Tag Archive | Savior

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

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

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