Monday, April 30, 2012


I used to think I had God all figured out.  I used to think I knew so much about Him. I used to think I understood His ways. I used to think.  But the farther I walk with God the more I realize how little I know.  To quote a pastor at my church "all I have learned is how dumb I am."  God is immeasurable.  He is incomprehendable.  He has a depth, height and breadth which cannot be grasped.

The moment we begin to think we have it all figured out, or that we know it all, we need to stop!  We need to stop thinking and start walking with God. As we walk with Him, we experience Him in new ways.  We allow God to show us things we never understood.  We begin to live things we once thought were impossible.  God is so much greater and deeper than our simple minds.  The longer I walk with Him, I realize how much more there is to Him than I realized.

I once thought I had an understanding of His love.  I'm not negating my experience, knowledge or personal understanding I have gained through the year.  But I am continually learning more and more about Him and His love.  I realize even the great depth of understanding I once had, is just a drop compared to the ocean of depth there is to Him.

Think of your marriage.  When you first met your spouse you had a limited knowledge of them.  You only scratched the surface in who they are, their personality and what choices they make.  Then you became engaged.  You dove just a little deeper.  You are no longer walking on the beach, with the water brushing against your feet.  You are now wading in the water, knee deep.  You understand them more.  You see how their past has shaped who they are.  You not only understand their personality but can predict what they need from you because of that personality make up.  You move beyond predicting the decisions they will make to understanding why they make those decisions.

Then you get married, and during your first year together you develop an intimacy.  You finish each other's thoughts and sentences.  You ofter wonder how you ever got along without them.  Now you are waist deep in the ocean.  You know them better than anyone.  But as time continues, you are now swimming in the ocean.  You wonder where they start and you end.  You develop a deeper understanding of how they work and what their needs are.  You often feel like you know them better than they know themselves.  Even now that my late husband is gone, I continue to gain a deeper understanding of him.  I thought when we got married I "knew" him.  Five years into the marriage I thought I had him figured out.  But the longer time passes the more I realize how my understanding of him as a person has grown.

That's how it is with God.  The more we walk with Him, the more time we spend, the more there is to know.  Unlike a spouse, God is not limited.  Just as there seems to be no end to the ocean, its length and depth, as you stand on the shore, there is no end to God. There are so many facets to Him which He desires to reveal to us.  Just because we understand an aspect of Him doesn't mean we understand all that there is.  Just because we know what a verse means, doesn't mean there isn't more to that verse to be revealed. Allow yourself to get lost in God.  Stop thinking, and start walking.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Path

I am a member of the widow club.  I joined the club almost 17 months ago.  Many of you are members too.  Its not a prestigious group by any means.  Its not a status symbol, like a country club.  And my prayer for you is that if you aren't a member, that you never will be.  Being a widow is hard.  We face things unimaginable.  We carry with us baggage that most don't ever deal with.  The paths which brought us here are wide and varied.  And the paths we take after that unforgettable moment when time stopped, are just as different.

I have met many widows since joining.  A variety of women with a variety of stories.  Widows who lost their husbands unexpectedly, in their 40s, from a heart condition they didn't know he had.  Widows who lost their husband after 25 years of marriage from a sickness.  I've met widows who have been single now for many years, and widows who met and fell in love again in just a few years.  There is not a cookie cutter path which got us here, and there is not a cookie cutter path to lead us out.

I appreciate the sisterhood of women who stand by me, and whom God has brought along my path.  But as I talk with them I continually remind myself that my path is unique.  That's not to say its better, or worse, its just different because its mine.  Before time God knew this would happen to me.  Before time He put a plan in place.  Before time He wrote my happy ending.  And He wrote yours too.

While running a race this past weekend I met a widow, in her 50s, who had been widowed for 9 years.  What she said impacted me greatly.  "I have dark days.  I still hit bottom."  Bottom...Nine years later? I was in awe.  I know a part of me will always love Jonathan.  He will always be a part of my life, as he was a part of my past.  He made me who I am today, through the good and bad times, he helped shape me.  But I don't have dark days anymore.  I don't hit bottom anymore.  Why? Why don't I struggle 17 months later the way this woman continues to struggle? Is it because of our relationship and its problems? Is it because of the freedom I found from his addictions?  Why don't I struggle?  The answer is obvious.  Its simple. Its one word, one name, above every name... Jesus!

I don't hit bottom because of Jesus.  His name is above grief.  His name is above despair.  Jesus is on my widowhood path, and He holds my hand with each step I take.  If you are walking your widow's path alone, stop.  Take Jesus' hand.  Let Him walk it with you. Let Him heal your heart.  Let Him turn your mourning into dancing.  You may have experienced a tragedy, but it need not define you.  God has a plan for you!  He's not done with you.  There is a hope, there is a new life, there is a glorious future, and its in Jesus!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Hurt

Its inevitable.  If you run long enough, at some point a part of your body is going to start hurting.  I just ran my third half marathon, that’s 13.1 miles, and around mile 10 my knee started hurting.  It wasn’t an injury.  Thats quite a different feeling.  It was just my body responding the intense pressure I was putting it under by running this distance. 

As I thought about my knee, I remembered my winter runs at the local metropark, and how mysteriously around mile 2 my shins would start to hurt, and eventually, by mile 4 the issue resolved itself.  I thought back to last November when I ran my first half marathon, and my thighs started hurting at mile 10, by mile 11 the thighs were less intense and my calves began to act up.  This hurt was normal.

That’s how it goes with running. You put a demand on your body to perform, a faster pace, an insane distance, and it takes some time to work out the kinks.  Your body may hurt, but if you don’t give up, if you keep running, if you don’t let the hurt move you, it will work itself out.  The hurt surrenders to your drive and perseverance, and further down the path you realize the hurt is gone.  This doesn’t mean a new hurt may not take its place.  There are no guarantees that a half a mile down the path a different part of your body could begin to fight against the plan.  But as you continue to push, as you stay steady to your course, it works itself out. 

As the path led me out of the woods, onto the sidewalk, near mile 11, this reality hit me.  Run through the hurt.  I’ve had some intense demands on my life, I’ve been down some long and winding paths.  And along the way I got hurt.  Life just hurts sometimes.  There are no guarantees that it will be easy and pain free.  But when that hurt comes, we need to respond just like running a half marathon.  Keep running.  Don’t give up.  Don’t surrender to the pain.  Its not an injury.  It will not stop you or cripple you- unless you let it.  

Keep on your path.  Keep running.  Run through the hurt.  And in time, it will work itself out.  In time it will stop hurting.  And when it does you will suddenly be aware that you are closer to your goal than you realized.  You have a choice! When the hurt of life comes, you can stop and surrender, or you can run through the hurt, continue on your path, cross the finish line and receive your medal!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Closed In

Have you heard of the study about children and boundaries?  A group of children are placed in an open back yard.  No instructions are given to the children.  Then they are observed.  The children play huddled together in the center of the yard.  Next a group of children are placed in a fenced in yard.  Again no instructions are given, and they children are once again observed.  This time the children run, explore and play through out the entire yard.  The researchers explain that children feel safe and secure when they are given boundaries.  When they are in a closed in space they feel more comfortable than in a wide open expanse.

I keep thinking about this study as I have transitioned to my new home.  It is so much smaller than the house I was just in.  And I feel a sense of comfort and security that I haven't felt before.  I know its the size of my home. I am closed in. I am surrounded. I am protected.  There is a coziness about my new home, and I can't help but smile thinking God knew I needed to feel this level of security in my life right now.

Life has been so uncertain since

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Really Matters

God is bringing me to a place of simplicity.  After living through the tragedy of burying a husband, you would think I would have already figured out what really matters in life.  I believe that experience did impact my life.  It changed me.  I realized I needed to spend my time better. I made major life decisions, such as leaving teaching to raise my son.  But along the way I began to hold onto "things", because they were all I had.  My marriage, my life had fallen apart.  My needs were neglected and left unmet, so I clung to those things that were there, our material possessions.  I didn't have a happy marriage, a peaceful life, but I had my house, and my beautiful belongings to fill it.

Over the last few months God has been stripping me.  He has been stripping me of pride, and making me humble.  He has been stripping me of my status, which I derived from the quality of my house, and making me find my status in him.  He has stripped away my debt, and made me financially stable.  He has stripped me.

This past week God has challenged me even further.  He has taken me out of my comfort zone and showed me what really matters.  Sometimes being displaced causes you to really question what you want, what you really need and where you want to be.  I have had many preconceived ideas about what I need to be happy.  Don't all young women dream about having a beautiful wedding, while giving no thought to the marriage?  We select our dream house on our commute to work, but have no concept of the effect of that mortgage on a family's finances.  In this season I've discovered what I think I need, and what God knows I need are two very different things.

What really matters?  What really matters for me? Its not the house, or the location.  Its the people that fill it.  I was empty and neglected.  I was betrayed and manipulated.  I was left broken, shattered, and hungry for love.  What really matters to me? Its not about provision, paying the bills, or fitting into my nice little life.  What really matters is someone who truly loves me and is able to show it.  What really matters is someone who will receive the love I have to give.  What really matters is someone who I can enjoy life with.  What really matters is a relationship where we see each other for the gift we are, and encourage each other.  

What really matters for my son?  My son had a great dad.  He would come home and play with him for hours.  He was firm when needed and loving at the same time.  What really matters to my son?  Its not the gifts someone brings.  Its not being in a certain community over others.  What really matters to my son is a man who can love him as his own.  A man who can be firm when he needs it, but also through him on his shoulders just for fun.  What really matters is a family he can be a part of, siblings he can play with.  What really matters is a man who can model how to be a man of God, and help me raise him to love Jesus above all else.

So often we are encouraged to decided what WE want, put a vision in our minds of the life WE desire.  We carefully list, plan and determine our perfect life!  And those things aren't necessarily bad.  But remember that God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He has a plan and a purpose.  He knows those small details that can take our life from average to awesome!  Be willing to put your vision aside, set down your preconceived ideas, and give room to God to rebuild your life.  He knows what really matters for you and your family and He has every intention of giving that amazing life to you!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I was running not long ago, along a very hilly path.  Its amazing the analogies and life lessons that God shows to me while I am running.  I ran 8 miles this particular run, and it was a very hilly path I selected.  Hills are hard when you run, even if you slow down your pace, the amount of energy you use to climb the hill greatly increases.  Once you hit the peak, and start the slow decline, you body starts to move faster and works less.  Coasting down helps alleviate the strain you felt climbing the hill.  And that is when this miracle happens.  God has given us this amazing ability to forget.  When I run I forget the intensity of the hills, as I coast down the other side. I begin to recover.  And as I recover I rebuild strength to take on the next hill.  God helps us to forget.  We forget the intensity, the risk and the pain.

We had a heat wave hit Michigan in mid-March, and since I am training for a half marathon I took advantage of the gorgeous weather for a long run.  My task: 9 miles.  The weather: 80 and sunny.  I was completely ignorant as I left my house for my 9 mile run in the sun.  After 2 miles I was getting tired and took a walk break.  The walk breaks increased and by 4.5 miles I knew I couldn't complete this run.  I was in trouble.  It was HOT! I was sweaty, exhausted and almost out of water.  I was walking more than I was running.  My body just wasn't ready for this hot weather, and it wasn't able to exert the normal energy level it had under colder circumstances.  By 6.5 miles I felt I had nothing left to give and better stop.  I was concerned I may pass out if I continued to push myself. I refer to this run as the "death run".  It really was that bad.

But God helps us forget.  A few days later, with colder weather, and less sun, I set out again for a 9 mile run.  I had forgotten the pain. I had forgotten the impossibility I felt that day.  I forgot, and here I was willing to try it again.

I can't explain my experience of relationships, marriage and widowhood any better than this example.  My relationship with my husband was far from healthy.  Our marriage was less than perfect, and in the end horribly difficult and impossible.  I was hurt, taken advantage of, betrayed, and left crushed, broken and hopeless.  When he died I was left unresolved and confused.   It has been painful, and frustrating.   But as time passes, the impact of the pain I experienced lessens.  My memory of it fades.  Its almost as if it was a movie I watched, and not a life that I lived.  The emotions of it become more and more distant, and all that remains is the facts, the story which I tell.

I thank God that he helps us forget.  Who wants to carry the pain day after day, month after month, in the same intensity as which you first experienced it? What would life look like if we remembered every detail? I wouldn't take the risk to live life again.  I would live in fear.  I would never trust another man with my heart and my life, for fear he may destroy it.  But God helps us forget.  As we continue running down the path of life.  We face each new hill with a fresh perspective, a renewed energy.  We find joy in coasting down the other side. We don't let the "death runs" of life stop us from lacing up our shoes and setting out on new adventures.  We learn to enjoy life and live again!  All because God helps us forget.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


March was a crazy month: full of packing, downsizing and moving.   I moved out of my 3400 square foot dream home, into my new home, a 1000 square foot condo.  I spent an entire month deciding which belongings to keep, and which items I was ready to let go.  I paraded stranger upon stranger through my home to purchase my belongings.  I watched my memories move out the door one by one.  Some of the belongings were easy to depart with, others were much harder.  In addition, I took 7 trips to the local Salvation Army, donating clothing, baby items, furniture and home decor.  I had downsized drastically.

I felt confident and strong. I realized that releasing these items from my life brought a new and unexpected level of healing.  It was time, and I was ready.  I had a past life that included my late husband Jonathan, but I have a future as well.  My future is not for the woman I was, or the life I once had, but it is for the woman I am now and the woman God is creating me to be.  With excitement I decided I was ready to let all my furniture go and buy new pieces for the new home.  I wasn't trying to wipe out every sign or memory of Jonathan as I had a year ago.  Rather I am really ready to move on. I am ready to start a new life; a clean slate.

As I walked into my new condo mid way through the move, my heart sank.  I was so excited to start this new life, I never anticipated what was about to happen.  I looked through my new condo, now filled with furniture, boxes and more boxes.  The open space was filled and I realized the reality of 1000 square feet.  It was smaller than it seemed before.  I walked into the garage and I couldn't stop the steady tear stream flowing from my eyes.  Boxes everywhere! Stacked all the way to the top, leaving a small path to walk through.  The worst part was this was just the first trip.  There were 2 more trips of belongings still to come!

I was utterly frustrated and disappointed.  I had been so proud of myself for releasing my belongings.  I had felt the healing with every item I had let go.  I thought I had downsized.  But I was disillusioned.  I had way too many things.  I had way too much stuff.  And it was never gonna fit.  In that exact moment I knew God was still working on me.

I thought of the rich young ruler.  He came to Jesus and said, "What must I do to obtain eternal life?"  Jesus told him to sell everything and give the money to the poor, then come and follow Him.  The young man went away sad because he had many possessions.  Imagine being invited by Jesus to follow him.  That's the opportunity of a lifetime!  Yet this young man let his possessions hold him back.  Because of the amount of belongings he had, he wouldn't follow Jesus.

I decided I didn't want to miss my opportunity.  God has something amazing He is doing in me right now, through this move.  I don't know what it is, just as the ruler had no idea what awaited him had he followed Jesus.  But I do know that I do not want to let my possessions hold me back.  Given the choice to have my belongings or have the unlimited opportunity which Jesus provides, I choose Jesus every time!  It may not be easy to downsize even further, but I am determining to experience the complete full life which God provides.  That same abundant life He offered to the rich young ruler.  My possessions are just things.  Its only stuff.  It doesn't complete me, or bring ultimate fulfillment in life.  Jesus does.  Jesus completes me.  Jesus is my fulfillment.