Friday, December 2, 2016

Grieving Through The Holidays

I thought I'd try something different this time by sharing a video—my first. I hope you find it encouraging if you are grieving the loss of a loved one, as my family is this Christmas.

God bless you all,
©Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Moving Forward Through Grief

Temporary grave marker
I stare at the email on my computer monitor, my finger resting on the mouse.

Do I click send?

Will approving the headstone for Lindsay’s grave mean she’s truly gone? Is that why it took eight proofs to get it just right? Perfect…and yet oh, so final.

All I know is fresh, hot tears flow down my cheeks once again, as I grieve for Lindsay, for what was lost, for what might have been—her dreams and yes, my dreams for her.

There’s something really wrong about having to bury your child. Sounds cliché, but there’s really no other way to express it.

Trying to make sense of an unexpected and tragic death from a human perspective doesn’t work. As my husband and my mom said, Lindsay’s death is senseless. At least to us.

So we choose to trust the One who it does make sense to. God has the master plan, and our faith tells us that He works all to our good (Romans 8:28), even something meant for evil. God has been faithful to us in so many ways throughout our life. He wouldn’t stop now.

Even when life doesn’t work out the way we want…Even when living without our loved one hurts to the marrow of our bones…Even when we don’t understand the hurtful path we now find ourselves on.

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 receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

And maybe therein lies at least part of the answer. We’re never given trials for us alone. There is a greater purpose. Something outside ourselves. Perhaps for others to gain some comfort from us as they grieve their own loss.

I click send, and the proof is forwarded to the marker company. Sometime before Christmas, the headstone will arrive, and James, Josh, and I will make the trek to the cemetery to see it laid at the head of Lindsay’s grave. No doubt, more tears will flow that day.

Meanwhile, we move forward—in time, in life, in circumstance. Though we’ve always known life is precious and often short, Lindsay’s death altered our lives irreparably. So we look above for comfort and cling to the knowledge that one day we’ll see Lindsay and other loved ones again who’ve passed. And we cherish our memories of the beautiful person she was. 

There’s still much to accomplish in this life, or God would’ve already taken me, yet I long for the day when my Savior returns, and there’ll be no more suffering and no more tears (Revelation 21:4). 

Come, Lord Jesus, come…

What’s your go-to verse for comfort in times of grief? Have you ever had a chance to help someone from a trial you’ve been through?

If you’d like me to pray for you and your family, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests.

Looking above,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Her Journal Will Never Be Read

After experiencing several deaths in my life and watching friends lose loved ones, I noticed a common theme among mourners—the regret that there wasn’t more time to say or do one last thing with the deceased. As I grew older, I became more purposeful in my living, stopping to hug my kids good-bye or telling them I loved them, even when they were in a hurry or thought I was being melodramatic.

In fact, that was the case the last time I saw my daughter Lindsay alive—the morning I left for Nashville. She rushed through the house to leave so she wouldn’t be late for work. I yelled after her, “No, you don’t. Come here.” She laughed as I gave her a hug, told her I loved her, and to be safe. She would be off to Kentucky before I returned from Nashville. She gave me the assurance I wanted and sprinted away, the kitchen door slamming behind her moments later.

About six years ago I decided to start two journals—one for Lindsay and one for my son Josh. My intention was to write in them periodically, recording personal thoughts, Bible verses, poetry, quotes, basically whatever struck my fancy that was meaningful to me and hopefully, would be to them. One day I’d be gone, and they’d want one last thing from me—a tangible reminder of my love, and I knew I could do that through my words.

Sadly, I didn’t write in the journals as much as I’d planned. Often, months would go by before I’d “find the time” to sit down and write. While in Florida last month to help my mom through cancer treatments, I made the time to reflect back over Josh and Lindsay’s childhoods and write in both journals.

Now Lindsay’s journal sits here, untouched, except by me, and she’ll never read the words I wrote to her. Her death changed the whole scheme of things. Our pastor used the phrase “death out of time” at her funeral. I wholeheartedly agree. There’s something really wrong about it.

The cliché that parents aren’t supposed to bury their children rings true. It’s certainly not something I ever imagined myself doing. Now I’m acutely aware of the club I belong to as I look at my friends and count the number who’ve also lost children. It is unnatural, but at the same time, God has a purpose for our suffering, even when we don’t know what it is or we rail against it.

Oh, how I long to know what that purpose is.

Meanwhile, as I trudge through this valley, becoming more worn and tattered by this earthly life, I can only put my hope and trust in God that one day all things will be made new and there will be no more suffering, no more tears (Revelation 21:4-5). I look forward to the reunion in heaven with my loved ones!

I echo the words of the Apostle John when he said in Revelation 22:20, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

Please come.

How many I pray for you today? Leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to join you in prayer. And while you’re at it, if you have a verse of encouragement, I could use it right about now.

Looking above,

 ©Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Four Words I Never Thought I’d Say

Every parent’s worst nightmare came true for my husband and me almost three weekends ago. As my tears flowed and sobs wracked my body, the agony spread to my mind as I tried to process the news…

…my daughter is dead.

It’s hard to see that in print—almost as hard as replaying it in my head constantly. Somehow typing that sentence and seeing it makes it more real. I wish it were as easy as backspacing for it not to be true.

One day, maybe I’ll be able to discuss the specifics of that weekend, but for now, I’m just trying to get through the day.

The word has not been invented for what my husband, my son, and I are feeling. Somebody smarter than I am will have to figure out what it is. For now, devastated and heartbroken come close.

An assortment of roses, lilies, wildflowers,
thistles, eucalyptus, vines, and other
plants that reflected Lindsay's
love of nature.
The blur of having Lindsay transported back to South Carolina, planning, and then having her funeral hasn’t quite figured out where to settle in my mind. Friends and family arrived, along with hugs, tears, and food. Beautiful memories were shared, and questions were asked that don’t have answers…for now. Maybe one day.

And right now, as difficult as it is to handle Lindsay’s passing, four equally powerful words prop me up each day.

My God is faithful.

He has wiped my tears. He has wrapped his arms around me. He holds my grieving heart in his hand.

My big “why” question hasn’t been answered, and maybe it won’t be this side of heaven.

Am I angry? Oh, that’s an easy one to answer. Yes!

But faith means trusting God, even when He allows tragedy in my life. It was a lesson learned when my sister committed suicide eleven years ago and still rings true today. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know my motto has always been “trust Him to get it right” when walking through trials. This means in all circumstances—even the ones I don’t like or disagree with. I don’t begin to claim to understand Him (Romans 11:33-34), but I do feel His love and comfort as I walk through each mind-numbing moment.

My family and I cling to the promise of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Though Lindsay’s death doesn’t make sense now, we’re praying that one day some good will come from this tragedy. Meanwhile, we cling to the wonderful memories we have of her. She was a beautiful, bright child from day one, and her laughter still rings in my mind. 
Happier Days - Wedding Rehearsal Dinner 2011
Please continue to pray for James, Josh, and me as we walk through this dark valley. If you need prayer today, please share in the comments or email me confidential requests. I’d love to join you in prayer.

Standing on the Solid Rock,

©Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Borrowed Hope

Today, I have the honor of welcoming a guest, Dr. Michelle Bengtson, to share a few words about hope. 

“I don’t know if I can do this anymore. What if it never changes? What if things stay this bad forever?” She pulled her sweatshirt sleeve down over her hand and dabbed at the streak marks left on her cheeks from the cascade of tears that had been flowing for several minutes before she added, “What if I don’t have enough faith to get through this?”

I reached over, took her spare hand in mine, and held it quietly for just a moment before responding, “I know. I understand. I’ve been there before. Now that I’m on the other side, you can borrow some of my hope while yours is weak. We’ll get through this together.”

I could offer to share my hope with this dear one because my well was full. I could look back and see the faithfulness of God in my own valley of depression and despair years before. Yet I remember feeling the same way, asking the same questions.

I remember the attacks of the enemy causing me to question and doubt what I knew to be true, and wondering how I would ever make it not just another day, but sometimes another five minutes.

The Lord sent a friend across my path in His perfect way and in His perfect timing. I remember thinking, “I’ve believed all my life, but what if my faith isn’t enough to get me through this this time?”

God used this friend to speak life and truth into the dry and discouraged places of my heart. She reminded me of God’s promises:

  v  Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

  v  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).

  v  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

  v  “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

What I know is that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12). In my despair, I had lost my hope, and my emotional health had become sick, but as I began to see God’s plan for me, it was like He breathed fresh air into me. Yet in the valley of depression, we often feel like we are dying a very slow death.

Sometimes in the valley of our despair, we have to borrow on others’ faith and hope while He restores our own. That restoration comes when we identify the lies we have believed about ourselves and our situations and replace them with God’s truth.

In my despair, I began to believe that my situation would never change and that I was destined to remain in the valley forever. Once I identified that lie and replaced it with God’s truth, my hope was renewed. God promises, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Whenever I became frightened or unsure of my future, I recited that verse aloud, reminding myself of His promise, and restoring my hope.

Once my hope was restored, I was then able to comfort others with the comfort He had given me (2 Corinthians 1:4), and let them borrow my hope while theirs was lacking. And in time, they will be able to do the same for others.

Who can you lend hope to today?

Dr. Michelle Bengtson (PhD, Nova Southeastern University) has been a board certified neuropsychologist for over twenty years. She interned at the University of Oklahoma with “The Father of Neuropsychology,” Dr. Oscar “Oz” Parsons, and completed postdoctoral training at both the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, and the University of Alabama Health Sciences Center in Birmingham, Alabama.

Author and speaker, Dr. Michelle Bengtson is also a wife, mother and friend. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She lives in Dallas/Fort Worth with her husband, their two sons, and two dogs. Among her favorite things are beaches, boating, and sea salt caramel.

She blogs regularly on her own site: Her book “Hope Prevails: Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression” (Revell publishers, August 16, 2016) is available for purchase now:

For more hope, stay connected with her at:
Twitter: (@DrMBengtson)
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
  • An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
  • As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
  • Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
As a board-certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson has seen the devastation that people experience when depression sweeps into their lives. She knew what research advocated in terms of the most effective treatments and prescribed them to her clients. But when she personally experienced to the ravages of depression, she found that the treatments she had been using with her patients didn’t help her. As a result, her personal experience became the catalyst for a more holistic approach to treating depression in others.

In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.

For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.

“Catching Hope Word” image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Persevere—You’ll like what comes next

Persevering in the midst of a trial is difficult. Giving up is appealing, but realistically, is surrender an option? If not…

How do we persevere?

First, we admit our humanity and our inability to go it alone.

In the Bible, we see Moses, Job, King David, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul, to name a few, caught between the proverbial rock and hard place—with the hard place usually being death.

Job said, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:9-10). We then see his humanity in the next chapter when he sits down and laments his own birth (Job 3). 

Jesus said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He prayed twice for God to take the cup of crucifixion from him but ultimately yielded “may your will be done” (Matthew 26:38-42).  

The Apostle Paul “pleaded” three times for his thorn to be removed (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). 

We see each of these men in a state of human despair, yet they didn’t rely on humanity to save them, because, frankly, it wasn’t equal to the task. So what was their secret to persevering?

If you read further into the book of Job, the Gospels, and the letters written by the Apostle Paul, you’ll see that when these men cried out, it was to God.

As Christians, we know our perseverance comes from God. He said His grace is sufficient for all things. He’s not going to allow a trial into our lives that He's unwilling to equip us for. We must "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and delve into the Word and see God's promises and instructions laid out for us through His apostles.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Jude 1:17-21 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 

That sounds like a pretty good formula for persevering. If we keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, we won’t grow spiritually faint and lose heart. We’ll also be able to throw off that which tries to hinder us—namely Satan.

But what’s the purpose of a trial? Why doesn’t God just fix things? In other words…

Why do we persevere?

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4 

…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:3-4 

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 2 Peter 1:5-7 

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:15-16 

In addition to the spiritual growth we experience, our ultimate reward will be in heaven.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promisedHebrews 10:35-36 

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 

Are you walking through a trial and having trouble persevering? Be encouraged by God’s Word that He keeps His promises, He walks with you through difficult times, and your faith will grow. In turn, you'll often find yourself in a position to encourage someone on the path behind you going through a similar trial.

Best of all, you’ll stand before God one day and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21),  

Do you have a Bible verse that has encouraged you during difficult times?

If you need prayer, please leave a comment or email me confidential requests. I’d love to pray for you.

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

“Woman Climbing Rock” image courtesy of olovedog at
“Young Woman Praying” image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
“Faith and Believe” image courtesy of the pathtraveler

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wringing Our Hands Isn’t An Option

Feeling despair is easy with current world events. If you live long enough, you realize the world seems to go from one catastrophe to another. And certainly, our nation hasn’t seen this much inner turmoil since the 1960s and 70s.

Where do we find relief?

The key is not to give into despair. Wringing our hands isn't an option for Christians. Our role is to lead when it comes to bringing peace, hope, and optimism to those around us.

How is this possible when it feels like the world is crashing around us?

Because our lives are not rooted in external circumstances.

We are not of this world. We are to be peacemakers—not of worldly peace but inner peace (Matthew 5:9). This begins with resting in God’s assurances.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. Isaiah 41:10 NLT 

“For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 NLT 

If our minds and hearts aren’t focused on the promises in God’s word through Bible study and prayer, Satan will work to render us impotent in our Christian walk by sidetracking us with worry and anxiety.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT 

Jesus warned of hard times in Matthew 24. He specifically warned Christians that we would suffer because of him. But we don’t have to get dragged into the propaganda wars that engulf social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Christians can and should mediate to diffuse divisiveness and show compassion. Stand up for the oppressed and weak. Champion what is right. In doing so, never lose sight of bringing the hope found in Christ Jesus through salvation, the peace that envelopes the believer, and our spirit of optimism that radiates outward to others.

Hope that is found in Jesus’ words:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matthew 24:12-13 NIV 

Isn’t this a great promise to hold onto in the midst of worldly turmoil? If we stand firm, we will be saved.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 NIV 

We all have a story to tell!

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
~Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915

Revere Christ. Be prepared with an answer for the reason of your hope. Be encouraged that angels are around us with echoes of mercy and whispers of love. We are born of His spirit and washed in His blood!

Share that encouragement with those around you. Bless others with your story of hope, peace, and optimism rooted in Christ Jesus.

What’s your favorite Bible verse that lifts you up when you’re tempted to despair?

If you need prayer, I’d love to pray for you. Please leave a comment or email me confidential requests.

Lost in His Love,

©Laura Hodges Poole

“Holding Hand Gesture” image courtesy of Ambro at
“Ray Blue Sky” image courtesy of pakorn at
“Bible” image courtesy of pazham at
“Silhouette of a Man” image courtesy of markusa at