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.

 

When Hope Makes Us Brave {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

As we continue our Rays in the Storm series, I am glad to be welcoming my friend Christy Mobley back to the blog. Christy’s heart for hospitality and encouragement have blessed me more times than I can count, and her loving spirit shines through in her writing. What I love about her style is her ability to cut through any pretense and fluff and get straight to the heart of the matter. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares a very personal story with us today.

When Hope Makes Us Brave

In my 33 years of married life my husband and I have lost a baby, both my parents, too many precious friends to count, numerous pets and a job position that changed the trajectory of our lives. In each instance there was hope, because God is hope and He has always been in our midst.

When Abby asked me to write on the subject of loss, I had many choices but when it came time to putting words on paper the decision fell hard.

Today, my thoughts turn to someone I didn’t know personally but whose testimony God used to bring me peace of mind and awake a gift I didn’t know I had.

On August 6, 2011 my husband and I waited in a condo near the military base where my son was to arrive home the next day from a tour of duty in Iraq. Our nerves were already on pins and needles when the program we were watching was interrupted for a special news report.

A Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan killing 22 Navy Seals, 3 Air Force special ops. and everyone else on board.

Our son was already in route home but my heart ached for those families who wouldn’t see their solider boy’s homecoming.

In the days that followed personal stories about this group of the fallen brave started popping up all over the news. This was a historical event as it would mark the first time in U.S. history that the world would get a glimpse into the personal lives of these mysterious, superhuman, covert warriors, always kept in the shadows and known to us only as Navy Seals.

On our trek from Hurlburt Field back to Tampa, I heard a story on the radio of one such super hero, Aaron Vaughn, told by his grandmother to a Fox News reporter.

After a few minutes of questions about why her grandson became a Seal and what he was like as a child, the reporter came to a couple of questions that struck a nerve and pierced my heart.

“Did Aaron ever say he was afraid to die? Was he ever scared he would be killed on a mission?”

This sweet-tempered woman answered with a gentle but firm, “No.” And then with conviction in her voice went on to tell the reporter, her grandson knew there was a risk of death with every mission, and his bravery came from his hope.

He knew where he was going when he died.

When Hope Makes Us Brave

I was always the mom who sweated it out every day her son was overseas, and spent sleepless nights praying for his safety.

But, my son knows where he is going when he dies.

Vaughn’s hope made me brave.

During the seven hour car ride home, his story stirred sweet memories of the last few moments with my dad as he passed from this life to the next.

My dad knew where he was going as he died.

Vaughn’s story brought me peace.

When I arrived back in Tampa, my heart still full with bittersweet emotion, I penned my first and favorite blog post, Another Homecoming—a tribute to my father, a World War 2 veteran, and all the brave men and women who defend our country.

I had never been interested in writing, blogging or stringing two sentences together for an email, but Aaron Vaughn’s hope gave breath to a gift.

Through one person’s testimony of faith in Jesus and life eternal, God enveloped millions of listeners with his grace,

including this one.

God does indeed work in mysterious ways…all of which I’m thankful.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NIV


for linkedin

Christy is a girly girl who chases tennis balls for recreation and at the end of the day does her best thinking in the tub.

She’s also a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and Life Purpose Coach. Her passion is to encourage women to move forward and press on, seeking God in the midst of life’s struggles.

You can find Christy at her blog, Joying in the Journey, on Twitter, and Facebook.

The Hope That Leaves You Hungry

isaiah 40-31

“What’d you do that for? Because you wanted him to lose?”

My husband recalled the conversation he had with the scout master just minutes earlier as we sat in the fellowship hall, waiting for our son’s turn to race his pinewood derby car. Those words were directed at my husband after he’d explained that we let our six-year-old do the majority of the work.

I was seething. I wanted to march over to the leader and give him a piece of my mind. However, as I watched the joy on my son’s face when his car raced down the track, my anger dissipated.

He saw what so many others in the audience didn’t: the joy in the journey. He followed the rules of the game, and put hard work into making his vehicle just the way he wanted. Now he was reaping the benefits of his dedication.

Win or lose, he was proud of what he’d accomplished. His excitement filled the room.

As we conversed with others at the race, we became aware that several placed their hope simply in winning. It was in the end result. And isn’t that the same pattern so many of us fall into?

We see that goal in our mind’s eye, and we put all of our hope and faith into achieving it.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing what I learned about hope over at Kelly Balarie and Friends. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

*Linking up with Susan B. Mead’s #DanceWithJesusLinkup and Barbie Swihart’s Weekend Brew. Come join us and be inspired.