Give Thanks


Thanksgiving pic

I’ve been thinking about how I can say to others, “Give thanks.” If you’ve recently lost a loved one or are still grieving the loss of a loved one, you may think, How can I give thanks?

As I thought about what I wanted to write to you this Thanksgiving week, I thought, Can I say that I’m thankful that God took my husband home to Himself? Can I say I’m thankful that I am a widow? “No.”

I realized I’m not thankful for those precise things. But I can say that I’m thankful that God didn’t allow my husband to linger in great pain and suffering.  I’m  thankful I know Phil is in heaven with our Lord.  I’m thankful God’s promises have continued to be true. He’s remained faithfully by my side. God promises that He’ll work all things for good if we just trust Him. I have experienced that in my own life and am eternally thankful.

I’m thankful for the normal things in our lives: my family, my church, food, clothing, and health. But I’m also thankful for so much more. I’m thankful for my salvation, that Christ gave His life for me. I’m thankful God never leaves nor forsakes His own.  I’m thankful  I had a loving husband and the evidence of that love that still surrounds me. I ‘m thankful for the healing of my grief and strength for those first few years. The beauty of this earth, even in its fallen state, can’t go unmentioned.

I could write pages about all the things I’m thankful for. Instead, I’ll close with this verse, “Jeremiah 33:11 “Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

Let’s praise the Lord for His goodness to us, which  is everlasting!

  “Thank You, Father”

(by Marsha Hubler)

 Thank you, Heavenly Father
  for your strength
which has seen me
through many trials.
Because of you,
I have had the courage
to face tomorrow’s unknown.
Your wisdom
from days gone by
now guides me
to make the right decisions
when I reach the forks
in the road of life.
Thank you, Father,
for the cherished cloak
of family ties
which has molded me …
now enfolds me …
… and fills me
with love and gratitude.

Alone with God


 

“Retreat from the world’s noise and the clamour of your worries. In silence you can hear the whisper of the Infinite.” (1) These are the words I read on the pamphlet in my silent retreat packet. Preparing for the five- and-a-half hours drive to my favorite retreat, I felt so ready!

There’s something about driving away from everything and going into a quiet spot. Some people feel close to God by listening to music. Others can sit in a cafe with people around them and immerse themselves in their own private world. As for me , I need to be away from my normal surroundings. I relish being surrounded and immersed with nature. Most of all, I need to be in quietness without distractions.

Last year as I read one of my favorite blogs by Ferree Hardy, “A Christian Widow’s Place”, I read about a retreat called God’s Quest. As I read about taking yourself away from your usual busy life and surrounding yourself by God’s nature, talking to no one but him, I found myself thinking yes, this is what I need! While reading the information, I read that the second day is called a “hermit day.” Silence starts at 9 o’clock the first evening and continues through the next day,” hermit day,” and ends 10 a.m. the third day.

There’s something special about this length of silence and solitude without interruption while talking only to God. Jesus often separated himself from  others to be alone with His Heavenly Father and gave us this example to follow.

God speaks in a still small voice. How will we hear him unless we take time to sit still and listen?

Arriving after dark, it wasn’t until Friday morning that I was greeted by the once-again beautiful foliage. The air was brisk, but as I nestled in a blanket relaxing on a glider next to the pond, I felt God’s peace and love. Once again I pulled out my journal and started listening to what He had to say.

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latest pond pic

I imagine  many secrets are hidden in those waters, as others over the years have sat there and talked to God.

After Friday night’s delicious Amish-cooked meal, we attendees met for devotions. Following that sweet time of fellowship and song, we went our silent ways to focus only on our Lord.

Pampering myself in the Jacuzzi in my cottage and sleeping late the next morning were both extra bonuses I enjoyed. It was great knowing that nothing was awaiting me to attend to that day. What a great way to clear one’s mind of all distractions than to remove yourself from them!

I had previously determined not to drive so far for my retreat nextyear, but as I walked across the vacated ski slopes enjoying the view while I talked to the Lord at this special place, I’m afraid I may find myself on that drive again next year.

Regardless of where I spend my retreat, I hope I always take time to go someplace alone to be refreshed. If our Lord needed this, how much more do we?

You may be saying, “It’s not necessary to drive a distance or even to go away from your home to meet with the Lord.” This is true; however, in the busy world in which we live  and the hectic life we live, for me, I know I need to retreat at least once a year.

In Exodus 33:14, God told Moses, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” This is the verse God  gave  me as I prepared to retreat. Still, His promise is true in all of our situations. As long as we have God’s presence, we can have rest. No matter what trials we face or where we are, we’ll always find a quiet rest in the Lord.

I pray that I keep my mind stayed on Him while I continue in my everyday life.

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May God bless you and help you to find your private “retreat.”

Kathy

  • 1.  texts from the Elf-help Therapy book “Acceptance Therapy” (by Lisa Engelhardt).

4/14/15 Final Preparations for Haiti Trip


This past Sunday we had our mission team’s last meeting. We skyped with the team from Calvary Church in Los Gatos, CA.  This team consists of 10 members, one who is Dr KIM JEE HEE, an ophthalmologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of ophthalmic conditions, medical and surgical eye care, including LASIK, Premium multifocal lens Cataract Surgery, and Corneal Surgery. We are so fortunate to have someone with her knowledge on our team. As our team performs the regular eye examinations, she will be able to see the ones that need further or more extensive eye care. No surgeries will be able to be performed on this trip; however she will determine if she could do so in the future. We will have prescription eye drops/ medications available for her to prescribe. We are also taking a wide range of prescription lens and frames. These will be very basic for near – far vision. Our team provides 300-400 glasses. What a blessing to be able to help someone to finally see! 600 adult, 400UV, sunglasses will also be given out.

God blesses our pharmacist by enabling him to access resources to obtain medications that add up to thousands of dollars. The final packing of supplies in extra-large suitcases, one per person, was completed today.

We will be setting up clinics in five mountain villages. Along with the medical supplies we are taking volley- balls , Frisbees, and outdoor items to play with the children. Lord willing, as we show God’s love and share His word, many will come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior.

It was good to meet several of the team. I feel more now like I have faces to names. I am so excited to work with these precious, God-honoring people. I pray for Satan to be defeated in any of his attempts to attack us as we near our time to leave. I’m thankful that God is allowing me to be a part of what he is doing in Haiti.

Some have said, “Why don’t churches just send the money to them?”  This can be answered by the words of one of the Haitians. “When we see you show up, it shows you care.” They love seeing some of the same faces return again and again. Proverbs 25:25 says, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”

I hope you’ ll be in prayer for us as we leave this Saturday, April 18th. We need prayer for safe travels, both to and from the country and while in the country as well. Pray for all of us to have the wisdom of God and to be able show His love. We want to fulfill His purpose for sending us.

God bless you for following me in this new chapter of my life.  Kathy

 haiti shirt2Haiti shirt 4Haiti shirt 1

“Haiti 8” Missions Trip


This June will mark the fourth anniversary of my husband’s home-going. The past four years held many ups and downs. However, I am thankful my Lord has brought me through those deep waters without letting them overtake me.

At one point I thought, perhaps, I would always carry sadness within me. I learned since then that I have a choice. I could keep looking back and thinking of my loss and what could have been, or I could look up instead. I chose to make an effort to look up to God and to help myself move on.  I started to realize that God had plans for me. He planned for my husband to go home with Him, but what were His plans for me?

He promises to “makes our crooked paths straight” (Isaiah 45:2).  I feel content in the path He has chosen for me. God has opened up new exciting adventures in my life. He led me to start this blog, and recently He directed me to start a fellowship for widows in my area.

Today I want to share with you the recent blessing He has given me. I’ll be joining a team from a local church on their 8th missions trip to Haiti. Because it is their 8th trip they call it “Haiti 8” missions trip.

Step one was to send in my application and references. I praised the Lord when I received acceptance. There will be a few on the team that will be doing fluoride treatments on children, others will be giving eye exams, and some will be working with a doctor on the team.  Because I am an LPN, I’ll be helping  the medical team. Others in our group will work on construction.

I attended my first meeting a few weeks ago and was given a spiritual preparation work booklet and guidelines of what must be accomplished before we leave.

My second challenge was raising support for the trip. Writing a  letter of appeal and sending it  to friends and family was not something I was accustomed to doing, but I realized it would give each of them a chance to be a part of helping those in need in another country.

Next, I had to start the process to receive a passport.

“Did I have my birth certificate?” I was asked.

Hmm…. I found the birth certificate, but it appeared I was hatched, since it had no parents’ names on it. Now obtaining an acceptable birth certificate as soon as possible became a top priority on my list of things to do. After a trip to Harrisburg, Pa., I came home four hours later with the official document in my hand. (Thank you Lord!)  Not too long afterward, I opened the mailbox to find my passport had arrived!

The next very important task took me to the doctor’s office to receive my inoculations. Then the second week of March I received news that my total support was in. This was definitely another praise to the Lord. I started the process late, but God blessed the process in a short amount of time!

The trip will be from April 18th to April 25th. Due to the lack of electricity, and the need to use a generator for a couple hours each evening I will not be able to send regular updates in my blog. Once I am back home I will share the trip with you. I hope you’ll follow me with my preparation and eventual journey to serve the people of Haiti and share Christ’s love with those who need his gift of salvation.

God bless you,

Kathy

Proverbs 4:5&6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him,  and He will direct thy paths. “

Overwhelmed?


One of the biggest things caregivers and widows deal with is the feeling of being overwhelmed. I remember feeling that way for a while when my husband was battling his cancer. Even when he was in remission, he didn’t have the strength to do the things here at the house that had always been his responsibility. Caring for a loved one it is a huge task.
Allowing others to help when they offer may be out of your character. However, I eventually learned that not only was it a blessing to me to be able to respond, “Yes, if you want, to you could plow my driveway,” or do such and such,” but it gives them the opportunity to be blessed as well.
After I became a widow, it took a couple years to be able to adjust to all of the added responsibility and to learn how to prioritize the many things that I felt needed to be done.
Letting others do things for us and prioritizing certainly help us when we are overwhelmed. The most important thing that I remembered is when I’m weary or overwhelmed with this life, I fall into God’s arms. He is waiting for us to rest in Him. He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me all ye that labor and I will give you rest.” God wants to be “…our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Tell Him how you are feeling and remember the Bible says that our load is heavy, but His is light. Ask Him to carry your burdens for you.
Although we find ourselves walking or swimming in deep waters and it feels like we will drown, we can be assured that He promised to never let the waters overtake us. I learned I needed to trust in that promise and to rest in that truth while I reached out to Him and allowed Him to pull me out of the waters and up to the other side. Once I realized my need and turned to Him, my burden became light. That weight I was carrying was gone.
It has been three years since my beloved went to Heaven, and I am still learning. However, the more I remember to turn to God and rely on Him as my husband, the calmer my pathway becomes. Remember, we do not have to walk this life alone!

Read also: Psalm 43:2 “When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee….”20150424141635 (1)

Thrive Where You are Planted


How many times have you heard a new widow say, “I feel like I can’t go one without my husband”? I have had widows say this or similar. I, myself, dragged my feet moving into a new life. I wanted my old life back. Of course, this was impossible and still is. I’ve been transplanted into a new life. Psalm 1:3 says, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth his fruit in his season…”  Each time we suffer a new loss we move on to a new season in our lives. How we move on is actually up to us. The verse Psalm 1:3 says that our delight must be in the law of the Lord. We are to meditate in His word both day and night. You see, it is not by our own strength that we can move on, but with God’s help. Just as plants need food and water to thrive, we need the food and water from God. His word is what we need. God is the Living Water. In John 6:35 Jesus says, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” If we are to thrive where we are planted we need to keep ourselves fed and watered from His word. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to look at life from a different perspective. It takes time on a journey of grief before you reach the place where you realize that you need to take that step into the new season. With the loss of my son, I remember still, seventeen years ago, I fully let go of the possession of him. I finally understood that God was telling me that Matthew was His before my son was mine. And along with that, I was God’s child more than I was a mother to my son. Once I accepted this fact, I was able to move on into that new season of my life. It has been the same with the loss of my husband. As fall approaches, I realize that this fall I am looking at my life differently. At some point toward the end of these past 27 months, I grasped onto my new identity as a widow. My new life, half of what it once was, has turned into a whole. I need to daily seek what God wants for me in this season of my life. As all seasons come and go, I know that someday this time in my life will also change again. Until then, I plan to “thrive where I have been planted.”  I pray that God will help you to do the same.

Luscious Sweet Strawberries


As my husband was becoming less able to do the things he loved to do, he planted some strawberries. He reaped a few that first summer that he planted them . The following summer he passed away. If there were any berries, I have no recollection of them. The berries were not cared for properly, but last summer I did find a few. Often since the start of this present summer I would think, I must weed those strawberries Phil planted. They are special to me and I want to keep them going. But I never got around to caring for them.

Last week my grandson came down to cut weeds in a patch of lawn that once was a small garden. I hurried and pulled the largest weeds so he could see where the strawberry plants had been, hoping to save some.  Imagine my surprise as I pulled out the weeds, some which were two feet high, to see large, plump berries! Mmm, are they sweet! Words can’t describe how I felt about finding those hidden strawberries.  It actually felt as if I had been given a gift from my husband. I must have picked a least a quart that day. I have had just a few to pick since then. When I saw that the entire area was full of large thick weeds, I had assumed that I had lost my chance of keeping those plants. How glad I am that I looked carefully before just cutting everything down.

How many times do people miss out on God’s salvation and His blessings because they aren’t willing to reach out and trust Him.  God’s word says, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed be the man that trusteth. .” Psalm 119:103 goes on to say, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea,  sweeter than honey to my mouth.” Just as I had to reach out and partake of those strawberries to experience their sweetness, we also have to reach out and read God’s word and trust Him before we can experience the sweetness of Him and His promises.

A Glimpse of Heaven


Two years ago, on June 4th, my husband entered heaven. Two pictures come to my mind when I think back to that day. They are contrasting pictures.

The first picture is one forever etched into my mind, a memory of how my husband looked as he was dying. Because of the chemo he had no hair. He had not been able to keep his food or drink down, so he was very skinny. He had lost his immunity with a previous bone marrow transplant, so he had developed a bad case of chicken pox which covered his entire head and body. All of these factors added together gave him a very ghastly appearance.

As I now envision that heart-breaking scene, I then shift to the other picture etched into my memory. This picture is actually more of a scene.

While my husband, Phil, was taking his last breaths, he opened his eyes and looked above his head and smiled! He did this three times! The last time he had a look of surprise mingled with his smile. Both my daughters and I were so blessed to have witnessed this. We knew that Phil had seen a glimpse of those who were waiting for him. Was one of them our son? Phil’s mom?  Jesus himself?

Genesis 49:33 says that Jacob “yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.”  I believe that all believer’s will be gathered unto their own. There was something very sacred about standing there and witnessing the tunnel of eternity opening to my dearest loved one.

May we all remain faithful until that day that we meet again.

 

A Anniversary Letter to my Husband


Good morning,  honey,

The sun is shining brightly this morning, and the birds are singing. There are lots of  flowers blooming outside. You know how I love spring! A morning like this warms my soul.  God gave us such a beautiful earth. What beauty you must be enjoying in Heaven! I praise the Lord for His wonderful love and goodness! While feeling this joy, I realize that I have a still, small sadness trying to creep inside my soul. May 10th keeps popping into my head. Yes, we would have been celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary this week! Even before I realized it, this sadness was creeping in. However, this year I can say that I have sadness, not sorrow. Last year I felt very sorrowful. There is a difference between the two feelings, and I am so thankful that God has brought me through the deepest of the waters and I am now on the shoreline.

I can’t help but think, “How nice it would have been to have if we could have been together and one day celebrated our 50th wedding Anniversary.” But then my thoughts turn around to realize that to be in God’s will is the only way to have real happiness. You are now in “fullness of all joy”  forever. Psalm 16:11 says, ” …in thy presence is fulness of joy….”  However, I know that this verse applies to me also. As I read this entire verse, ” Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of  joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore,”  I take these words to heart. If I strive to live daily in His presence, I can always have that joy He promises.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  I am very thankful that God allowed me to have you for my husband. Our marriage was not perfect,  as no one’s is. But we loved each other deeply. I know that God fulfilled His purpose for you down here on earth, and He now has a further purposefor me. He gave me those precious married years, but He has a plan for me now as a widow. I strive daily to walk in His will and to be sensitive to His plan for me now.

Thank you, honey,  for choosing me as your wife and for being by my side all  those years we had together. You are still my hubby.

We may not live together any more, but my heart is still tied to yours. I love you very much.

Yours forever, Kathy

New hope


As spring approaches each year, it always makes me think of new life and hope. As a person works his way through grief, it sometimes feels likes they will never rise above it.

Much of God’s beautiful creation does not show its’  “face” until springtime arrives. As we experience a long, cold winter we see only barren ground and bare trees. Then one day we notice little buds on the trees and tiny shoots coming up towards the light.  The sun shines a little brighter and a little longer. Seeing new life bursting forth, we realize that they things in nature aren’t dead, and they’re not something to toss aside. Instead, they are displaying God’s perfect order of His creation. In the spring they come forth fresh and invigorated again. They have completed one of God’s intended cycles of life. All of these signs I see in spring renew my hope, and I know that I also can come forth with an invigorated spirit.

Another reminder of this hope that comes with springtime is the hope that Easter brings us. Our hope isn’t in whether the sun shines, or flowers bloom. Our hope is in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that we have hope. Because He was crucified on the cross for our sins and rose again the third day we can have hope! We know that He sits at the right hand of God the Father. We know that all of His promises will be fulfilled and are being fulfilled every day.  “Because He lives that I can face tomorrow!”

This will be my second spring without my beloved Phil. However, when I think of him, I not only have hope, but I have full assurance that he too lives. He lives in a place that is beyond our human words of description. He’s been rewarded fullness of all joy! How do I know that?

I know that because God promises that if we trust in Him, and believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, if we believe that He truly did take our sins to the cross, and rose again the third day, we will live  eternally with Him. My husband did confess with His mouth that Christ is Lord and believed in Him.

I also know that not only does God love my husband, but he also loves me. God has a plan for me also. At this time of the year I am reminded that as long as I continue to love and follow my Savior and Lord, I can always rise above my loss. He promises in Isaiah 43:2 that He will never let the waters overtake you.  I can rise above my loss if I trust Him and allow Him to take my hand and lead me.

Not only does God have an intricate plan for the nature He created for us, but He also has a plan for each one of His children. When God fulfilled His plan for our loved ones and allowed them to go to His glorious home, He did not forget us. He has a plan for each one of us who remain. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He put a new song in my mouth…” Psalm 40: 1-3. I feel excitement with this new season coming upon us, and can rest in peace as I walk each day in His plan for me!

My prayer for each of you who are grieving is that you will be able to feel hope in the midst of your sorrow. God has not forgotten you.

For those of you who do not have Christ as your Savior, and therefore, can have no peace, my prayer is that you will look to the cross and receive Him this Easter season. It was during the Easter season many years ago that I received my faith. You can have the hope that only Christ can give.  I pray that you will seek Him now.

*Feel free to email me if I can be of help to you. Christ said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37*