It is well…

When you hear the story of Horatio Spafford, it breaks your heart. If you think about how the loss of his children led him to write the song, “It is Well With My Soul,”  it can make you either question or confirm your own faith. I’ve been struggling with what I felt was a call to write this blog. Not sure if fear or rebellion or just uncertainty contributed to my reluctance to respond to God’s push, but here I am. Let me share the words of the song before I get started sharing some things I haven’t known how to share until now:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say 

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),

With my soul, (with my soul)

It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,

And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,

No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,

Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!

Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

A song in the night, oh my soul! 

As I’ve been going through counseling the last few weeks, I’ve expressed a frustration that I haven’t been able to paint or write or create. I am so certain that God wants to share important stuff through me that I have really been careful to put my own thoughts aside and wait for what He wants to share. An empty easel stood in the room I cleared out just to make space to paint and read all summer. I had big hopes of spending time in God’s word and creating something to glorify Him, but I realize that these were my big plans and not His. This summer I spent time with my amazing children and re-purposed our home and yard in ways that meet my needs. Twenty-three years with a person created a life and world that no longer fit me. This year,  I have learned to literally put one foot in front of another with the courage to wake up each morning and face a new day. Yay, me! 

When Spafford writes that it is well with his soul after losing his treasured children, what do you think he means? Today I got it. In total honesty I thought this was something I was supposed to strive for, but I didn’t understand it until today. You know when someone does something to hurt your feelings or overlooks your needs and apologizes? We often say, “It’s okay.” It’s not okay that my husband was taken away from me. It doesn’t mean that I will go on like it never happened. I’m not angry with God. Being able to say to God, “it is well with my soul,” means that I trust Him and His plan so much more than my own understanding. It means that I  submit to His wisdom and believe that He only has the best in store for me.

I lost everything that held our life together and I still believe Jeremiah 29:11–He has plans to prosper and not to harm me. It is well with my soul means that I trust God’s plan more than my own. It means that I’m willing to subject my own preferences, goals, and future to His all-knowing power and supreme love for me and my family. I can’t even began to express how I miss Jeff every day, but I also can’t help but share how much our Lord loves me enough to knit the details of my life together in a way that I can overcome anything with Him. He is making all things new, but is also healing me and leading me into new territory. 

So, it’s not okay that Jeff is gone; but, it is well with my soul that my Lord Jesus is here and ever-present more than I experienced before. God says that he is making all things new. I’m living this every day. Some mornings it is still a struggle to get out of bed and face the world, but I believe that there is a purpose and plan in place and I will open myself up again to be used for His glory. This world I just a rest stop for eternity, but I think we’re supposed to share our lunch with whomever is waiting on the bench next to us. 

It is well with my soul because it’s not up to me. In the same way forgiving someone doesn’t necessarily absolve them from what they did, accepting that God makes decisions that we will not comprehend until we are with Him in heaven announces that we accept who is boss and are willing to accept His plan whether or not we would choose our current circumstance. I surrender to you, Lord and want your will to be done in my life. Crazy that I’ve thought I knew best so many times. Please give me an open heart that loves and is not afraid to lose again. Please bathe my family in your love and draw us closer to you each day. Thank you for my children, family, and friends that surround me and show me how much you love me each day.  I will thank you in all things, even when it’s hard. You are my Savior and I trust you to lead my life. It is well. 

Looking back

This week I read 294 printed pages of Caring Bridge posts (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jeffstroud) and comments from May 2014 through March 2016 to help me find a starting point for this blog. The outpouring of love, encouragement, and hope from friends and family is still amazing to try and absorb and I’m so thankful to have the chronology of events, photos, and God’s word all in one place because it’s too overwhelming to piece it all together in my own mind.

The first few entries report facts about Jeff’s condition and thank all of the angels God sent to help us, but something interesting happens in later posts. It’s not that God hadn’t done anything amazing before, it’s just that as I grew closer and closer to Him, He gave me words to share and the understanding that I was supposed to use this journey to honor Him. Each day something unexpected, challenging, or inconceivable happened and I turned to God for help. Many days I took the dogs on long walks and cried out, “Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus.” over and over; I remained on my feet only because the Lord was holding me up.

Call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.  Psalm 50:15

This blog will be my words, my heart, and the revelation from God that He leads me to share with you. I can’t explain this all in one introductory post, but it’s big stuff (and some little stuff, too). Until the end when Jeff could no longer read or comprehend what I wrote, I asked him to approve each entry before I submitted it. He asked me to change things on two occasions: One time I said “CRAP!  CRAP! CRAP!” and another when I said I wanted to kill him because he was making me crazy. No editor here except the Holy Spirit and I am trusting that His filters will allow the level of honesty and transparency I desire combined with a message that I pray will always point to Jesus.

I will be working on this site and praying about what God wants me to share over the next few days. There’s no specific plan or schedule, but I would love for you to join me on this new adventure.

Behold, I make all things new. Revelation 21:5

 

Beauty for Ashes

I don’t know for sure what I plan to do with this. I’ve felt that I had more to share, but wasn’t sure how to move forward. Today I began grief counseling and one of the facts that emerged was: God is doing amazing things and He might want to continue using me to share them. In obedience to Him and with a need to express how He continues to transform beauty from ashes, I will attempt this. I invite you to go on this journey with me, however flawed and raw it might be.