Trials and Blessings

hopeEach morning I start my day with a cup of coffee, my Bible, journal, a devotional book, and of course an assortment of colored pens.  Did I ever mention I have a “type A” personality?  I love to have my ducks in a row. Give me a spreadsheet, color-code the tabs and I am prepared to fearlessly face any situation.

The daily devotional book I use most days is Streams in the Desert.  This mighty little book, written many years ago and revised a few times, is a wonderful start to any day.  I have recommended it to a number of friends who were looking for something to get their day off right.

I can’t begin to tell you how often God has used this, used a Scripture from a given day, to reach me, to teach me, to prepare me and comfort me.  I have written personal comments on many of the pages; notes of crying out to God for answers, observations of His answers and a memo here and there affirming God’s presence, His love and His care.

This little book and I have been through much together.  I’m not sure when I started reading it but I began making notes in the margins in 2007.  I can pull out a journal from that year and match it up to a margin note and remember just what was happening in my life that day.  As you can imagine, there are some things I don’t really want to remember that often, but what a blessing it is to see how God has been there, working in the background of my life until I pulled Him up and into the center.  I have found that God doesn’t force His way in, He will wait until invited; but once you let Him in life will never be the same!

There was a time in our married life when Dave and I did not really believe in much of anything.  We knew who God was and had heard of Jesus, but it didn’t mean anything to us.  For years we plodded through life like this. We experienced a moment of happiness here and there, but not endless joy.  There was a glimmer of a good life sprinkled about, but no hope for tomorrow.

We didn’t know we were missing anything. Through a series of changes in our life, we moved to Ohio, met a few new people; were exposed to church through an invitation by the mother of one of our daughters. It took many years, but we finally grew in our faith – together.  That is the key; that is what makes the loss bearable.  We grew together.  If I did not know that my husband of 40+ years knew Jesus like he did I could not have said goodbye with joy and hope.

The November 23rd reading in Streams in the Desert had these words for me: “the trials of life are sent to make us, not break us.” It was trials that brought Dave and me to Jesus.  It was those same trials that grew us in faith, and kept us together.

Psalm 61:3-4 (NIV)  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Grace and Grins,

Judy

Learning to Live Alone

new houseThis topic could fill up a few posts and address a number of issues.  Living alone is one thing; being alone is another.  Learning how to make decisions after having had a partner to process things with, and talk over the pros and cons, is a big deal. For this writer, decision making became a major hurdle, one I did not struggle with before this season.

I found that I could seldom make a decision and stick with it.  Things that would have been simple to deal with suddenly became insurmountable.  I would second guess myself at every turn, crippling my confidence and destroying my self-assurance.

I find this to be a strange phenomenon because during the weeks my husband was ill I could handle anything and everything.  I was decisive, prayerful and self-assured and knew what to do in every emergency situation that arose; and there were a number of them over the eleven weeks prior to Dave’s death.

One of the reasons decision making became so difficult may have something to do with the plan Dave and I had begun to lay out for our future; for our retirement.  We were so sure that God was with us when we discovered the home in the north woods of Wisconsin.  This was Dave’s dream to retire in a cabin tucked away in a wooded area, close to hunting and fishing and nature in general.  It seemed to be God’s design when we found the perfect place and all the financing fell in line; even in the midst of the economic downturn our country was facing.

We were happy, we had a plan for the future; in fact we had a three year plan.  God had a three month plan. We had prayerfully made this decision and were convinced it was God’s will for us.  Now, I know it was God’s will and part of his perfect plan – his perfect three month plan.  I can see that now.  This realization is making it easier to move forward with confidence, that I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

There is more to this story, as God used those three months to grow Dave and me closer together.  He used this time to teach us ask the hard questions, to have the difficult discussions, and to draw us even closer to Him.  Then, God used the place in the north woods as a refuge for me for one year.  I moved from the home I knew for 33 years, to a new place; a place He hand-picked for me as part of the plan to heal my heart and reveal His goodness.

Won’t you share some of your journey?  This blog is meant to bring some of us together so we can encourage each other.  Our stories are important and they need to be told. As Sister’s in Christ we need to link arms and hold up each other, carry each other’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)

Grace and Grins,

Judy