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A Future And A Hope!

Hey, y’all!  I’ve been away awhile.  Frankly, I just haven’t felt like sharing anything.  Partly because there is so much going on inside and I just didn’t know how to process it, much less write about it in a public forum.  I found it difficult to even write in my private journal.  I’m somewhat back on my feet and ready to begin sharing again!

The past year has been a bit of a blur.  Not only do I continue to deal with the loss of my dear Brian, but I’ve been out of work for over a year now!  Job hunting takes up a good deal of my time, as well as  both physical and emotional energy.  Another reason I just didn’t have it in me to blog.  The job hunt continues, and I can tell you that’s it’s pretty discouraging.  As I write this, it’s downright dismal and I’m pretty down about it.  I’d appreciate your prayers and/or any leads you might have.

Many milestones, or anniversaries, have been met and I had intended to write about them as they came.  Such as the anniversary of when I drove up to Isleton, California last year to meet Brian in person (who at the time was my fiancée) for the very first time!  This occurred in late March.  I had planned to write of facing my very first wedding anniversary without Brian, which occurred in mid-April.  I had planned to write of the anniversary of Brian’s, ‘graduating to glory’, as a my friend, Lee Ann, has so aptly referred to his passing, which occurred in early May.  But I couldn’t.

To catch up, I must take you back to last year.  The holiday season was a VERY difficult time for me.  The hope and promise, love and happiness, that had permeated it the year before was sadly gone.  The holidays were simply painful, barren, and lonely days that brought me no joy or happiness.  They were grim reminders of what I had been blessed with and all too quickly lost.  How I longed for this season to come to a speedy end!  I remember thinking, “Can’t we just skip to January 2nd already?!  Dear Lord, couldn’t I just hibernate and wake up on January 2nd?!”  Even though I didn’t relish the thought of rushing into my birthday, which is on january 3, at least all this ‘happy-happy’ would be over!

The holidays are not a joyous time for many singles, even Christians. The season is all about couples and families.  Yet this is the time of year that all Christendom has chosen to celebrate the birth of our Savior, and HE should be our chief focus.  But whether right or wrong, spouse and family are a HUGE component of the holidays, and this season has a way of magnifying and intensifying one’s pain, loneliness, and loss.  We smile, we exchange gifts, we tell ourselves repeatedly that, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season.’  But it still stings…and stings badly.  When you have neither spouse nor family, or when your dreams of finally being a ‘couple’ are dashed to bits, or your spouse/family do not meet even the minimal expectation of the season, the holidays are excruciating.  I completely understand why the suicide rate goes up during this time of year.  Believe me, it did cross my mind!  But God be praised, He touched the hearts of friends to include me and my brother in their Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations.  Though I felt twinges of pain being with couples/families at these gatherings, it beat sitting home alone.  Thank You for your merciful love and goodness, Father!

Now up to this point, I thought that I’d been progressing in my journey and processing my grief in a healthy and Godly way.  But I began to feel dead inside.  So, I threw myself into more service at church, believing that this was the pathway to healing.  This is what I’ve always read and heard.  I joined in with the carolers and took part in our Christmas choir, as well as continuing to serve with the worship teams and traditional choir in our music ministry.  I helped out in the kitchen and with set-up and clean-up at funerals, memorials, potlucks, and other gatherings at church every chance I got.  I went begging for ways to help those in need within or without our church community.  I threw myself into trying to help Brian’s sister and her kids, whom I’d grown fond of…especially her eldest, Destiny.  But the deadness and the pain did not improve…they increased.  My service began to feel more like a tiring obligation.  I knew that something wasn’t right…something had happened that wasn’t good…but I didn’t know what it was.

I continued like this through the holidays, past my birthday, and into February.  I was working a seasonal temp job as an administrative assistant in Whittier, California.  But I was feeling alone, and more and more isolated.  Well-meaning folks had said things that made me feel like I should be further along in my journey…like I shouldn’t still be sad and hurting.  So, I tried to speed things up inside me.  But trying to do this made matters worse.

Finally, I came to a realization – I THINK I’M STUCK!  But how in the world did I get ‘stuck?’  I thought I was doing everything the right way.  I was serving and seeking to serve.  I was pushing past my pain to try to help others.  Isn’t this what I, as a follower of Christ, was supposed to do?  Wasn’t I supposed to ‘deny myself?’  Isn’t this message included within the gospel – do for others what you would have them do for you??  I was even being told by folks at church that what I was doing was healthy and that I was on the  right path!  But in spite of all my good works and best efforts, the fact remained  – I had become ‘stuck’ in my journey and I didn’t know what to do.  I was ‘stuck’ in quicksand and couldn’t get out…and I was goin’ under!

What happened next?  I hope you’ll come back for the next installment of,  “A Future And A Hope.”  😉

Together In Christ,

Diana Hogan

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Brian!

A Christmas and New Year’s Letter To My Husband On My Birthday, January 3rd:

Just a tad late, but Merry Christmas, Sweetheart!  And Happy New Year, too!  Oh, how I miss you!  Do you ever get the chance or desire to think of me, or to look out from Heaven and see me, hear me,  listen to me?  Do you know how very much I still love you and miss you?  Do you know it was Christmas-time last week?  What’s it like seeing face to face the One Whose birth we  celebrated here on Earth?  What’s it like being with Him continually?

This has been a rough holiday season for me, my love.  I am writing with tears streaming down my face.  I had SO hoped to be spending these holidays with you this year.  You were the answer to my many-years-long prayer for a husband, lover, partner, friend, and soulmate.  You were the love of my life.  Why did you have to go?  I participated in my church’s Christmas Choir again this year.  Did you see and hear me?  I didn’t enjoy it, but only because I was missing you so very much.  I was in a room filled with people…yet I felt so very lonely and sad.  I would have given anything to be able to go back in time and be with you as I was last year, though our being together consisted only of phone and internet contact at this point, Christmas-time 2010.

The 1-year anniversary of you proposing to me was a few days ago!  Remember?  December 30th.  You were so very sick and suffering from not being able to receive the desperately needed care from your VA docs. Their indifference is unconscionable!  I hold them all responsible for your decline and passing.  Yes, I  understand that God is and was in total control.  But I don’t understand why it all had to happen as it did and I’m venting.  When it gets too much for me, I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:5 & 6 – “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  Yes, I still prefer the old King James, though I’m warming up to the New King James version…lol!  It’s difficult, but I’m learning to trust our Heavenly Father when He doesn’t make sense to me.  You know how hard this is for me, Sweetheart.

Do you know it’s my birthday today?  Nothing special was done…just another day…(sigh)  You were supposed to spend it with me last year, remember?  You were going to come down south for the winter and spend it with friends in the Palm Desert/Palm Springs area.  We were finally going to spend some ‘in person’ time together and get better acquainted.  (Truth be told, I think you were going to propose!)  You were going to take me to Catalina in the new sailboat you’d been given!  That would have been the very first time I’d ever been sailing!  Still waiting for that first time.  But instead, you were in the hospital, gravely ill, and we spent it on the phone, which was fine with me…I was still spending it doing what I loved doing with you – talking and listening to you!

Brian, December has been a very hard month for me, and I’m sorry to say that I let myself be tripped up by the ‘why me?’, ‘why did God do this to me?’, ‘God must not want me to ever have any happiness’, syndrome.  I’m sorry.  This isn’t what I learned or experienced with you.  You never let yourself fall prey to this type of attitude.  And if you did, you got yourself out of that pit FAST!  But I so miss you!  I miss talking with you, talking about our Heavenly Father and studying the Word with you, listening to you tell me stories about your life.  Remember how we could talk for hours and it felt like only a little while had passed?  Remember how hard it was to end our conversations?  Remember how much fun we had just talking and sharing with one another?  Remember how you introduced me to the ‘Left Behind’ movie series?  We had a couple of movie dates and ‘watched’ them over the phone together.  I loved it!  Oh, how I miss this!

I went to visit your earthly resting place on Christmas Day and today on my birthday.  Remembering that your favorite color is blue, I left you some Irises as a Christmas present.  Though more violet, they were the bluest flower I could find.  Blue has become my favorite color, too…:)  I don’t like where you were placed.  It’s so dry and dusty because they’ve yet to plant sod so I end up kneeling in the dirt which is hard, rocky, and uncomfortable.  Had I been given a choice, I certainly wouldn’t have picked that part of the cemetery.  I’d have chosen a place with trees and grass.  But you’re in Heaven now and are enjoying trees and grass and water in abundance and purity!

Brian, I sometimes wonder if our whole relationship was real or if I dreamt it.  But I see our wedding pics and my brother confirms that he was there to take them.  I often wonder if what I remember experiencing of you, with you, was real or if I’m remembering it all, and you, better than it actually was.  I know that once someone is gone we have a tendency to forget their faults, forget the bad, and remember them far better than they really were.  I ask and wonder because when I hear some women speak of their husbands and marriages it’s sometimes with disdain, contempt, frustration and anguish at the lack of communication, the lack of understanding, the lack of cooperation, the lack of thoughtfulness, the lack of love.  Some of these marriages are rather strained and some are even falling apart.  But our experience was quite different.  Oh, we got on each other’s nerves from time to time, but by the grace of God, we didn’t lose respect for one another.  I believe this makes a BIG difference when it comes to spousal conflict.

Sweetheart, the total sum of our relationship, from first meeting, to friendship, to courtship, to marriage, was a total of fourteen months.  It would have been much longer if ‘someone’ had been able to tell me how they felt about me early on…ahem…:)  Yet never in that time did I experience with you the agonies and aggravations that other women speak of.  We did get on one another’s nerves a few times, remember?  LOL!  But you put me so at ease when you lovingly told me, ‘That’s ok…I’ve allowed for this.  I knew we were going to have difficulties learning to communicate with one another and I allowed for this.’  It also bugged you that I didn’t want to make multiple trips when tidying up, so I would load up my arms with all the stuff that needed to be put away so I would just make ONE trip across the room.  You couldn’t see the sense in my logic and I couldn’t see the sense in your logic…but it sure bugged you to see me with my hands full of stuff to put away…lol!  However, we always sought to understand the other’s point of view and not belittle.  Brian, I really wanted to understand why my need to make as few trips across the room as possible bugged you so much…but we weren’t given the time.

You were also interested in what I was thinking, what I was feeling, always.  I remember you telling me when I marveled and told you how much I appreciated this, “Well, when you love somebody, you should be interested in what they’re thinking and feeling.”  To you, this was simply common sense.  Wow!  You’d really been doing your homework, Brian!

When you knew I had something on my mind and heart that I was having difficulty expressing, you would firmly, but kindly, ask and say to me, ‘What is it?  Talk to me.  Just spit it out.’  That would give me the courage and confidence to say what I had to say.  And you always seemed to know when something was troubling me, no matter how hard I tried to hide it.  How intuitive you were!  Brian, when I hear some women speak of their husbands and marriages, even Christians who have been married far longer than we were, I marvel that there are still struggles with communication, verbal intimacy, thoughtlessness, household duties, self-centeredness, even infidelity.  And in some cases, the struggles aren’t lessening the longer they’re married.

Only God knows what you and I would have struggled with later in our marriage had He let you live.  But I think we had an advantage that precluded, and would have continued to prevent, many of these struggles:  We both had studied, for a long time, how to have Godly relationships and Godly marriages.  We both had studied about male/female thinking, behaviors, needs, why we think, feel, and behave as we do, why we see things so differently from one another, why we need what we need, and learning how and why God made us as He did.  In learning these things, we gained an understanding and appreciation for those differences.  We learned that the differences were designed by God Himself with specific purposes in mind and were not intended to frustrate.  We learned that our differences are not weaknesses or liabilities, but strengths to be used to help and support one another.

We also learned about love.  I thought I knew what love is, until the Lord began teaching me.  Love isn’t about getting our own personal needs met.  It’s not about ME.  It’s about the other person.  Love serves and sees no shame, degradation, or humiliation in serving.  When God began to work this into my heart, my whole understanding about marriage and relationships was dramatically transformed!  My eyes and heart were opened and I longed ‘to serve.’  Not as a slave, not as having no identity of my own.  But as Christ came to serve.  God, in human form, came TO SERVE the humanity He created!  The Almighty GOD is a ‘servant’ God and Father!  Not a genie, but as a loving parent ‘serves’ their children, doing always what is in their best interest, meeting their ‘needs,’ so He does with those called by His name!  Brian, in putting you, your needs, your feelings before myself, I found such joy and happiness that I’d never experienced before!  And in so doing, I found my own needs being met completely!  Brian, I know you must have learned the same, because you behaved as a loving servant to me!  Why, oh why, is this so hard for people to understand?  They don’t realize what happiness, peace, joy, and love they’re missing out on!

Brian, I’m not trying to say that we had it all together and would never have had any difficulties.  We’re both hard-headed, as you kept reminding me…lol!   Oh sure, we would have continued to get on each other’s nerves now and then as we learned to live with one another and as we would have to deal with life’s curve balls and frustrations…that’s just life in an imperfect world.  And I’m sure at times we would have made mistakes, been in bad moods, reacted harshly or impatiently with one another, spoken in anger to one another.  Again, this is just life in an imperfect world with two imperfect people trying to build a life together.  Like you said, it’s to be expected.  But as long as we each kept the Lord FIRST in our lives, kept Him at the center of our marriage, as long as we maintained respect and a servant’s heart for one another, as long as we could humble ourselves and  say, ‘I’m sorry,’ I believe God would have helped us and blessed us with a happy union…:)  And Sweetheart, you were definitely a man of God.  HE was most certainly FIRST and foremost in your life…and this makes a huge difference!

Thank you, my friends, for allowing me to indulge myself some.  I hope I’ve not bored you all while I ‘talked’ with my dear husband.  I hope there was something that you could glean that would be of some help or encouragement to you.  Truly, I’d been wondering if I was remembering correctly as I’d been hearing of such troubled marriages.  I needed to talk things through and make sure.  I’m now certain that I am remembering truthfully and correctly…to God be the glory!

Brian, thank you, my love, for being the man I longed and prayed for.  You know, your former pastor, Pastor Glen, once told me, “You got hold of a good man.”  Dearest Father, thank You for the gift of ‘a good man.’  Short though it was, thank You for the gift of a loving marriage!  Could You do so again?  🙂

Happy New Year, my friends!  May the Lord bless you richly in this new year.  May He guide you to experience ‘joy in the sorrow.’  And when He does, may you encourage others!

Together in Christ,

Diana

Trust in the Lord With ALL Thine Heart

Greetings, my fellow travelers.  Well, I’m nearly seven months into my journey as a widow.  I thought I’d gotten my bearings and was progressing in a healthy fashion.  But I’ve somehow become side-tracked.  Don’t know exactly when it happened or what did it.  It’s probably that the ‘holidays’ are here, but my dear Brian isn’t.  All I know is that I’ve gotten back into that old, ‘why me…what did I do to deserve this?’, frame of mind.  That’s not a good place to be and I don’t like it!  It wastes precious time and energy and impedes, I think, proper healing because it’s rooted in self-centeredness and not Christ-centeredness.

You might say, “But I’m hurting!  Half my heart has been ripped out of me!  Why shouldn’t I be focused on myself and my pain? What do I care about Christ? Why should I be Christ-centered?  That won’t bring back my spouse!”  I hear you…believe me, I hear you.  This was my frame of mind for about the first month or two…definitely the first two weeks!  I was floundering.  I knew Jesus was supposed to be there but I couldn’t seem to find Him, couldn’t seem to grasp hold of Him.  I didn’t realize that He was there…He had hold of me.  But I couldn’t feel or see this.  For many days I couldn’t pray, couldn’t find any scripture that would ease the pain or give me hope.  Oh, I knew my dear Brian was in the arms of Jesus where, next to me, he longed to be, and that I’d be reunited with him one day soon.  But what about ME here and now?  Nothing made sense and that’s a problem for me.  I don’t care what it is, it’s gotta’ make sense!  But God often doesn’t make sense…at least, not to our way of thinking.  Not because He delights in confounding us, but rather, it’s because of our fallen human nature that we don’t think and understand as the Lord does.  ‘”For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” says the Lord.  (Isaiah 55:8, NKJV)  And “…having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;” (Ephesians 4:17, NKJV)

Without Christ we are blind and alienated from the life and understanding of God. Without His Life and Spirit in us we have no way of understanding His thoughts and ways.  And though we may have given our lives to Christ and are walking with Him, there are times when what He does or allows in our lives just won’t make any sense to us!  This is when we must rely on our instruments, like a sailor out at sea in a heavy fog who cannot see the sky. For the Christian, that instrument is the Word of God – the Bible.

Well, that’s where I was for nearly two weeks after my dear Brian went to be with the Lord.  I was stuck in, ‘it doesn’t make any sense.’  You see, Brian was the answer to my many-years-long prayer for a Godly husband…and I was the answer to his long-time prayer for a Godly wife.  I was everything God knew Brian needed and wanted, and Brian was everything that God knew I needed and wanted!  We were so happy to have finally found one another…so eager to begin a life together of serving one another and serving others as the Lord would lead us.  We knew it was going to be very hard work to get him back to health, but I would have endured any hardship for Brian!  He had so many plans for missions work…he was so sure God had more work for him to do, and he finally had a partner who wanted to join him in that work!

But the cancer Brian had fought since December 2006 had returned for the 3rd and last time.  This time it manifested itself in a completely different way so it wasn’t caught in time to resume treatment.  It had mutated into a much more aggressive form and grew quickly.  A born fighter, Brian was determined to fight and WIN as the Lord had previously enabled him to do.  But it wasn’t to be.  Though almost every member in my church was praying and trusting God for healing, along with many others around the country, it wasn’t to be.  On May 9th, 2011, at 7:18pm, God took my precious husband ‘home’ after only 24 days of marriage.  I was heartbroken and devastated!  “Why, Father?  Why did You answer our prayers for Godly spouses, give us hope for a life together, only to take it all away?  Why??  What did we do or not do?  What did I do or not do??  How could You do this to me?  Why would You be so cruel?  Why would You take someone away who only wanted to serve You, someone who only wanted to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples?”  How I tried and tried to figure it out but couldn’t.  I was angry and bewildered with God.  I felt He had tricked me.  I felt He was cruel and unfair, much like my step-father.  I was having a crisis of faith.

During this time I continued to tune into Christian programming on radio and TV.  I was desperately hoping to hear something that would help me.  I did, but it took me almost two weeks before I recognized the lifeline my Heavenly Father was handing me.  Whenever I tuned into a program, whether radio or TV, it seemed that ONE scripture in particular was being discussed or taught:  “Trust in the Lord with ALL thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5, KJV)  It finally dawned on me that there must be a reason why I kept hearing messages and discussions on this verse.

And once again, this verse has called me back to what I must do – trust in my Heavenly Father with ALL my heart…and stop trying to figure Him out and make Him fit my way of thinking!  This verse has put me back on track.  No, it doesn’t give me any answers to all the ‘whys.’  I still have those and probably will until that wonderful, glorious day when He finally calls me ‘home’ and I see my Savior and Lord face to face!  Rather, God bids me to rest in His loving wisdom and let Him carry out His work through the situation, and join Him in His work!

When you were little, did your parents ever have you do chores that made no sense to you?  Did you ever ask why you had to do them?  Did they ever say, ‘you’ll understand when you’re older’?  Or maybe you asked a question that your parents knew was beyond your years and wisely deferred the answer for a later time when you’d be better able to understand and handle the answer?  I’ve learned that this is exactly what God does.  As the all-wise, all-knowing and loving Father that He is, He often cannot explain His doings because we just are not able to understand.  I often say it’s like trying to teach calculus to infants…do you think they’ll understand? If God tried to explain we probably couldn’t comprehend.  And sometimes He doesn’t explain because He wants us to trust Him…trust in His love…trust that He has our best interest at heart no matter what the situation looks or feels like…trust that He knows what He’s doing.  We honor Him when we do this.

I still don’t know why it was necessary for the Lord to take my precious Brian ‘home’ so soon and not give us a chance at a life together and a life of service to Him.  Not a moment goes by that I don’t miss Brian terribly.  But I choose to put my trust in my Heavenly Father.  He knows what He’s doing.  Not one tear, not one pang of grief goes unnoticed or unfelt by this loving God!  Nor is it for naught…He has lovingly and with great care designed and ordained a purpose for it all!  That’s why I chose this picture of the iceberg.  There is more going on than simply what is visible to me.   I must trust that He is working out a far greater purpose and plan not only for and in me, but for and in others.  I’m being drawn into a closer relationship with my Heavenly Father because of Brian’s passing…that’s one of the purposes.  My faith and trust in Him are growing stronger…that’s another purpose. I’m being prepared and equipped for something…what it is, I don’t know yet.

But growth doesn’t come without pain…Brian would call trials ‘growing pains.’  God doesn’t tell me that I must understand all the details…but He does tell me that I must trust Him with ALL my heart, and not rely on my understanding!  “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV)  Thank you for letting me talk things out and encourage myself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6, KJV)  I hope this is of some help to someone.

Together in Christ,

Diana

Does This Ever Happen To You?

Your day is going well. You are plodding along, dealing with your new companions, sorrow and loneliness, learning about them and their new significance in your life when…BAM! It happens! Just like the two comets in this photo are on a collision course with one another, you find yourself on a collision course with a well-meaning friend and their words of  ‘encouragement.’  They ask how you are doing and you decide you will be honest with them.  “I miss my husband terribly and I just want the pain to stop…please pray for me.”

Now, you know things are not going to get better anytime soon. You know that you will be traveling with loneliness and pain for some time yet.  You didn’t ask for advice, only prayer.  You just needed to express how much you miss your spouse and that it hurts A LOT.  Your well-meaning friend then proceeds to tell you how much worse it’s going to get, especially with the upcoming holidays.  Did you really need a reminder of this??

Friends, so well-meaning and caring, can sometimes make us feel worse. This happened to me over the weekend.  I had expressed how much I was missing my dear Brian, how I just wanted the pain to stop, and requested their prayers. My friend, very clinically, proceeded to explain to me how I must travel this dark, lonely, and painful road.  The pain will mellow in time, they said, but won’t ever go away and reminded me how I’ll be missing my Brian even more with the coming holidays.  I know this was meant to encourage me, but it didn’t.  I already knew this and didn’t need the reminder.  I have tried not to focus on the upcoming holidays and the acute sadness I’ll be feeling.  I have tried not to focus on the darkness of the journey.  My friend also encouraged me to not isolate myself but to stay connected with by bible study groups, which I am doing.  But do I really want to expose myself to constant reminders of how dark, lonely, and painful it’s going to get??  I think I’ll stay in isolation, thank you very much…lol!

Another time a dear friend, a ‘mom-type’ in my life, told me within a month or two of my dear husband’s passing that perhaps God wanted me to stay single after all. Brian and I had only been married 24 days before the Lord took him Home and we had both married late in the game – 50 and 53.  This was the first marriage for us both.  I know she didn’t mean to hurt me, but that’s exactly what she did.

Sigh.  What to do, what to do with well-meaning friends who are trying to help because they love and care about us, but at times botch it.  As Christians, we must respond in love.  Sometimes it is best to just take what they give us in the spirit intended and say, ‘thank you,’ and move on.  Other times we might gently explain to them that what they just gave us is not what we needed or asked for.  We must remember that in all likelihood they do not understand what we are experiencing.  How can they unless they have gone through it?  A spouse’s passing is far, far different from the passing of a parent, or child, or other loved one.  I know the pain of a parent’s passing.  I know the pain of a sibling’s untimely passing.  In my introduction post I stated that we are literally missing a part of us…half, to be exact. As the scripture says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  (Genesis 2:24, New King James)

If you know a widow or widower, and you have not experienced what they are experiencing, please take a moment to think before you speak.  Often what is most needed is simply a loving and patient ear to listen.  Please be sensitive. Unless expressly asked for advice, refrain from giving it, especially if you have not experienced what they are going through.  Just let your friend talk…listen without judgement, without trying to ‘fix’ them.  When it is time for you to speak and if you don’t know what to say, tell them this.  Offer to pray with or for them.  Guide them to the Psalms.  We appreciate this far more than being told you understand us when you actually don’t.  When meeting with or writing to your grieving friend, pray beforehand and ask “…the God of ALL comfort…” (2 Corinthians 1:3, New King James) to give you what your friend is needing so you can then pass it along to them, and if the Lord would have you to say anything.

Above all, please be patient with us and let us express our pain, our loneliness, our sadness, our fears. Don’t think we’re expecting you to ‘fix’ us. We know you can’t do this…only God can and will, in time.  If you try to ‘fix’ us, chances are you will inadvertently hurt us.  A warm hug, a kind smile, the holding of a hand, a phone call, a card, an invitation for coffee/tea, a visit, an offer of help, an available, empathetic, and loving spirit go a long way in helping the grieving and wounded heart to heal.  We do not want to be lied to or mislead…we want the truth.  But sometimes being brutally blunt is not the best way to present it, especially to someone who is grieving.

By no means am I saying that only widows and widowers can comfort and encourage widows and widowers, though they are the best qualified because they actually do understand. As Christians, we are ALL of us called to, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2, New King James)  I only ask that you think before you speak.  Try to put yourself in our place…how would you want to be encouraged and comforted?  What would you find most helpful?  I hope I have not discouraged anyone from reaching out to comfort and encourage a grieving friend. Instead, I hope I have been able to give you some insights so that you will now know how to be much more effective and helpful. Believe me…your friends will thank you!  🙂

I don’t know.  Maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind when reading my friend’s email.  It’s nearly six months since my dear Brian’s passing and I must say that the bulk of the encouragement and comfort I have received from friends has been positive and affirming! Thank you to ALL my friends for your love, concern, and support…it has not gone unnoticed by me, nor by the One who will reward your loving efforts. God is good!

Together in Christ,

Diana

P.S.  Have you any stories or comments you would like to share about well-meaning friends’ words of ‘encouragement’, or something you were given that really helped you during a time of need or grief, or how the Lord has used you to be a friend to someone in need?  Any insights you would like to share?

What I’m About

Apple BlossomsHello…I’m new to blogging, so please bear with me as I learn.

My name is Diana Hogan. I’m a recent widow, just 5-1/2 months.  It was suggested to me to create a blog and document this journey as a way to not only help myself heal, but to help others, men and women, that are going through the same lonely journey, wondering if anyone knows or cares or understands what it is they’re experiencing.  Please let me assure you that you are NOT crazy…the pain and the emptiness you feel are very real.  You are literally missing a part of yourself!  Let no one tell you that it is time to move on or to stop grieving…only God and you will know when this time comes.  I am open to any thoughts and experiences, or encouragement you are willing to share.  Together, we can help each other through this ‘Valley of the Shadow of Death’, and learn to not merely survive the journey, but to thrive during and because of the journey.

I must tell you upfront that I am a Christian.  Everything I will be sharing will come through the filter of my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Without HIM, I can do nothing.  Without HIM, I would have checked out of this life long before now.  HE is my hope!

It is my hope and prayer that through our sharing with one another we will enter into a stronger and deeper, more intimate knowledge and relationship with the Almighty, thus allowing Him to heal our broken hearts and wounded spirits.  It is my hope and prayer that we will find God faithful and Someone Who is completely trustworthy, even when it looks and feels like He is nowhere to be found.  Yes, I have felt like this, and still do sometimes as I journey alone.  That is when I have to set my course by faith, or by instruments, as a sailor would say.  Sometimes on foggy nights, when a sailor can’t see the familiar celestial bodies in the sky that have always been his help, he must rely on his instruments to guide him.  So in our life journeys, when our tears and the fog of our sorrow seem to have obliterated God from our sight and our life, we must rely on His Word, on God that cannot lie, to see us through!

I’ll be back with my first official post soon.  I look forward to the new friends I hope to make on this journey!

Together in Christ,

Diana