God’s Not Done With Me

Over the weekend, I wanted to shed my grieving widow persona and just be the Super Avon Lady.  Nothing else.  Not a care in the world.  Just doing something I love and not thinking of anything else.

But God is always thinking of me and finding ways to mold me into being a better Christian.

I was minding my own business, peddling my Avon wares at the local town fair.  There was another lady vendor in close proximity to me and a gentleman peddler. This lady vendor, how can I delicately put this – this lady vendor did not know how to shut up.  She talked to us incessantly about the same thing over and over.  By the end of the first day, I and the other gentleman vendor were fit to be tied.

I dreaded returning Sunday to have to face Lady Mouth Vendor.  Lo and behold, I wasn’t even in my booth when she scurried over to pick up where she left off Saturday.

God certainly has a sense of humor.  In this new life of mine, the one where I am walking deeper with God, He drops convictions on me at a whim.  I can’t say I heard a voice.  But I felt words pressed upon my heart.  Those words said, “Gretchen, this woman told you she is 61.  Look at her.  She is out here working her booth alone.  She might be lonely and just wants to hold a conversation.”  I was thinking, well if she wants to hold a conversation, why doesn’t she shut up long enough for someone else to participate?

I am sure you know that is not the attitude God wanted me to have.  So I said, “Okay God.  I hear you.  I will give this a try.”

So as Lady Mouth Vendor continued to talk, I looked her in the eye, nodding in agreement, and commenting here and there.  By my actions, I hoped I was conveying interest.  Then something happened. I was interested.  We began an easy banter that carried throughout the slow parts of the day.  Once I put my attitude in God’s hands, He guided me and the experience was exhilarating.

I was experiencing the situation through a servant’s heart.

This God thing really works!

Here I was, just trying to be Avon Lady Extraordinaire, when God was working on me when I wasn’t even expecting Him to show up.  After all, I was happy at the moment.  I wasn’t doom and gloom widow.  I wasn’t crying out to Him for help.  But He crept up on me like a Ninja and pounced.  God always shows up.

I hear you, God – servant’s heart – go through life with a servant’s heart, and my world will be a better place.  And I might just make someone’s world a better place, too.

In my earthly way of thinking, I think God is not done with me yet, His work is just beginning.  However, in heavenly terms, God has been working on my since before conception.  You know – that ‘I can count all the hairs on your head’ thing.  (Side note – can you put a few extra hairs on my head, God, please?  Aging seems to cause a thinning reaction.)  So I guess I am in a super blooming phase of God growth.

I have always been a believer.  Borrowing a term from a friend, I did not consider myself born again, I considered myself ‘born into.’  I was raised by a faith-based mother.  And for goodness sakes, I have an aunt who is a nun and my brother was a Franciscan Monk.  I never knew a life without Jesus.  We talked about Jesus, and I knew he was my savior because he died for my sins.

We went to church.  I listened to the sermon.  I went to a Christian grammar school.  But I was not a Bible-Page turner.

In my adult years, I read the Bible and attended Bible studies.  My faith was growing.  Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg.

It took my husband’s suicide for me to ‘live’ in the Bible.  These past 5 months I have truly felt and seen God’s hand in my life.  I am not only a Bible-Page turner, but I live in the Bible.  This has opened my heart for verses to find me exactly when I need them.

James 1:2-4 smacked me in the face this weekend.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Lady Mouth Vendor was my trial for the weekend.  I like to think I passed that trial.

I feel my old self is shedding and I am growing into my new skin – a better skin – a skin that wants to exemplify God to the world.

I am developing a servant’s heart.

I shared my conviction with the gentlemen vendor.  He looked at me like I grew another head.  Oh well, all I could do was show him I was truly making an effort to interact with Lady Mouth Vendor and not be aggravated by her.

The best I can do is live by example.

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

I witness this servant’s heart experience first-hand through my pastor son-in-law and my daughter.  Every Monday night, they open their home to a group of college students.  This is their personal ministry.  They break bread, worship and do fun activities.  My young grandchildren have a blast with this extended family, and they are learning, at a young age, to have a servant’s heart.  It’s truly a fun night in their household.  Even several international exchange students participated in the convivial pursuit of pumpkin carving.  This young family has the opportunity to bring the gospel to far-away places without ever leaving their home.

This beautiful couple experiences all the regular turmoil of a young family, but they always have the joy of the Lord carrying them through every step of life.  They act with humility while serving others.

I want to enrich college night in their household.  They manage to do all of this on a pastor’s salary alone, with three young children – 5 and under.  The Lord always provides their needs.  I ask the Lord to help me help them.  The best way for me to assist at this moment is financially and through prayer.

I am going to combine something I love doing with the need to have a servant’s heart.  I am going to use my Avon superpowers and tithe my Avon online earnings to their college ministry.

First world problems – we have so many online sights we can shop through.  I ask for you to take a look-see at my website.  A portion of the proceeds will be used towards Monday College Fun Day in the pastor’s household.

It’s not your grandmother’s Avon anymore!  You can peruse a catalog in your leisure, and have your favorite products delivered directly to your door.  If this is your first time shopping online with Avon, use code WELCOME10 for a 10% discount on any size order.  Enjoy free shipping with a $40+ order.  Check us out:


1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV)

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

We have a saying in Avon:  This is the company that puts mascara on lashes and food on tables, that fights wrinkles with one hand and Breast Cancer with the other. That knows the value of a perfect lip, but still opens its mouth and speaks out against Domestic Violence and for women’s financial independence. This is the company that not only brings beauty to doors but also opens them. The company that supports 6 million Representatives in over 100 countries. This is Avon.

I am going to use my Avon business to put food on the handmade table (lovingly built by my pastor son-in-law) for college night and to spread the gospel as far away as Africa from a cozy house in southern Mississippi.

And while you are at it, I don’t know her needs, but please say a little prayer for Lady Mouth Vendor.


What Happens When the Overwhelming Feeling of Grief Strikes

For almost 5 months I have been living in an angry world – my angry world – so angry at my husband for committing suicide – that I thought that was my world forever.  I don’t like angry world.

Recently, angry grief started moving over and allowing sadness grief to make an appearance.  I felt like I had multiple personalities, but angry grief was the dominant one.  Angry grief would allow other personalities of grief to briefly peek through.  But that potent emotion always, and most easily, regained control of any other feeling wanting to surface.

Angry grief is a real son of a gun.  Out of the blue, it fled my body, as if an exorcism had been performed.  In its place was a whirlwind of the deepest sorrow I have ever known.  My heart became so heavy it seemed to have dropped far into an abyss in my body that I never knew existed.  Something foreign bubbled up into my throat and began strangling me.  I was plunged into a sadness so deep that my entire world rocked.

The only way to compare this is the feeling when you are driving on the beach road, singing along to your favorite song on the radio.  The skies are blue, the water is serene, the sun roof is cracked open a bit – and BAM – out of nowhere, a hurricane strength wind blows in from the gulf, slamming into your vehicle. Not only do you swerve into another lane – you are thrown into an alternate dimension.  The skies are dark and stormy.  The air is so thick you cannot breathe.  You try to scream but nothing comes out, and the gravitational pull on your heart can actually drop you to your knees.  You fight to return to the normal dimension – the dimension when all was right with the world – but you are floating – no – you are spinning –and there is nothing to grab on to.

This pain was so intense, this is nothing a surgeon’s hand, or a physician’s drug, could fix.

I was beginning to think I liked angry world better.  At least angry grief insulated me, for a bit, from the shock I had to deal with on that dreadful day of May 29.  Angry grief insulated me for almost 5 months afterward and allowed me to put one foot in front of the other.  I was functioning, making decisions and living life.  This new pain of sorrow grief wanted me to curl into a ball and withdraw from functionality.

In reality, I was not on a beach road.  I was driving to work on a Monday morning when the heavy heart feeling hit.  I began to cry.  It would have been so much easier to turn around and go home.  But I had responsibilities at work, and onward I went.  I walked into the office wiping my eyes, trying to gather myself and present a rational being to the world. I was still spinning with nothing to grab onto, but I was trying, on my own, to return to the normal dimension of functioning Gretchen.

On my own – those are the keywords.  On my own.  You cannot handle grief on your own.  Don’t try it.  I did and it did not work.  As I was spinning in that alternate direction, I was trying to grab onto anything.  What happened was God grabbed on to me and said, “Come on child.  I am taking you on a journey.  You may not like it.  But you are not alone.  I am with you every step of the way.”

I walked into my cubicle and there was a little book, titled Think Happy, Be Happy, from my supervisor, along with a note stating I was not alone and my work crew was with me.  A high school friend (note – we have been out of school 40 years!) texted me throughout the day checking on me.  Another high school friend stopped me in the work hallway to offer words of support.  Co-workers rallied around me tightly that Monday.  Later in the week, a former co-worker mailed me a book titled Hugs – a Daily Devotional for Woman.  My former supervisor walked into my cubicle to give me a hug.  And, as always, family was near holding me up – my family and my husband’s family.  I had earth angels pulling my heart out of that abyss.

In this intense pain of sorrow, God is the surgeon’s hand and the physician’s drug.  In addition to His Word, God has surrounded me with a huge support system.  This support system actually extends around the world.  He must know that I am a real mess and I really need a group this big.

I know that throughout this grief journey, the hurricane strength wind and abyss heart sinking feeling will overtake me at times.  This is a journey I must take for complete healing.  This is my journey.  No one else walks in my shoes. We all have different journeys, but we all have a common path to take – and that is a journey with God.  Not only does God grip my hand, He cradles me when I cannot walk.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.  Psalm 62:5


(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back.  My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that.  My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights.  They break bread, play games and speak the gospel.  I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry.  Every little bit helps.  Would you please check out my website?  If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order.  Your products will be delivered directly to your door.  Some of the college students are foreign exchange students.  From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world.  Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)