I turn on the TV or get on the computer, I will do my daily reading. I also started reading other devotional books. Right now reading "Secure in the Everlasting Arms." Love it! I'm trying like Paul says in Ephesians 6 "praying at all times." Constantly talking to Him. God has taught me so many things in the last couple of days. One of the most important lessons I'm learning is patience. My life has changed so dramatically. I keep wanting to know how will God use this? What is my next step? Where is this headed? The answer I've been given is "wait, be still and know that I am God." My ministry, my purpose is right here right now: to serve the Lord at my work, church, friends, and family. I can with His strength honor and glorify Him where I am every day. Laura and I have this analogy of my life. I'm in an airplane cockpit. Right now there is dark clouds every where. Occasionally a ripple of light will show through, but mostly darkness. I read this verse last night "For it is You who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness." Another verse "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Wow, those are some very powerful truths from my Savior. I'm clinging to them because it is so true. I am surrounded in darkness, but the light I do have comes from the Bible. The Bible is such a comfort to my hurting heart. Everything I need or could ever think to need is in this wonderful book. Don't get me wrong. I have the answer to my hurting. Even more basic, how to live my daily life. The problem is the flesh has no desire to do this. It is a constant battle to deny flesh and focus on truth. Tonight was prime example. I was sitting on the couch. Just finished reading and the thought crossed my mind "I want some bubble gum." Well, there is no one here to get it, but me. Okay, Troy, just for the record missing you tonight;) So got in my car. I'm driving along call my good friend Jill. She answers and we talk for a minute. She says they have friends over. I jokingly say "thanks for the invite." She replies "oh you are more than welcome, but its all couples and I didn't think you would want to," Okay (breathe) so in my head I know this is fine. She is right, but that reality of "oh yes I'm not a couple" is sinking in. That little tickle in my throat started. I quickly say "Yes, yes I'm fine. Call me later. Have fun." Tickle going a little higher and my pity party begins. I'm all alone and I have no one to get me gum.(whine) So I call my couch buddy, Laura, because she can commiserate with the whole single thing. Of course, she doesn't answer in my major time of crisis. So I'm crying while driving(super safe I know) and I say "Lord, there is no one else to talk to. So I'm talking to You which is what You really wanted all along. I'm complaining and whining. I know this is wrong, but this is not fair. I don't want to be single. I want someone to go get my gum oh and also yesterday was cinco de mayo and I want a margarita. I know that drinking won't help and neither is my whining right now, but Lord I'm sad" As all this is coming out of my mouth, I'm reminded of what I've been learning this weekend. Truth time. Stop thoughts NOW. Die to self. Focus on what is true and right. This life is not about me, but loving God and others with my whole heart. My favorite verse right now is "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." So reminded the Lord has a plan and right now I'm to serve others and bring glory to His name. The peace and joy that have been slightly lacking the last two weeks are back now. I have truly realized how important spending time with Him is. The Christian life is not easy, but the rewards being stored in heaven are so worth it. Even more importantly my Savior saying, "Well done thou good and faithful servant." I want so badly to hear those words. Conclusion of this little update: daily surrender/death to me and follow Him on a day to day basis. This lesson will be an ongoing one I know;) When He is first, I have joy and peace even in trials. The best part of this trial is He is making me more like His Son. How could I ever question that....

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Despair to Desperation.

I haven't written in a couple of weeks. Honestly I've been seriously struggling. I remember thinking..."How can people say six to nine months is harder?" "I know, I have to have gone through the hardest part." "Plus, I have grown so much spiritually those specific months should not make much of a difference." NOPE! So very wrong. It actually feels harder today then four or five months ago. The reality of my "new normal" keeps hitting me over and over again. The sadness feels like it is smothering me. I can run no where that this heartbreak won't follow. Every time I wake up, go to work, drive in the car, hang out with friends, EVERYTHING I do has this sense of despair/loss hanging around me. The last two weeks have been particularly hard. I think I've cried more these past days than I did the whole month of March. I can't seem to focus my thoughts on truth. No, that isn't even it because I know the truth. I can't seem to trust in them. I haven't been spending as much time in the Word. Doing just the bare minimum. I haven't felt like it. God has felt so far away. I haven't had the energy to pursue Him.

Today, was by far one of the worst. It started off okay. Woke up and got ready. Went to lunch with a friend and talked about Uganda. The day was just rolling along. Then got home and it HIT. What you ask? Really I don't know other than uncontrollable crying. I went into the spare bedroom where Troy's stuff is. Laid on the bed and lost it. Heart wrenching sobs of this reality: He is not coming back and it will most likely be a very long time till I see him again. Where everyone else my age is getting married and having kids. I'm dealing with exact opposite of those happy events. I have really struggled with "this is not fair" and "I'm done. I can NOT do this anymore." I laid in bed crying and crying then finally crying out to God "Where are you? I quit. Do you hear me? I quit. I can't feel this pain anymore. Please take me home too. This is too hard. I can't feel that peace and joy right now. I don't want this path anymore. I hurt. This hurts so much. Too much. Do you hear me?" I finally made it up off the bed and opened the word. What came next, was not this magical moment when everything just disappeared and I knew I could go on. No, what came next was me falling on my knees begging for forgiveness. I came to the startling realization I did not have God first in my life. Some where over the last couple weeks, He went from first to being replaced by yours truly as first. I had let my time with Him slip into a routine. Not something I desperately needed. So He brought me to desperately needing Him. I needed this. To see how easy it is for me to replace Him and to be reminded His strength is made perfect in my weakness. I am still struggling tonight to not cry at the drop of a hat. Every time I feel my emotions raging up, I HAVE to discipline my mind to think on truth. This is not something that is coming easy for me, but I must. These are some of the things that I have been reminded of today and am clinging to with everything I have. His grace is sufficient and I'm begging for it right now. I'm His child and there is NO one who can pluck me out of His hand. He knows exactly how I'm feeling and is holding me in His arms. He is always up to something good in my life: plans for me to prosper. Most importantly, again focused on the cross. His sacrifice demonstrates His amazing, selfless love. How can I question that same God could have made a mistake in this situation. I have peace tonight and my focus has returned heavenward. I am here for a purpose to serve my Father and bring Him glory. This is my prayer....