How God Uses Our Story {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

As we close week two of our Rays in the Storm series, I am honored to introduce you to a dear friend, Lisa Appelo. I was introduced to Lisa through mutual blogging friends, and am always encouraged by her message of hope in a God who is unchanging. If there’s anything I’ve learned from Lisa’s words, it’s that God is always faithful, even in the midst of tragedy. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares her thoughts on how loss can bring us together.

When Loss Creates a Kindred Connection

I didn’t know her but I could not forget her story. We had several mutual friends in our not-so-big town and her story spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between moms at play group.

Friends said her family had been especially close-knit and I knew they were active in their church and the community. But over the holiday weekend there had been a terrible car accident, and her husband and two of her four children had been killed.

As her story replayed in my thoughts over the next few months, I prayed for her and her two remaining children. I could not fathom the pain, the layers of grief, the sheer weight of her loss.

How does someone recover from such a loss, I wondered? I could only wonder — that kind of pain was completely foreign to me.

Two years passed and our family moved away to another town when my husband was offered his dream job. And as happens with these kinds of things and the passage of time, her story became a tender memory.

Until our paths crossed in the wake of my own unexpected loss.

My husband, the man who’d been my first and only date and my high school sweetheart, had died in his sleep. We had been a close-knit family, active in our church and in our community. He had been an incredible father.

Overnight, I was suddenly a widow and single mom to seven kids. I was neck deep in pain and paperwork and the perplexity of helping my children navigate this tragedy.

I had a hundred worries in those first weeks. Would we be okay? How would my kids handle this? How was I going to single parent my boys just coming of age or help my teenage daughter through the loss of her dad? What about my 4- and 6-year-olds? What did my future hold?

Her bereavement card was one of the first I received. She had handwritten a short note and included a Publix gift card.

My story had spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between mutual friends and out of the enormity of her grief, she had reached out to me.

Her simple kindness met my questions in ways that other cards and hugs could not. It was a small gesture that offered me huge hope.

When Loss Creates Kindred Connection

She got it. She was a young widow. She had suffered unexpected loss and she was navigating children through tragedy and grief. Though her story was different than mine – in many ways harder and more complex — our losses created a kindred connection.

Her card and gift were a welcome gift. Welcome to the club of those who have suffered loss and are still breathing.

Her card and gift whispered that there was hope and there would be life again.

Her card and gift offered the encouragement and answers to my hundred questions that few others could.

God can use our story to strengthen another in her story. If she out of the unfathomable loss of her story could extend comfort to me in ours, we would be okay.

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4)


Lisa Appelo closeup

 

Lisa Appelo is a single mom to 7 and unexpected widow, crazy in love with Christ. She writes about God’s faithfulness and gives hope and encouragement for the hard, the good and the places in between. She’s written 100 Days with Christ and you can get your free copy at www.TrueandFaithful.net. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

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26 thoughts on “How God Uses Our Story {Rays in the Storm Series}

  1. Lisa, thank you for sharing your heart. I’m sorry for your loss.There is nothing more tender than the encouragement we find in the fellowship of sufferers.
    I hope to get to meet you one day soon.
    Blessings ~

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  3. Thanks Abby and Lisa for sharing this. What a heart-breaking story. Just prayed for you again. Thank you for the amazing encouragement and challenge regarding the hardest parts of our stories.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m inspired by your faith. It’s a reminder to me how short life is and to appreciate and not take for granted the ones we love. May God continue to cross our paths with those whose stories offer strength and comfort in our present need. God bless you!

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    • Amen, Valerie. Lisa’s faith is truly inspiring and I’m thankful she shared this story. I love how God works through the body of the church when we need it the most. Thanks for stopping by today.

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  5. Beautiful, Lisa … such a great picture of what happens when we step out of our circumstances and reach into another persons life. It could not have been easy for her or you, but it’s exactly what God wants us to do for each other, for His body. Thank you for sharing and Abby, for bringing it to us. Hugs friends…adore you both.

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    • She really taught me to reach out to people who we know OF but haven’t yet met. What an act of faith and such encouragement. Thank you, Tiffany. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What a beautiful story of God’s pursuant love through the hard. Always moving His people together. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this.

    It reminds me of a beautiful friend of mine, whose husband passed away just over a year ago from cancer, leaving her alone with four teenage girls. I’ve seen God place women who know deep grief close beside her and I’ve personally been incredibly blessed by the powerful hope pouring out of her in the midst of the awful hard in my own lesser grief. Praise God that He never leaves us completely alone…through the hard.

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    • Anna, my condolences to your friend. ❤ I found the second year really hard. But you are so right that God gives us such hope right in the midst of the hard. Thank you for that testimony!

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  8. Lisa, thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m so sorry for your loss, but I must say that your strength and faith are such a testimony of God’s faithfulness. Even in the darkest of times, He is near and sends others to encourage us. I love how He connected you with others who could identify with your loss. Praying He continues to guide you and your family on the path He has for you!

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  9. Lisa,
    Thank you for sharing your heart and your story…I can’t even begin to imagine. I lost my husband to abandonment, infidelity, and divorce. It was a different kind of loss, but grief nonetheless. God has used my pain and recovery to enable me to reach out to others who are going through similar trials. That is how we can bring beauty from the ashes of our experiences. There is no other harbor for our heart quite like someone who can say, “I’ve been there.” Beautiful…
    Blessings,
    Bev

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  10. What an amazing display of courage for both of you Lisa. Thank you for sharing your story and I am so sorry for your loss. I pray God will grant you the wisdom to guide you on this unexpected path. I know that you will bless many others with your story as God uses you for His glory. Thanks again for sharing and may God richly bless you and yours!

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  11. I’m so sorry for your loss, Lisa. To lose a spouse must be an indescribable grief. And then to think your friend lost two children as well. Only God’s love and grace can ever get one through it. I pray that both of you will be strengthened for each day and that Jesus will abundantly fill your aches with His presence. This is such an amazing testimony of how God uses our pain for a purpose. It has encouraged me so much. My prayer is that God uses my story as well to help others who are hurting. Thank you, Lisa and Abby. Blessings and hugs to you both!

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  12. Oh sweet Lisa! This post absolutely broke my heart! I hugged my 17 month old son close and will send a prayer of thanks to God for you tonight. Thank you for reminding me how quickly my husband could be cut from my life. That will make me hug him tighter and tell him I love him more. Same goes for my son, Mason. I am so sorry for your loss and can’t imagine that I would be able to continue to function without my Angel (yep, that really is his name).
    Thank you so much for being the strong woman you are to share this story, this gut wrenching part of your life.

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