Brave (Enough)

Last fall, a friend told me she was writing a book and asked if she could tell a little of our story. I said yes. Then, she told me her vision for her book went even further. She was creating a companion DVD to accompany the book and wanted to have interviews of women’s stories for each chapter.

She wanted me to do that too. (It was starting to get a little more intimidating.) With a little self-conscious reluctance, I agreed.

Here we are 9 months later and Nicole’s hard work is a reality: Brave Enough was just released! Click this link to check it out (or better yet, buy it!).

Nicole Unice is on staff as a ministry director at Hope Church. She is incredibly energetic and passionate about helping people deepen in their relationship with God. A few months after my family had been at Hope, we met in her office because I was trying to figure out if there was anyone else like me in our church: a widowed, single mom.

She listened quietly as I stumbled through our story. She asked gentle questions along the way as only a seasoned counselor can do. I could tell she has heard many people’s hard stories. She steadily listened. I left her office feeling refreshed and encouraged.

She is the real deal: wise, insightful, and authentic. She helps you see your issues honestly and shows you where your issues and God’s word overlap.

And you can tell she believes that you can make progress with your issues.  Anger, anxiety, regret, insecurity, control, fear, bitterness. These are just a few of the realities we all encounter in life. Left to simmer and grow they can wreak havoc in our relationships, minds, bodies and souls.

Many times we feel like we just have to learn how to live with them.

God doesn’t want us to. Jesus said He came to bring us freedom in every area of our lives. He actually calls it abundant life! (not to be confused with abundant stuff or prosperity) His freedom is richer, deeper and eternal- it is abundant soul life.

Nicole truly believes him.

The only problem with Nicole is that there is only one of her. I wish every woman I know could sit down and have a heart to heart with her. I wish I could spend more time with her too.

But there is good news! Nicole has multiplied herself through her books: She’s Got Issues and this newest one, Brave Enough. Honestly, I tell women that reading those books is like meeting with Nicole personally. Read them both and I am confident you will feel hopeful.

There are lots of books out there that restate what many of us already know. Nicole’s books go to deeper places. They have helped me understand (some not so pretty realities) about myself while giving me hope that I can change with God’s loving help.

But you’re going to have to be brave to believe God is big enough for your life.  Me too.

When John died, being brave became my new daily life. It didn’t matter that I had struggled with fear for years or that I relied on John to be brave for me.

It was time to be breathe and live brave.

  • Brave enough to believe I can be who God has now called me to be in this new identity as a widow & single mom.
  • Brave enough to believe that I can do what God has called me to do no matter how hard, lonely or confusing.

And so, with no bravery of my own, just belief that God would be everything He promises, I set out on this unexpected journey. I haven’t been perfectly brave. Yet, He has made me brave in some of the hardest, scariest places.

He will do the same for you on your life’s journey.

Disappointing marriages. Concerns about your kids. Job frustrations. Money problems. Ailing bodies. Adjustments to new seasons in life. We need daily brave.

Jesus will meet you at the intersection of faith and fear with His love and courage. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

You don’t have to do it perfectly. He did that for you. You just have to “take heart” and be brave (enough).

Nicole, thanks for pointing the way and cheering us on!

With much love & belief that He will strengthen where my courage wanes, Maria

PS If you are looking for a small group study, Brave Enough has a small group bundle with dvd and books. Click here to find it on her site. It would be awesome to do with a group! I hope to be leading a study this fall too! 🙂

PPS If you comment on this blog or click the like button, you will be entered to win a free copy of Brave Enough! The drawing will be on this Wednesday, July 29 at 5:00 (our 26th wedding anniversary!). Free is always fun!

Help Along the Way

Hi there everybody-

I hope your to-do lists are getting shorter! I hope to post again before Christmas, but in case I miss you:  Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. No gift given and no gift received can ever top the gift we are celebrating: Jesus Christ! May your soul know its worth & rejoice!

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

I have made a new page called Grief Resources. I am pasting it below so you don’t even have to click to it now, but it will be a permanent part of my site. You’ll always see it in the blog’s banner. I have included the resources that have been most helpful to me- books, websites and Bible verses.  I have an entire bookshelf of books but only a few made this list. I hope someone finds something helpful.

warmly, Maria

Grief Needs Help:
My List of Best Resources

If you, or someone you love, is journeying with grief, here are the most comforting and encouraging resources I have found so far:

For anyone who has lost a close family member or friend:

  • Griefshare–  Their website is full of encouragement and resources.  To receive the free daily email, just go to their site and put in your email. My head was still on my pillow when I read their daily email each morning. It was always encouraging, hopeful and short. This organization also offers local support groups through the country. Click here.
  • Journeying through Grief by Kenneth Haugk.  This series of four books move with you through grief. They are a great way for churches to reach out to people as they go through the first year of loss.  Click here.
  • Streams in the Desert– A devotional book that has brought me the most encouragement in the hardest seasons of my life. Click here
  • Jesus Calling– A devotional book that I can’t do without. It is great for everyone, whether they have experienced loss or not. Click here.

Especially for widows: 

  • From One Widow to Another– by Miriam Neff.  This book is my go-to resource. It is practical and encouraging at a deep level. I can’t recommend it enough for widows of any age. To see this book on Amazon, click here.
  • Widow MightThe best and most comprehensive website I have found for widows. It covers practical issues and questions. It is also a good place for close family members, friends and even churches to learn how to encourage and reach out to widows. To go to this site, click here.
  • A Widow’s Might– A devotional website for Christian widows who are trying to trust God in the midst of loss. The team of writers all are widows and have combined their gifts to write devotionals and plan retreats. They will send you several devotionals via email each week to encourage you in your journey. They also inexpensively sell their devotionals in seasonal collections so that people who aren’t computer savvy can have them too. To go to this site, click here.   For the Love of HER Life: Winter Edition– this link takes you to their Amazon page where they sell the devotionals. Click here.
  • A New Season– This is a sister devotional website to A Widow’s Might for women who are finding their way after the initial season of grief has quieted.  There are frequent devotionals geared to women on a variety of topics, not limited to widows or grief. To go to this site, click here.
  • Modern Widow’s Club– This online community is all about inspiring widows to live full lives after loss.  They have a few local groups around the country but have a strong online group where widows encourage each other, ask practical questions, and vent about the realities of loss.  They have a $25 membership fee, which allows you to access their private facebook page. It has been encouraging to me to know that there are other widows who are grappling with many of the same challenges I am facing.  (To clarify: it isn’t a Christian group, which is occasionally evident in the topics or advice.) To go this site, click here.

Especially for children coping with loss:

Streams in the Desert for Kids– A kid’s version of the classic devotional. It is probably best for older kids-teens. It would be a great read-aloud at night.

Bible Passages About Grief I Visit Often:

Deuteronomy 33:27  The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Isaiah 26:3  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.

Psalm 27:13-14 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait on the Lord.

Psalm 34:18   The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 46:1   God is our refuge and strength; an ever-present help in times of trouble.

Psalm 119:28  My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

Psalm 94:18-19  When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.

Psalm 18:2  The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer; my God is my Rock in whom I take refuge.

Matthew 11:28-30  Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Romans 8:38-39  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Biggest and Best and 24/7 Help is God!

This is an excerpt from my Essentials page on this blog.  You can read more on that page about what it means to have a relationship with God.

If you don’t have a relationship with God, my encouragement is to be real about it.  God can handle your questions and accusations and doubts. He welcomes seekers. So, I challenge you to ask Him to show you that He is real. What do you have to lose? You have everything to gain.

Here’s a great book that might address some of your honest questions.  Start Here: Beginning a Relationship with Jesus (Dwight & Unice).

If you have a relationship with God, but it seems disconnected, don’t try to do faith alone.  God made us to be in His family! It is a real family. You have brothers and sisters in faith, and they are amazing people.

  • Find a church where the emphasis is on knowing God and loving others. Get to know the people there. Look for opportunities to meet with a small group of people.  (Email me if you are looking for a church but are having a hard time finding one. Maybe I can help.
  • Read the Bible (the books of Psalms and John are two great places to start). If you don’t have one, here’s a favorite that we have recommended over the years: The NIV Quest Study Bible. You might also be encouraged by the book I mentioned above.