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!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Contentment and Endurance in Widowhood.

Not entirely sure where to start, or where this entry will lead, but I felt I needed to at least write something of my journey these days. This past month was full of big events: my birthday, Christmas, and New Years. Big days tend to make my reality a little more real. I know Troy is gone every day... trust me I know, but those days are supposed to be celebrating days. Its hard to celebrate without tears now. On those days, I wonder if there will ever be celebrating again with out tears. On my birthday, I heard a wonderful message about joy and sorrow. The pastor said, "You can have joy and be sad, but you can't be happy and sad." I very much relate to this fact. I know joy and happiness are two very different things. Happiness is a bit harder to come by these days. The honest truth is I would pick joy over happiness. The joy I have in my relationship with Christ is worth the cost of losing Troy.

I've been learning a lot about contentment. For a while after the accident, I kept thinking "maybe if this happened or if this occurred, then I could be happy." As the one year of loss passed, I somehow thought that a change of circumstance would bring  happiness. Definitely not the right thinking! Learning to be content in the here and now is where I am supposed to be. This is by no means an easy lesson for me. Nor have I successfully arrived. ;)

When you get married, you have your future planned out to some extent. In just one day, all of my plans were taken away. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the changes. I'm thankful that the Lord has allowed me to have a second chance to live in light of eternity. However; I struggle with the unknown of the future. Where will I be in three years? Will I ever have children? Will I still be working as an RN on L&D? A little over a year ago, I could have given an answer. It might not have been the right one, but I would have at least had an answer to these questions. Today... nope got nothing. I do, however, have an amazing Savior who gives me promises that I can cling to in these days of uncertainty. I read this the night of my birthday. Ps. 138 "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life...The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands." WOW! I love this verse and love the timing of it. It is truly amazing that on a day when I face yet another year of growing older with out Troy, another year of uncertainty about the future, my God gives me a jewel like this. He knows the plan and it is perfect. I just need to stop worrying and trust in His loving plan for me. I can do this when my thoughts stay focused on truth. Constant battle of the mind!

Also learning about this thing called perseverance. I love the verses from Romans 3 "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that our suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope." That last word "hope" is such a promise in light of the beginning of the verse. I want this word to be true in my life. I thought for a long time "Okay I'm rejoicing. Check. So when does this endurance thing kick in so I can have hope?" Had a nice discussion with one of my couch buddies about this verse recently when I was feeling a bit discouraged about life. She so kindly told me the endurance thing is not an "Ah-ha" moment of "Yes! I now have endurance." No, it is a daily battle of doing right. Oh, well not exactly what I was looking for, since I assumed once endurance was attained I would have hope, and life would be grand ;) Jokes on me ;) However; since learning this fact I'm encouraged knowing that because I chose to rejoice in this trial, I'm learning endurance thus changing my character and giving me that hope I so desperately need. The hope that He is making me more like His Son. The hope that He will fulfill His promises in my life. The hope that someday I will see Troy again. Most importantly the hope that one day all tears will be wiped away and there will be no more death or sorrow! Praise the Lord! :)

So basically a little after a year; sorrow still here, but learning contentment daily is still required. I must choose to keep thinking and doing right even when I don't want or feel like it!  The Christian life is not an easy one. We are promised trials.  The rewards for being faithful though are far better than any temporary happiness of this day and age.  Learning to see widowhood as a gift from God that will bring Him glory!