Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Her Daddy is in Heaven and Her God is Still Sovereign

Thirty one months ago, I penned these words in my personal journal.

They are words that poured out directly from my heart and emerged straight from the deepest portion of my soul.

They are words reflecting real and raw emotions that were swirling within our family.

We could have never imagined the full length of the road we were just beginning to travel.  The sharp curves we would skid through tilted on two wheels and the steep cliffs we would plummet from.  If I could turn back in time and have this conversation over again with our daughter, I wouldn't change a word.  God used His Holy Spirit to speak through me.  These were His words, not my own.

Even in the pain, God is Sovereign.  When we choose to focus on the “Why’s” of this life’s unfairness, we are missing the big picture.

Thirty one months later.  Her eyes have witnessed medical horrors that no child should have to see.  Her heart has been shattered by a loss that no child should ever have to experience.

Her Daddy is with Jesus…and her God is still sovereign!

{an entry from Lori’s journal dated February 28, 2012}

“I have looked into the tear-filled, greenish/brown eyes of a little girl as she asks me “WHY?”. 

Why does her Daddy have to have cancer? 

Why does God allow horrible diseases to attack good people, people like her Daddy who loves the Lord?

I felt inadequate to answer all the questions, but muttering a quick “Lord, give me wisdom”, I took her hand and began to share with this little girl I love so much...

“God is a big God and He can handle our questions and frustrations.  Maybe we should reconsider the question of “why”; after all, why not us and why not daddy?  What makes us so wonderful and entitled to be exempt from illness or struggles on this earth?  Remember, this earth is not our permanent home!  
(2 Corinthians 5:1; Hebrews 13:14; John 18:36) 

So if we have to ask “why?”, maybe it should be in relation to 
“WHY US, LORD?”...
Why would You choose us to love so extravagantly that You would send Your only Son as atonement for our sins? 

“WHY US, LORD?”...
Why would You choose to lavish upon us Your mercies anew with each morning?

“WHY US, LORD?”...
Why would You choose us to pour out Your many blessings on, blessing too numerous to count? 

We are not worthy; plain and simple.  Yet through His grace, He gives the free gift of salvation by faith.  His blood has covered our sin and all we have to do is repent and accept.

Accept His salvation.
Accept His love.
Accept His grace.
Accept His mercy.
Accept that He is in control in ways our minds cannot fathom.
Accept that He loves Daddy more than we are capable of.
Accept that we serve a perfect God while we live in an imperfect world.

These were tough words of truth and I pray they penetrate her little 11 year old heart.

Thank You Father God, for giving me words when I cannot formulate them on my own, and for teaching me through the very words You give me to use as I teach my children.  You are so good to us.  Amen.”

People have asked how we have remained faithful to God throughout such tragedy.  The struggles we have faced in this life and the heartache we continue to experience in the aftermath of losing my husband; they are very real.  We continue moving forward with our eyes focused on God.  Our faith is not shaken.  (You can read more about our faith here.)  

Our God is Sovereign and His ways are true.  (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 18:30; Psalm 145:17)

We trust Him!   

Reflections of God's Faithfulness

I wrote these words over a year ago.  This was the Streller Family Support Page post on Facebook from August 26, 2013.  As I re-read it today...I can unashamedly say it still rings true.  Oh how faithful our God really is!!! 

Today, I sat across from the social worker who is helping guide us through hospice care, etc. and she asked me “THE QUESTION”…..

I am often asked how am I doing “this”. 

How am I so strong? 

How am I facing this situation with such bravery?

I answered from my heart, “It is simply God.” 

I am going to be honest with you; I don’t really “get” the question….. 

This season of my life has been tough. There have been and will be tears. There has been and will be confusion and frustration. There is a tremendous amount of weakness in me. 

But there has never been, nor will there ever be, any doubt that my God is faithful. MY GOD IS FAITHFUL! Like the Kerrie Roberts song “No Matter What” declares, He can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, I’ll trust Him. I guess that sums up my answer.

I TRUST my Savior. 

I know any strength that others think they are seeing in me is actually our God manifesting Himself and showing His mighty, sustaining power. For that, I am grateful. For His power is made perfect through my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). What you are seeing is His Word coming to life before our very eyes. It is His goodness shining from within me. 

By now, you know how much I love music, so let me borrow more lyrics. This time from Josh Wilson’s “Fall Apart”….
“Cause my whole world is caving in
But I feel You now more than I did then
How can I come to the end of me
And somehow still have all I need
God, I want to know You more
Maybe this is how it starts
I find You when I fall apart.” 

I have a relationship with the King of Kings and the Lamb of God. It is real. My love affair with my Savior began over 28 years ago. He is constant. He is the “giver of endurance and encouragement” (Romans 15:5). He promises the weary and burdened Lori that He will give me rest (Matthew 11:28). 

I was also able to expand on my answer to the social worker by adding that I have had the privilege of having a great marriage for 18+ years. This man lying in that hospital bed is AMAZING. His spiritual gift is service and he has served me and our family so beautifully. He has been more of a father to our children in these 12-14 years than many of my grown adult friends have ever experienced in their own parental relationships of 40 or more years. Of course, this situation stinks. I would never have chosen this as our story, we are far from perfect, but it has been a great marriage and we have a true love and a deep connection that will carry me through the rest of my days. I will miss this man with every single fiber of my being while I remain on this earth. 

But I choose to not dwell on that right now, because Tim isn’t gone yet! He is here and we are still living life together and loving each other selflessly. We are still studying God’s Word together and learning and growing in our relationships with Christ and with each other.

So, how am I doing “this”? 


“I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18


Monday, September 15, 2014


Walking through the airport I notice a jumbled mess of a passenger.  Her carry-ons are so overstuffed it’s nearly impossible for her to navigate the terminal.  She will never make it down the narrow aisle of an airplane!  Constantly turning around to manage her luggage, bumping into people along the way, she is seemingly oblivious to the rest of us.  It’s almost comical, and then I pause as God reveals this little nugget to my heart.

My own negative baggage is not only slowing me down on the journey He has for me, it’s also rolling over the toes of people who want to love on me and are rooting for me to have a successful future.

What if our invisible, internal baggage were suddenly visible?  The feelings of bitterness and anger, loneliness and frustration; all stuffed to overflowing in our bags.  Right there for the world to see.  Would we really look that much different than the airport passenger? 

Negativity can start out as something small.  It slips onto our backs like a comfy backpack, so light we hardly notice it.

A complaint here, just a “little gossip” there. 

An “I've been wronged” or a “that’s not fair” every once in a while. 

Then it invades our thoughts, playing over again and again in our minds until the negativity begins to swell.

The longer we haul these emotions around, the heavier they become.  Before long, the negativity multiplies upon itself, invading every aspect of our lives and the once unnoticed backpack becomes too bulky.  We find ourselves constantly bumping into others around us, rubbing people the wrong way.  Instead of releasing it, we foolishly find bigger carrying cases to stuff the load in.

But here’s the deal…adding more suitcases to our journey isn't going to allow us the freedom to run forward in this life.

Negativity can sabotage our relationships.  It can leave us defensive and bitter.    

We can become so focused on managing our suitcases of hurt feelings from the past that we miss out on making connections with new friends.  Even if people wanted to get close to us, they couldn’t.  We would smash right over their toes with our assorted luggage collection; oblivious all the while.  

Satan is the father of lies; his favorite button is “replay”.  How easily I can find myself on a continuous loop of negative thoughts and feelings.  Before I know it, my bitterness has morphed into something so large I can barely lift the handle on it anymore. 

Let’s not allow our suitcases full of old, negative thinking to weigh us down any longer!  Instead, let’s drop it all.  If we ask God to reveal the lies that float around in our mind and heart, He will.  God is a big God and He can handle the truth of our raw emotions.  He can handle them and He can heal them! 

He is just that good. 

But we've got to lay them down. 

He won’t force His ways on us.  

He won’t pry them out of our white-knuckled, tightly gripped hands. 

Oh but friend, He will carry the load when we surrender. 

Won’t you join me in the surrendering?  There is freedom in release!

“You carry your burdens heavy like gravity
Just let them go now, there’s freedom in release

You can’t run when you’re holding suitcases
It’s a new day, throw away your mistakes
And open up your heart, lay down your guard
You don’t have to be afraid

Just breathe your load can be lifted.”

Song Lyrics from “Suitcases” by Dara Maclean

Goal Accomplished

There are moments that I catch myself wondering about what Tim is doing in heaven.  Is he in nature like he so loved?  Who is he visiting with today?  Is he laughing that wonderful laugh of his?  Is he praying for the kids and me right now?

So many questions fill my mind. 

Thinking of him in heaven brings such joy to me.  My heart literally swells and catches with happiness, my lungs instinctively exhale, I get goose bumps on my arms and a smile on my face. 

I saw this beautiful fall photo on a friends FB page today and the question instantly popped into my head, “Who would I want to sit there with most for a short chat?”  First, unfiltered thought was Jesus.  Second thought was Tim. 

Hmmm would I rather sit with Jesus and hear how Tim is doing or sit with Tim and hear about Jesus?

And with that question, I knew for the first time that my heart is finally healing a tiny bit.  I would choose Jesus.  Don’t get me wrong, if I could have three chairs there that would be my preference.  But to sit with one or the other, I would want my Savior. 

I remember writing the blog post "Keeping Jesus First" on my first wedding anniversary without Tim.  It was two months to the day from his passing.  It can be found here:

And today, at the simple viewing of this beautiful photo, my heart realized that I have reached my goal of keeping Jesus first.  

Now, let’s not be unrealistic, we both know that it wasn't me that reached the goal, but God’s work within me that brought me to this point.  I am so very grateful to Him!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Wholly Surrendered

“Surrender your whole being to Him to be used for righteous purposes.” ~Romans 6:13

Standing in our bathroom, knowing that the end was closing in on us, I began to sob.  My husband wrapped his arms around me as my body shook and the tears flowed freely.  For two years I had been rock solid, knowing that Tim didn't need a sniveling, distraught wife to add to his list of burdens to bear.  Saving my tears for the middle of the night, when he was sleeping and the chemo was dripping, or for the shower.  Let me tell you, if those shower walls could talk, they would have some stories about my “ugly face” silent cry!  How I didn't drown, I’ll never know.  On this evening though, I couldn't hold it all together for




If I close my eyes, I can still feel the strength of his arms wrapping around me, along with the lump of his port where I would typically have rested my head on his chest, and the valve of his PEG tube that he wore loosely strapped around his neck.  Normally, I could have regained my composure, smiled up into his gorgeous blue eyes and assured him that the kids and I would be okay, but the combination of it all just swept me away in an emotional tidal wave.

“I know that I can do this,” I whispered.  “God is faithful.  He will continue to guide this family and I will raise our children in the same way we have planned.  I know that I can….but I don’t want to.”  Sobbing uncontrollably, I continued, “I don’t want to live this life without you.  This is supposed to be “our” life and I don’t want to do it alone.”

As I write this, I am six months on the other side of his passing and if I am going to be completely honest with you (which I am)…I still don’t want to be doing “this” without him.

“This” guiding of our children through adolescents, it’s tough without their Daddy.

“This” attending church and sitting through “couples” studies, it’s awkward.

“This” making decisions for our family as the only adult, it’s exhausting.

“This” doing of life without my best-friend, biggest fan, and lover by my side…it’s lonely.

The beauty of the struggle is that while it isn't easy and it isn't always fun, God is continuing to bless our little family with the ability to do life well.  I have surrendered my whole being to Him.  I trust Him to use my life for His righteous purposes (Romans 6:13).

Some things will get easier in time and some things may never “get easier”, but you know what?  I am learning to be content where I am.  I want to stay surrendered to God, tucked under the shelter of His wings (Psalm 91:4), and leaning heavily into His promises.

As widows, we know just how hard and messy this life can get.  Let's do "this" together ladies,

"this" leaning heavily into Jesus.

"this" wholly surrendering to Him.

And then, let's watch how He uses us for righteous purposes.

Thank you Lord that Your presence is enough.  It is where we find strength to take the next breath, peace to guide our grieving hearts, and encouragement to finish the tasks before us.  I want to live a life that honors You; I don’t have time to waste just going through the motions. I want to live with my whole being fully surrendered to You and used for righteous purposes.  Amen. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Still Look for Him

Last night a friend asked me “When did you know Tim wasn’t coming back?  When did you stop looking for him to walk through the door?”  It’s a fair question from a very close friend.  I told her about how in July while at my brother’s house, I was the last one to walk out the patio door one evening and I literally said out loud, “Oh wait, let me grab my phone in case Tim needs me.”  ?????  Pretty sure he doesn’t have his cell phone with him anymore.  L 

Then today.  Yes, TODAY.  I drove past a Ford truck.  Of course, it was a silver F150 Lariat.  I actually turned and looked for Tim as the driver.  Really?

That stupid truck that he just HAD to have even though he knew he was terminal.

That stupid truck I lost $5,000 on when I had to sell it so soon after his death.

That stupid truck that made him SOOOO HAPPY!

I found myself driving down the road with tears streaming and a huge grin on my face.  Oh how I love that man!  And his joy over that stupid truck, well it made every single penny of loss worth it.

So I guess the truth of the matter is I still haven’t really grasped that he isn't coming back.  I mean, in my head I know it; and even a little bit in my heart I realize it; but some part of me still looks for him.  He is still the love of my life (second only to Jesus). 

Tomorrow I have a devotional going live on A Widow’s Might website and their Facebook page.  It recounts a tender moment between Tim and I that still brings tears to my eyes.  Like, I can’t even read my own post for edits because I bawl through the whole thing.  It is raw and it is real.  It shows my utter weakness and Tim’s amazing strength.  I hope you will take the time to read it.  I pray it ministers to the souls of many facing their own ugly yuck in this life.