A Farewell to “It’s Beyond Me”


Today I’m announcing the transition from TWO blogs into ONE. A marriage of sorts, if you will. I’ve been writing this blog since February 2018, just a few months shy of two years. It has been a healing balm for my soul as I lived my first two years of widowhood through these words.

This was, in a very real sense, my replacement for grief therapy! In addition to baring my soul through most posts, I cried through the writing of almost all of them.

I’m sure some of the posts were hard to read. I HOPE some brought you insights you didn’t have before, whether it was into the world of widowhood, or how to help us through that loss, or most importantly, what God was teaching all of us through this difficult season.

Through it all, I trusted God to work through each and every post, and he NEVER disappointed.

In December of 2018, I added the ministry site, and the associated weekly blog to the mix. It was to be a more pragmatic approach to this whole topic of helping people through losses. Sure, there were some personal posts sprinkled throughout, and I will ALWAYS want to share what God is teaching during these days, but primarily I wanted to be an educator and an encourager.

With the 2-year anniversary of Dale’s death still in my rear-view mirror, it’s time for a change. I’ve felt God’s nudging for a few months now, and the line between the two blogs has begun to blur just a bit. So, I’ve decided it’s time to focus on the ministry and less on the daily “grind” of widowhood.

Does that mean I’m done grieving? Not by a long shot. This is my forever grief. But, I am focusing more and more on what God has for me in the days ahead.

So, this will be the last official post in “It’s Beyond Me.” How do I feel about that? Mixed emotions, for sure! It’s been a great therapist’s couch for me, and I’ve been honored to be used of God to share the insights from these past couple of years.

But most of that can still find a home on the ministry site, “Be a Blessing to Your Grieving Friend.”

If you aren’t following me on that weekly blog, I’d love for you to join me there! Just click on the green “Sign up” button on the home page and you’ll automatically be added to the notification list. I do hope you’ll continue with me as the ministry moves forward.

You may notice a new tab on the ministry site – “It’s Beyond Me Blog Archives.”  So, if you ever want to go back and find a post from this blog site, you can find it there in the monthly archives. Eventually I hope to also sort those by topics, but that’s on the wish list in the months ahead.

I’m so very grateful for your encouragement over the past two years, whether it was comments on the blog itself, or reaching out to me directly. I cherish every one of those acts of compassion. You may never know how deeply your kindnesses have touched my heart!

I look forward to continuing our relationship for as long as God gives me this ministry – and you as my supporters!

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:3

Living in the Moment?

Pullig out hair

I bet you expect this to be a post about how we should enjoy all the many moments that make up this crazy life of ours. Easy to live in the past or the future and not appreciate what we have in the “now.”

That is absolutely a wonderful concept and one that I have written about in the past. This post, however, is NOT about that kind of “living in the moment.” My version in this particular post will have a completely different twist!

To set up just how this new revelation made its way into my life recently, I have to share some of what I’ve been experiencing for the past month or two.

I’m working diligently on the launch of my book, Cultivating Compassion – Practical Advice as You Walk a Friend through a Season of Loss. Let me just say that the writing of the book was the EASIEST part of this process!

Enter the world of self-publishing on Amazon. Honestly, it’s a sub-culture unto itself. But I am taking a course to help me learn all the ins and outs of Amazon’s algorithms and how to utilize them most effectively.

Unfortunately, that means LOTS of new technology for someone who often describes herself as walking around with a black technology cloud over her head. Yep, that’s me. Not too beneficial for this stage of things.

So, I have been banging my head against the wall, taking one step forward and two steps back, and any other adage you can think of to describe a high level of frustration and a very low level of productivity. On more than one occasion, it has led to tears and the temptation to throw in the towel. (Hey, another adage!)

All that led me to the realization that I was living TOO MUCH in those moments. I was letting the frustration of the daily struggles color my entire outlook on life. It caused me to take a huge step backwards, but in a good, self-reflecting sense.

So, I had to ask myself, “What difference will this particular problem make in the scope of eternity?” Might it delay the launch of the book? Maybe. Might it cause a few restless nights? For sure! But, I had to remind myself, once again, that this ministry belongs to God. And His purposes for it will go forward regardless of any technical glitches I may run into.

And here’s the other thing – God, the ALL-KNOWING God, has the answers to every one of those technology problems. He’s got this. And He’ll lead me to answers and resolutions in His timing.

So, I needed to STOP living in those moments of frustration and towel-throwing, and remember just Who it is I’m serving. Keep my eye on the big picture, knowing that I’m not in charge. AND, keep my eye on the eternal picture. All these frustrations pale in comparison to what’s ahead at the end of this earthly life.

I pray you can also learn to cherish the beautiful moments, but hand over your difficult times to a good God.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

Forever Grief

Forever Grief Image

Do those words strike fear in your heart? Are you tempted to send someone to my house to check up on me? Have I lost my grip on reality? I hope not!

I had the opportunity this past weekend to speak to a group of church volunteers whose ministry is walking alongside those who are hurting. Very similar to Stephen Ministers for those of you familiar with that organization. I am always in awe of those who deliberately choose to step into another person’s pain. So, hats off to them and any of you who do that!

I asked the attendees to fill out a comment card after my presentation and one of the questions is, “What most surprised you?” MY surprise this time is the number of people who wrote down “forever grief” as their answer.

I DO talk about this concept, so let me give you the cliff notes version here and end, as I always strive to, on a hopeful note.

I don’t believe EVERYthing or person we grieve results in “forever grief.” I’m not grieving all the pets I’ve lost through the years. Nor am I still grieving most/all of my relatives or friends. In fact, while I do certainly miss my parents, I wouldn’t even claim that I have a forever grief associated with their losses.

Almost without exception, my memories of these past losses make me smile and feel warm on the inside, despite how deeply I grieved the deaths at the time.

So just what does constitute a “forever grief?” Guess what? YOU get to decide! Yep, no one can tell you what or whom you grieve forever, and what you “should” eventually move on from. Just like grieving in general, forever grief is an incredibly personal thing. No definition. No judgment. Just compassion.

But I’d still like to use a couple of examples to dive into this a little more deeply. Virtually every parent I’ve talked with who has lost a child experiences forever grief, even if they don’t label it as such. In fact, I chatted with a 91-year-old woman this week who lost a daughter decades ago, and yet, she still teared up telling me about it.

Friends of mine who have been widows for decades also tell me that it doesn’t really get better. While, my own widow experience is just under two years old, I can see how the deep love I had for Dale, resulting in the deep grief I feel over his death, could certainly become MY forever grief.

So based on many conversations I’ve had and on my own experience, here’s the radical statement I want to throw out there. I think sometimes, it’s OK to grieve for the rest of your life!

I’m not saying that’s ALL you do, but I think we should stop trying so hard just to get past the pain. And stop trying so hard to move others through their pain. That should NOT be our ultimate goal. Because what happens then is we stuff the pain down only to have it pop up somewhere down the road in an unhealthy manner.

And achieving a state of no pain and only happiness isn’t even biblical. In John 16:33, it says, “In this world you WILL have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

We know what happened when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. Sin entered the world and has tainted everything from that point on. Pain and sorrow and death are some of the consequences we suffer because of that.

And as long as we live in this fallen world, we will always have loss and heartache and grieving. And yes, I believe some of it will last forever. So, what do we do with THAT?

First of all, we acknowledge that God does His best and most permanent work through our trials, so we look to see how He wants to deepen our faith and cause us to trust Him more. And we see THAT for the blessing that it is.

We learn how to live our life in spite of this trial. We find a new normal. We don’t necessarily move on. We don’t forget. Perhaps we don’t stop grieving. We are now different people because of this loss. On one hand, perhaps forever grieving. But on the other hand, molded by God for His purposes through this pain.

And finally, we look forward to the day when God makes everything right again. Maybe it’s when He calls you home. Maybe it’s when Jesus returns. But make no mistake, God WILL make it all right. Because, through Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, He HAS overcome the world. Therein lies our hope. And our joy!

Let that hope and that joy add balance to YOUR life that is likely struggling with SOMETHING. Maybe it’s minor irritations, maybe it’s crises of various types. Perhaps you’re in the midst of grieving even now. And maybe you’re still suffering through YOUR forever grief.

Allow yourself to feel the loss. But always be reminded of God’s love for you and for His perfect plan, and let that bring you much joy!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
James 1:2-3

Strong Enough to Grieve

Gods strengthThat’s kind of a strange title, isn’t it? It’s been rumbling around in my brain for the past few days, so I decided to see where this goes!

At the heart of this issue is the question, “Do ‘strong’ people grieve less than ‘weak’ ones?” A few months after Dale’s death, a good widow friend called me. Honestly, I thought I would have heard from her much sooner than that. When I gently brought that up, she said to me, “I just thought you were so strong.” To which I replied, “No one is strong enough to lose the love of their life and not grieve.”

That’s the short answer, but let’s dig a little deeper into this concept.

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time may consider me a strong person. I’ve been pretty self-sufficient for much of my life, even though Dale’s strength always undergirded our marriage. I had a career that required me to be business savvy and tough. I was the sole caregiver to 4 people over the past 20 years, including my husband. All things that require a certain level of strength.

But that’s not always a good thing. Case in point – when Dale asked my dad if he could have my hand in marriage, my dad seriously cautioned Dale about that because he thought I was a bit too headstrong! Dale said he was up to the task, and he definitely was. That conversation makes me smile even today.

And yet, 21 months after losing Dale, I don’t feel that I have exhibited any strength in this journey. I’m sad on a daily basis. I still cry over so many memories. I constantly ask God to give me HIS strength. Sometimes I can’t even attend events because it’s hard to be around families and couples when I have to go alone. I could go on and on with examples.

So, I process all of this through this blog, through the blog on my ministry site, through speaking engagements, and through book and song writing. They are the outlets for my pain. God has given me this ministry to share my journey and what He’s teaching me, with all of you.

I doubt if any of my posts would paint me as strong during this season. Becoming a widow has shone a light on how much I rely on God’s strength to get me from one day to the next. None of my own strength has been sufficient.

As I write, I often find other widows or people suffering from losses who comment that it helps them to know what I struggle with because it’s their struggle, too. Or, maybe they had some of the same hurts as me, but didn’t know how to tell anyone. So they suffered alone or in silence. Maybe they were afraid they’d be considered weak.

So I write for all of us who are suffering – especially those who don’t feel equipped to share their pain. I don’t think that makes me strong. I think it makes me honest, and often vulnerable. But if it helps shed some light on these difficult days, then I’m grateful God has called me to this.

Back to the original question. So while it might seem logical that “strong” people don’t grieve as deeply, the reality is that no amount of our own strength is enough to get through a deep loss.

Worth repeating – for me, this loss just shines a light on my need for God and His strength. The only “strong” thing I do is face my grief. Thanks for listening.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

How’s Your Life Balance?

Who ISN’T trying to find some balance in their lives nowadays? I think our schedule-crazy society works against nearly everyone, including kids. I’m blown away by all the options available to the kiddos and secretly wish they didn’t have so many. I loved my carefree childhood days where the only commitments I had were swimming lessons for a few weeks and Vacation Bible School. Ahhh, the good old days… (said “June Cleaver!”)

The balance I want to chat about in this post, however, isn’t that issue. It’s an idea that came to me after my prayer time this morning.

I continue to struggle with sadness every day, and the 20+ months of that since Dale’s death is absolutely exhausting. I’m also coming to grips with the fact that this is very much the reality of my life now and probably will be for a very long time. Hard not to focus on that when it permeates my soul daily.

So to combat that, I decided to change that focus to the “ever-popular” attitude of gratitude. Or, in other words, change the balance in my life. I’ve taken multiple stabs at that in the past year or two, but it doesn’t always “stick.”

I did begin to thank God for the blessings that are ever-present in my life today. I thanked Him for the blessed life I had for so very many years. And I am immeasurably excited about and grateful for what lies ahead in an eternity in Heaven.

So, the statistician in me took over the analysis at this point. (For those of you who haven’t heard; a statistician is someone with their head in the oven and their feet in ice water who ways, “On average, I feel fine.” Sorry, I couldn’t resist that. I have so few opportunities to use math humor…)

Back to the subject at hand. When I thought about how much of my past has been good and added to that the parts of my present that are good and added to that the future that will be AMAZING, guess what conclusion I came to? When eternity is part of that equation, there is barely a sliver of time that is anything but good! It must be something like 99.99999999999…. % incredible! How’s that for a new focus?

Even if your life on this earth has been full of trials and difficulties, if you know that Heaven is your future home, you too will have virtually no bad times showing up in your life balance scales.

An eternity of perfection wipes away ANY difficulties we’ve experienced in this life, no matter how plentiful they are.

Of course, it doesn’t feel like that when we’re in the middle of this present world. Only in retrospect will we come to fully understand and enjoy this glorious truth.

But it did help me to look at my pain a bit differently. Less permanent, less all-encompassing, less discouraging, less heart wrenching. It reminded me to keep fighting the good fight. Keep focusing on God’s will in my life. Keep counting my blessings. And keep my eyes on “Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith” (Heb 12:2).

So, how is your life balance? Would it help to have an eternal perspective? Could you ask God to help you develop it? I’m pretty sure it’s what would honor Him the most. It will be my prayer for you.

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…
2 Corinthians 4:17

What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.
James 4:14

“It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times…”

Image result for free images thespian
For those of you who are “literature literate,” you will recognize these words as the beginning of Charles Dickens’ famous “Tale of Two Cities.” I read it way back in sophomore year English class in high school.

While these words are renowned, I applied them very appropriately to my college years. No question, at the time, that’s exactly how I described my college experience to everyone! For me, it absolutely was the best of times and the worst of times. But that was [cough, cough] years ago.

I was honored to play the piano for a wedding today. It was a beautiful event – full of hope, full of love, full of gospel teaching, full of joy and full of possibilities.

It’s the first wedding I’ve attended since Dale’s death 20 months ago (tomorrow). But it wasn’t my first invitation. I haven’t been able to attend alone yet. This was easier because I camped out at the keyboard throughout the ceremony. I had other things to keep my mind occupied. And I made it through without losing it. Yea me!

But, afterwards, I was chatting with a friend and mentioned that this was my first wedding post-Dale. I commented that weddings were harder for me than funerals. My wedding was also a beautiful event – full of hope, full of love, not-quite-as-full of gospel teaching, full of joy and full of possibilities.

THAT is what makes attendance at a wedding so hard for me as a widow now. I can’t help but be transported back to that amazing day in September 1986. But what a blessing that my memory of that day is still so crystal clear. And not just the memory of the activities of the day, but the memory of all the beautiful emotions I felt so many years ago.

With 32 years in the rear-view mirror, I can see the mixture of what our marriage was. Certainly, it was times of hope, love, joy and possibilities. But it was also times of trials, challenges, selfishness and heartache. That’s exactly what marriage is – and that’s what this beautiful young couple will grow to understand over time. Marriage – and life – are a mixture of joy and sorrow.  Keeping God front and center is the key!

So, back to my conversation with my friend. As we wrapped it up, I said, “My wedding day was the best day of my life. And Dale’s funeral was the worst day of my life.”

Ta-da – Tale of Two Cities! Tale of life in this world. But that’s OK because what’s ahead for us as believers is a TRULY beautiful event – FULL of love, FULL of the Gospel (because Jesus will be there) and FULL of eternal joy. Hope fulfilled.

So, for those of you who are married, whether it’s for 3 hours as this young couple – or for 50 years, hug your spouse, tell them you love them and thank God for the work He does through your marriage.

I miss Dale every day, but I’m so grateful not only for that special day 32+ years ago, but for the journey that brought me from wedding day to funeral day and beyond. This is life. Embrace it all. The best of times and the worst of times.

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy from you.
John 16:22

Things That Are Hard to Do Alone



This past weekend, I got extra ambitious and decided to spray my mattress with a bottle promising to kill all the dust mites that have been eating my eyelashes for a while now. And along with that 4-hour soaking project, I also decided to flip the queen-sized mattress, like any responsible mattress owner.

I have done it a few times over the last year or two, but it’s always exhausting. On Saturday, as I was wrestling with this monstrosity, it “flipped out” and knocked my bedroom TV over, hitting the screen on the edge of the TV stand.

At first glance, it looked OK. But that night, as I was attempting to watch a little TV before dozing off, the screen looked like a really bad imitation of a Picasso painting. Yep, gonna need a new TV…

As I was contemplating the difficulty of this job, I was reminded again of how some things are hard, or even impossible to do alone. Aha! There’s a blog post topic for me! (I’m always sniffing one of those out…)

And since I spend the majority of my time alone, especially here at home, I figured it was the perfect subject matter and I should be able to have lots of ideas.

My goal was to have a humorous post for a change to balance out some of those pathetic ones I write from time to time. Because the mattress/TV thing is kind of funny, right?

So, I sat down at the computer – prayed like you know I do – and then could only think of SAD things to do alone! That’s NOT what I was looking for!

But in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m going to throw out a few sad things to do alone before continuing on this quest.

• Go to a movie or a restaurant.
• Go to a wedding or funeral.
• Have a non-canine/feline conversation.
• Cry on someone’s shoulder.
• Get or give a hug.
• Put up Christmas lights.

You get the idea. Yes, there are many things that are hard to do alone. That’s all the space I’m allotting for sad things.

Back to my humor quest – I turned to my best friend, Google, and entered “Things that are hard to do alone.” Surely Google had some ideas for me. Well, I was sent to a blog post from a woman in Oregon, also a widow some years back, who had written on this very subject.

It was hilarious!! I honestly laughed out loud reading it. So, I sent her an email, letting her know how much I enjoyed it and how I was writing on that exact same subject. Long story short – we are now FaceBook friends. Check out Sue’s post for a good laugh.

As much as I was tempted to plagiarize some of her ideas (and she would likely have been OK with that), I’m committed to mostly original ideas here.

So, here is my list of “not sad” things that are hard or impossible to do alone.

• Flip a queen-sized mattress without destroying any other furniture…or my back.
• Drop myself off at the front door of anyplace in the rain.
• Play Gin Rummy
• Make a toast to someone’s health
• Ride a motorcycle without being the driver.
• Win or lose an argument.
• Blame anyone else when you lose things.
• Play tennis or racquet ball.
• Get the cat in the kennel.

Now let’s do some audience participation. I’d LOVE to hear from any of my readers the FUNNY things that are hard to do alone. And please, keep it G-rated. I have the power to delete your comment…

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone;
I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Genesis 2:18

My Writing “Partner”

writing handOne of the most amazing phenomenons I’ve experienced in the past year or so can only be defined as God writing through me.  I know how that must sound.  Maybe a bit cheesy.  Maybe a little too uber-spiritual.  But it’s a real and constant reminder to me of how little I contribute to this process.

This applies to the 36 blog posts I’ve written on this site beginning in February 2018, the 28 posts from the ministry site beginning last December, the 3-4 different speaking presentations I’ve written…AND a booklet I’m getting ready to self-publish.  (Stay tuned for more on that!)  I’ve even experienced this in my Christmas letters over the past couple of seasons, especially the one God wrote through me about a month after Dale’s death.

EVERY TIME I sit down to write ANYTHING, I pray first and ask God to give me His words and to help me share the message that He wants in this ministry.

Oh sure, I usually come to my computer with a basic topic for a blog post and maybe what can only be described as an extremely skeletal outline.  Usually it’s a possible title and few random ideas (likely ALSO from God…).

Sometimes these topics have been rolling around in my head for a few weeks, and other times, the idea hits me completely out of the blue with an urgency that suggests I sit down and write NOW.

That’s exactly what happened with THIS post.  I was preparing to write something for the ministry site and, as always, prayed that prayer asking God to speak through me.  And boom!  THIS topic jumped out at me!  It was essentially God telling me to share the joy and wonder of this writing miracle with my readers.  Great idea, God!

So as soon as I scheduled the ministry post, I opened up a new Word document – prayed! – and then let God do what He has so faithfully done for so many months.  He fills my mind and my soul with messages that always surprise me.  He draws analogies for me.  He leads me to scripture texts that perfectly illustrate His message.  He even brings the best images for me to use weekly.

I don’t struggle with what to say or how to say it.  I don’t have the infamous “writer’s block.”  I just start to type, and the thoughts are almost always a few steps ahead of my fingers.  It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced.

So, for those of you who have so faithfully encouraged me with my writing, and extoled “my” writing skills, I do appreciate it and thank you for your kind words.  But, I want to stress again that it truly is NOT me.  Yes, God may have given me some sort of command of the English language, but the end result is His – and the ultimate praise and glory belong to Him.

How can I adequately describe what this is like?  I can tell you that I cry through almost everything I write.  So, first of all, I’m generally exhausted when I’m done!  But there is such a cleansing I feel through this process.  It is truly MY substitute for Christian counseling.

I am in awe whenever I finish writing.  To know how little I have in my head when I sit down – and then to see God’s finished product?  I can think of few experiences that so clearly confirm God’s power, His love for me, His hand on THIS ministry and His involvement in the minute details of my life.  I couldn’t be more grateful or more astonished by it.  And I just wanted you to know.

You have said, “Seek my face.”

My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Psalm 27:8 ESV



Seasonal Lessons


I’ve written a couple of blog posts that circled around this topic – one on this personal site (Hope of Spring) and one on the ministry site (Appreciate the Good Times), but neither one fully addressed my thoughts on this subject.

Maybe I just want to write on this topic because we’ve experienced about a 50-degree temperature swing in the past few days!  Let’s hope there’s a bit more depth to it than that…

Lately I’m hearing more and more people talk about how life is full of seasons.  I’ve been saying that myself for the past 10 years or so.  If you’re one of my younger readers, say under 40, you may not have looked at life this way yet.

But for those of us who are likely in the last half of our earthly lives, this becomes more and more evident.  And the more I thought about it, the more I saw parallels to the real weather seasons we experience.

When I was younger and I saw my life as overwhelmingly blessed, I just assumed that’s how life should be.  I certainly didn’t think of it as just a “season” of my life.  Why would I want this beautiful summer to turn into winter?

But eventually, as I experienced difficult times in my life, I started to see those parallels.  Here are some of the life lessons I now see through this “seasonal lens.”

  • Seasons are inevitable. Just as surely as the snow melts and the tulips pop through, so will we experience times of joy and times of heartache, eventually.  I now look at BOTH of those times as seasons.  It isn’t just the difficult days that I equate to a winter season – it’s everything.  We move from one to another, and maybe back and forth.
  • Seasons come to an end. Unless you live in some tropical paradise…  But here in the Midwest, we can be assured that we will NOT be buried in snow come August.  And chances are pretty high that it won’t hit 95 degrees in mid-January.  And just as we all have our favorite weather season that we never want to see come to an end, so will we want our good times to be endless.  And conversely, the winter seasons of our life do mercifully eventually come to an end, and we see that hope of Spring I wrote about earlier.
  • We don’t know how long each season will last. Every year is a bit different.  When we lived in Stillwater, MN, we had a THREE-FOOT blizzard on Halloween!  That’s right!  Go figure.  Think that made for a REALLY long winter? Absolutely!  But when we built our last home in 2000 here in Iowa, we had 80-degree days in December which made for a much shorter winter season.  And a great year to be building a new home!  Despite “The Farmer’s Almanac” predictions, no one nails it 100%.  Similarly, with your life seasons, seldom do you know how long either the good or the difficult times will last.  (But God does.)
  • Some “miniseasons” are just cold fronts or heat waves. Within the four major seasons, we often find strange phenomenon showing up such as unexpected freezes or heat waves.  They may be in and out in a couple of days, and then you return to what you expect of the season.  Sure, they break it up a bit, for better or for worse, but there’s usually not a long-lasting affect.  When you go through a few days or weeks of “the blues,” you might just be experiencing one of those cold fronts.  Hopefully, your life returns to a sense of normalcy soon.  And getting some joyful news in the middle of a tough year might just be a little heat respite for your winter-weary soul.
  • God knows every detail of the seasons. Not only is God the Author and Creator of every season in every location from the beginning of time, but He knows EXACTLY what He’s doing as He takes you through the seasons of your life.  Nothing is arbitrary.  No pain is wasted.  Every one of your days is planned.
  • Look for the beauty in each season. Of course, we all have our favorites.  I toggle back and forth between Spring and Fall being my favorites.  I love the new life that Spring brings each year, but I also marvel at the spectacular colors of the Fall.  And even if we aren’t fans of the extremes of Summer and Winter, I’m sure we have all admired some incredible beauty during those days.

What about the seasons of my life?  Do I see beauty in each of them?  Do you?  Do I appreciate my favorite life season while I’m in it?  Am I purposeful about finding the good in my difficult days?  It’s pretty hard sometimes to do either, isn’t it?   It’s so easy to take for granted our happy days – until they’re taken from us and we’re plunged into a harsh winter season.  And then it’s difficult to see how any good could come from it.

But trust God to be in each of them with you, even if you don’t sense His presence.  And know that He will never leave you in your dark days longer than necessary for Him to teach you important life lessons, like entrusting these days to Him.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV


The Lonely Crowd


Well, isn’t that a title that makes you want to jump in and gobble up this post!?  But it’s a subject that’s been on my heart for a while now, and one that I believe God has given me some insights to share with you.

First, true confessions.  I’ve been struggling with loneliness A LOT lately.  Not really surprising since the words “lonely” and “widow” are often linked together.  Of course, I miss not living my life with Dale – and memories continue to make my heart ache for those bygone days.

A widow friend, whose husband died about 8 years ago, told me early on that loneliness was one of the hardest parts of being a widow.  And she said it gets worse over time because she has now been without him for more years.  Yep, I can certainly relate to that.  Getting harder, not easier.

Despite my best efforts to stay active with church and friends and the ministry, the reality is that I spend the large majority of my time alone.  Yes, my pets definitely help, but they’re no substitute for human interaction.

Because the circumstances leading to this loneliness aren’t going to change, i.e.  Dale’s NOT coming back, I realize that I am the one who needs to change – or at least figure out how to navigate through this.

This season of loneliness has opened up my eyes to a new reality.  MANY people live lonely lives!  I’m starting to see this condition in a whole new light.  Widows certainly don’t have the corner of the market on loneliness.  Anyone who is single or divorced or childless must certainly fight these same emotions.

And one doesn’t have to BE alone to be lonely.  Many people in unfulfilled relationships suffer as well.  Maybe you are an empty-nester and your loneliness is a result of a quiet house now that the kids are gone.

I just did a quick Google search on “the loneliness crisis” and I was shocked at how many articles address this subject.  One study suggests that nearly half of their respondents describe themselves as lonely.  Another study called loneliness an epidemic and a public health crisis more serious than obesity.

Of course, everyone has an opinion on what’s behind this crisis, from sleep deprivation to social media to prescription drugs.  There’s no shortage of opinions on the causes or the solutions.

But for the believer, that solution list might look a bit different.  As I’ve prayed over this and studied the scriptures, here are some of the insights God has graciously given to me.

  • My loneliness is not unique. Even Jesus knew loneliness, and certainly never more than as he was dying on the cross.  David wrote endless passages in the Psalms about his times of loneliness.  So, to a certain degree, it IS one of the sorrows we will suffer in this lifetime.  And there is comfort in knowing that our Savior experienced a loneliness greater than we can imagine.  He understands this pain.
  • Focus on eternity. I find GREAT comfort in thinking about spending eternity with Jesus and my loved ones in heaven. Meditating on God’s promises of no more tears, no more sadness, no more sorrow, no more LONELINESS, is a great balm for my soul!
  • Be grateful for times of fellowship. I want to appreciate more and more the time I spend with good friends.  We were not created to live in isolation.  God wants us living in fellowship with others, and I want to soak up that joy and preserve it for as long as I can!  Maybe even take a portion of it into my lonely days and nights.
  • Deepen my relationship with God. There’s no better time for this than when a heart is hurting and longing for relief.  God’s word is full of promises to bring joy and peace to your soul.  In fact, just this morning as I was contemplating this blog topic, God brought this scripture to my mind: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  Jeremiah 31:3. Boy, it doesn’t get any better than that!  Lord, help me to run to you for comfort in my loneliness.
  • Learn to rest in God alone. I know this is similar to the previous point, but I want to stress that sometimes we need to learn contentment in our loneliness.  Be careful what you use to fill up your lonely life, or substitute as a temporary fix.  God is all-sufficient.
  • Do something for others. This is good advice for anyone at any time!  Pouring ourselves into someone else’s life, especially someone who is hurting, shifts the focus from our pain to their comfort.  I know it’s so hard to get started on this one, but the rewards are many!

So, if you are one of the many who struggles with loneliness, you are not alone!  That knowledge, however, is generally not enough to make any of us feel any better.  Know that Jesus is our forever friend, one who sticks closer than a brother.  He will never leave us or forsake us.  Pour out your heart to him, and then let him pour his love back into you.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

James 4:8