Feb 01 2013

Week Two of “The Blessing Journal Challenge” knocked me to my Knees!

God is working through “The Blessing Journal Challenge” in ways that I did not expect…humbling ways…life and relationship transforming ways.  Let me put it this way…Week two of “The Blessing Journal Challenge” knocked me to my knees.  With this happening, I have come to realize that I really feel led to share with all of you how God has worked in my life, the beautiful, the rough and dealt with the ugly in me with such grace that is hard to describe.

In the process, I’ve prayed about it, run it by the ladies in the Blessing Journal Facebook Groups, and I am going to divide things up a bit…and to me, it makes a little more sense.  I really appreciate your patience with me as I get all of this figured out.  It is my first time journaling in this way and it is definitely the first time I have led something like this on my blog.  So thanks for hanging in here with me!

Here’s the way things will start happening as of tonight.  (Sorry you don’t have more notice!)

Friday nights…I will share how God has worked in my life through that week’s journal questions/actions

Sundays…I will share a devotion helping all of us to prepare our hearts and minds for the new week of journaling and at the end of each Sunday’s devotion, I will list the journaling questions/actions for the coming week for adults and then another list for children.

I hope this simplifies the process a little for you.  I know it will make it less overwhelming for me!  And this way, for those of you who are using the suggested Blessing Journal daily questions/actions for each week, you can print out that post and keep it in your journal for the week and have each week in one place.  Make sense?  Great!

So here we go.

Like I said earlier, the journaling questions/actions for Week Two really knocked me to my knees.  That may sound strange to you since I am the one who wrote them and all.  I write them after much prayer and asking the Lord to help me know what He wants me and all of us to focus on for the coming week in our journaling.  And to be honest, last week’s kind of threw me a little when I was writing them.  I mean, I knew that focusing on His Grace as we get started in this process is very helpful since that is where all Blessings originate…but the part about mending relationships, kind of took my by surprise for journaling with all of you.  But there had to be a reason and so I obeyed God and shared what I felt led to in the questions and actions for the week.

It wasn’t long at all before the purpose became clear to me.

As I began the week with reading through Scripture passages to find my Grace focused passage for the week, I assumed I would focus on my favorite verse…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 9 NIV

In fact that was the direction I was headed until I was reading through the pages and blogs I follow on Facebook and this passage reached in and touched my heart in a way that is difficult to explain…

Psalm 68:4-6 NLT– Mary Joy’s Week 2 Day 1

Sing praises to God and to his name!
    Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds.
His name is the Lord—
    rejoice in his presence!

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—
    this is God, whose dwelling is holy.
God places the lonely in families;
    he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.
Psalm 68: 4-6 NLT

Oh wow.

Tears streamed down my face as I read it…over and over again.

The words ministered to me in a way which I needed more than I ever realized and as my eyes and mind drank in each word…the message God was sending me through this passage was like living water to a withering plant.

It has been so long since I have read this passage.  I am familiar with the passages in the New Testament which call the church to help take care of the widows and orphans…but this…this passage…touched my soul in a ways that drew me into my heavenly Father’s arms closer than ever.

It may sound funny but I knew that Scripture called God the Father to the fatherless, but the phrase defender of widows…wow!  And how it is phrased…

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows~ THIS IS GOD, whose dwelling is holy.”

So much hit me from this verse and this passage that it would take pages to share it with all of you…but I will share this…

After struggling for six+ months with the idea of being called Will’s widow…for reasons that are hard to explain.  The floodgates of the pain of being a widow broke and the healing tears poured forth in a very, very unexpected way for me.  I realize now that I am not just A WIDOW…alone and unattached to anyone.  I am my WILL’S WIDOW…he has gone ahead of me to heaven, but my love for him is still real.  And now that he is no longer here to defend and protect me…GOD is my defender!  My defender!  Wow!  Such powerful words!!!

I need not fear because even more than God was my protector before…that role takes on a new and even more powerful meaning for me. And all of my fears and heart-break at being called a widow are slowly melting away as I accept MY new role in God’s family.  As God drew me close to Him and helped me to better understand that it is OK for me to let my guard down and accept this new stage of my relationship with Him as a precious gift.  The realization that being Will’s widow is a new stage of my relationship with him and God is with me through all of it…because as the Psalm says “that’s who God is!”

With tears streaming down my face, I realized I needed to stop trying to protect and care for my little family all by myself and stop thinking that I am less than I was before because I need help from the Body of Christ every once in a while.

I asked God to forgive my pride and take it from me.  I prayed that He would replace it with a new humility and graciousness in place of the fear of people thinking I can’t take care of everything myself.  So much baggage from my previous marriage to my first husband color and built that need for total self sufficiency and not wanting the church of any of my brothers or sisters in Christ to think I was “in need”.

God helped me to see that this is totally different.

He gently held me and helped me to take down that wall that I was holding  onto so strongly…the feeling of shame that would fill me when my greatest fear was people thinking I was needy instead of seeing that God was reaching out to me with His amazing grace and love through the Body of Christ…His way of touching me with skin on.  One of the many ways that God is my protector.  I was speechless as He opened my eyes to this and so much through this time of sitting at His feet and taking in all He had to say to me.

I realized that I feared pity because of that fear built up a wall of protection around myself hoping that no one would be able to see how much I my heart was hurting and how much I needed to open my arms that I had clinched around myself in self-protection and instead, open them to accept the love, hugs, and heart offerings without fear that people only did it because they felt sorry for me.

So much changed after that this week.

Tuesday, I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a women’s Bible Study group which I had been invited to join.  It was a wonderful experience and I look forward to going back this coming week.

Thursday, I again stepped out of my comfort zone and took the boys to our public library’s evening family story time.  We all met new friends and we had a wonderful time…which we will do again next week weather permitting.

And I have felt God’s presence with me in an even more powerful and real way through every day this week…every challenge and every victory…even more than I had been already!  What a powerful experience!!!

And because I was able to let go of the need to prove, even to God, that I can handle this new chapter of my life as Will’s widow with very little help…I had the amazing blessing of experiencing God’s grace more deeply than I had before.  In one of the special times of quiet as I lay in bed at night and sit at His feet and listen, He was able to reveal to me some changes I needed to make in how I communicate with my boys and I was able to receive wonderful guidance and direction in such a humbling and beautiful way of how to better approach them in times of frustration when I am dealing with parenting challenges so that I am disciplining them and training them in a more calm, consistent, and with more grace…the grace He offers me…instead of coming unglued so easily as I felt so overwhelmed. I realized I needed to stop and breathe and at times stop stressing over the small stuff.  I was even able to remember some of the fun ways Will and I used to work with the boys to help motivated them to work with me instead of whine at me about chores and use positive reinforcement more while training them to respect me, themselves and each other and to honor God in all they do. And we had a much better week!

I will share some more about the changes God is helping me to make in my Wednesday post next week…segment two of “Real life as a Recently Widowed Homeschooling Mama”.

I know this was long…but I hope you have found some encouragement here as I share how I discovered God’s grace in a new way in my own life this past week.

I look forward to sharing a special devotion and reflection questions/actions for next week on Sunday.  I hope you are finding this helpful.  I would love to hear any feedback you have to offer or just to hear how your journaling is going.

I would love to hear how things went for you this past week if you would like to share with me in the comments here!  Each of your comments makes my day!

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Sitting at the feet of Jesus with so much to learn,

Mary Joy

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

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