Hello dear friends…
I want to start this blog by thank every individual who followed Craig’s and my story and encouraged me along the way. Thank you for every encouraging word, prayer said on my and/or Craig’s family’s behalf, and for every gift and letter thoughtfully sent to comfort me over the last few months. I will never be able to fully show my gratitude for what those actions did for my heart and spirit over the last year. The love you poured out has consumed and comforted me, and I only wish that I could gave back even just a fraction of what you did for me.
As you can imagine, this has been [for lack of better words] an utterly confusing and heartbreaking year. I’ve had to grow and change in ways I never thought I would, but that change has produced spiritual growth causing me to cling ever so tightly to our Heavenly Father. And if you happened to read the “about me” section on the home page, you’ll know that I decided to create this blog to publish the glimpses of spiritual knowledge I’ve absorbed during my moments with God in order to help others. To help everyone hurting from heartbreaking situations; and to encourage those who are desperately searching to find God’s unexplainable peace in the midst of their storm. And while I don’t [and won’t ever] have all the answers for you, I pray this blog can help you either (1) put your hope in Christ for the first time, or (2) decide to once again find your hope in Him, or (3) help you further establish the relationship you already have with Him. Because to be quite honest, the only way I’ve made it through the horrific event of searching for my late husband, Craig Strickland, to being able to lovingly write this post, is my relationship with Jesus Christ and the trust I have in God’s plan. Without having decisive faith, there would’ve been no way I could’ve made it without being a broken and angry individual.
I’m so thankful I never experienced that anger. You know, that kind of anger that causes you to block out God from your life, and write Him off as unloving – or at least unloving of you. That’s a burdensome place to be friend. So if that’s where you’re at, I pray you’ll take a moment to set your burden down for a moment and soften your heart to the possibility that God just might love you more than you ever realized. You can also find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in feeling that way – [maybe that doesn’t really help you, but me being an only child, it always helped me to know I wasn’t alone in whatever I was experiencing]. And I know this because, over the course of the last year, I’ve had people of all demographics and all stages of life asking me how I’ve gone through this trial without being angry at God. Well to answer that question, I’ll be totally transparent and tell you most people don’t really like my anticlimactic answer. But here it is: I believe with all my heart that God loves you and I tremendously, and EVERYTHING He does is only for our good…so for that reason alone, I could never be angry at Him for the momentary trials that I must face in this life. Instead, my faith in him allows my heart to “…rejoice in [my] sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put [me] to shame, because God’s love has been poured into [my] heart through the Holy Spirit who has been given to [me].” (Romans 5:3-5, ESV; verse slightly altered for individualization)
Now I know that sounds like a big gulp of cherry cough syrup with no sugar to help the medicine go down. Well like I said, I knew you weren’t going to like my unoriginal nugget of knowledge. But if we’re both being honest, understanding this concept is easy, it’s the choice to actively put this perspective into practice that gets us. Which brings me to the questions at the basis of all my writings: “How do we put this perspective into practice when times get tough, when the world tells us we should cry out to God in anger for what he’s done to us. How do we instead patiently listen to the voice telling us to be still and know that He is God? (Psalm 46:10)” — Those are some pretty big questions, huh? No one can ever say I like to set my goals as high as possible when it comes to spiritual awareness. But why not…I guess I’d rather go big than go home with no answers. So here it goes, my first feeble attempt at dropping some enlightenment on the dilemma at hand.
In my opinion, it all has to do with preparing our hearts and learning to shift our desires from our own selfish wants, to lining up with the desires God has for us. We already know this doesn’t start out easy; however, we can be encouraged by this fabulous news: If we will just make some kind of effort, God will meet us at our starting point and help carry us through – every. single. day. If we’ll just throw regard to the wind and present even a mustard seed of faith – He will do miraculous things. AND…It will get easier. I promise. That’s coming from a woman who, at 27, buried the husband she was “supposed” to have a full life with – Yes, I can honestly say, if will just try to trust – even just slightly – in God’s plan, then it does get easier; because He will faithfully walk beside us. Looking back over the course of the last year, I can see how much God’s hand has been with me. And I know that no matter what you’ve faced, if you stop for a moment and pay attention to the little things, you’ll be able to see how His hand has has been with you all along – showing His is love through simple blessings every day. Simple blessings such as: the beautiful sunset He painted for you on your drive home; or the coincidental bump in with a dear friend who acts SO happy to see you. Yes, you could say those are just daily occurrences… or maybe you could shift your outlook and see these moments might actually be little hugs from God saying, “I love you, and I’m thinking about you today.” At least that’s the way I’ve chosen to look at it…and so far, I’ve been much happier because of it.
So, in conclusion, I want to [slightly] establish how I plan to run this blog. My plan is to always be as real and open with you as possible, which in turn, I hope will allow you to be honest with yourself about where you are right now in the difficult situations you’re facing. As far as I’m concerned, we’re friends now; which means we’ll grow and struggle with our emotions and doubts together. And while I may not be able to know what’s going on with each of you individually, please know that I do TRULY care about what your going through – if for not other reason than because my empathetic heart wants everyone to find real joy in this life. A joy not through temporary pleasures, but rather through finding freedom in letting all your anger go and deciding to trust God’s plan. I want us both to decide right now to have a positive outlook when it seems too difficult to do so, and to take baby steps in our faith every day. It’s just like working out…it may be hard to get started, but once you do, you feel SO much better. I promise.
Now that we’ve kicked things off, I think it’s only right to write my next post starting at the beginning of a very public news story – the day country singer, Craig Strickland, went missing. In my next blog post, I will share in detail my thoughts and experiences from December 26th, 2015, to Craig’s memorial on January 12th, 2016. I believe it’s important to start at the point when many people encountered our tragic story, because it’s honestly what gave me the platform I have today. However, I also want to disclose that Craig’s and my story will not be the only story I plan to speak on. Overall, my primary focus for this site is to share any wisdom God blesses me with, and that I feel could be beneficial in helping my readers overcome their circumstances. Sound good? Yes, I thought so too.
I believe that’s all I have for you on this quiet Sunday afternoon. I hope that through my written words, you have been encouraged and your heart lightened. And if you feeling alone and swallowed up by your circumstances, think on this final quote: “Loneliness and solitude are two things not to get confused, because in my solitude I spend my time with You.”(Relient K, Therapy)
No, my friend, you are most definitely never alone.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I praise Your name and thank You with all my heart for all the blessings You continuously give us even when we sometimes don’t recognize them. Thank you for loving us and caring about each of our lives individually. I pray that You would give me the wisdom and specific words needed for each person who comes across this site. I pray that you would use this blog to help others, make a positive difference, but most importantly to allow Your will to be done. Thank you, Lord, for giving me the opportunity and courage to begin this project. For a while now I’ve allowed my insecurities to hold me back from being used by You through the sharing of my story and life experiences. Lord, I pray that both my friend reading this prayer and I would let go of any insecurities we’re holding onto that might hold us back from being used by you in wonderful ways. Help grow our faith so that no matter what happens in our lives, we will choose to love and trust in You. We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
Love in Christ,
Helen Elizabeth Wisner Strickland