Will We Choose Misery or Ministry?

No one would willingly choose this widow path we have been assigned to walk. It is a painful, definitive part of our whole journey, no matter what the future holds. In an instant every choice we had about the direction of life with our husband was taken out of our grasp; however, we do still have at least one choice to make about the direction of our life going forward — whether we will respond to our circumstance by living a life of misery or ministry.

As a new widow, the pain is overwhelming. Understandably, we may not envision a time when we will have the ability to help others as we so badly need others to minister to our needs and those of our family members. In the early days it takes every bit of strength and focus just to process what goes on around us from minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day; but at some point  as the fog clears and healing begins, opportunities to serve people outside of our family will present themselves. At that time, we choose to either remain focused only on self and the misery of our loss or to begin focusing on others and how we can minister to them.

It has been like medicine to my soul to meditate on passages of Scripture that encourage me to focus on something beyond the pain of my own circumstance and to recognize opportunities to practice serving others. One such passage expresses the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

From this we can see at least eight things that can encourage us. We are

  1. to rejoice
  2. to let our reasonableness be known to everyone
  3. not to be anxious about anything
  4. to let our requests be known to God through prayer, with thanksgiving
  5. to know that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
  6. to think on the positive list of things given in this passage
  7. to practice what we learned in this passage
  8. and when we do practice these things, he says the God of peace will be with us.

It is natural and beneficial to grieve at our own pace; but it is detrimental to wallow in grief, both to us and to those around us. Just as with open wounds, we need to apply the medicine that will help us to heal, even though scars will remain. Wounds that remain open can fester, cause infection, and decay. Scars can be a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness to bring healing and purpose to our lives and can be instrumental in helping others to heal as well.

What will we choose? Misery or ministry?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21 (ESV)

Lord, please bring us all to a place of healing from the pain of loss, leaving only the scars that testify to Your mercy and goodness in carrying us through our trials. You have promised us Your peace that surpasses all understanding and You have promised to be with us when we practice what we have learned. Please help us choose ministry over misery so that we can be used to minister to other people for Your glory. Amen.


Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 

 

 

If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Articles with a similar theme: Breathing In HopeNew Paint

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This Isn’t What I Planned

WE HAD PLANS.

My husband Michael and I were going to have at least two children and possibly adopt a third. We were going to continue traveling the world, start a nonprofit, raise our children together, become grandparents, grow old and grey together. We were just 31 and had our entire lives ahead of us.

But what happens when our plans don’t align with the Lord’s plans or what He allows for our lives?

I have always known that being a Christian does not make me immune to the troubles of this world, but I never imagined that suicide would impact my life. I never imagined becoming a widow and sole parent at 31. It just wasn’t part of my plan.

But it happened.

And when it did, I begged and pleaded with God for another way for His will to be done until I surrendered to His will and not mine.

It can be difficult to understand when our hopes and dreams for this life don’t go along with what actually happens, bringing doubt and questions. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old son is questioning how his father is not part of the plan here on earth.

A few days ago we went by the home we shared to pick up mail – I sold the house last year before I remarried in September (that wasn’t a part of the plan either, but I am so thankful God led my husband Keith and me to each other. He is a miracle in my life!)

As we drove away my eyes began to fill with tears, and anxiety attempted to creep its way back in. My son noticed and asked, “Mommy, do you miss our house? Do you miss daddy? Why did daddy have to go to heaven before we moved? It was too soon.”

Those words, from my son, missing his daddy, are heartbreaking and a pain we will live with for a lifetime. But I’m going to share with you exactly what I shared with him.

“I do miss him very much. When we love someone and they are not here, it makes us sad. And, I don’t know the answer, buddy. When our lives don’t go as we plan and don’t look the way we always envisioned, all we can do is trust in the Lord and trust in His bigger purpose that we may not see. We have to be open to letting Him work in our lives,” I said. “I don’t understand why God allowed daddy to go to heaven so soon. I see how daddy’s life and our experience are impacting others for good, but I don’t really know the reason. We aren’t always called to understand but to trust in the Lord,” I tried to explain.

God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This was the verse written on a notecard that I found in my husband Michael’s truck. Little did I know, that notecard and this verse would help sustain me through my deepest side of grief.

I shared my heart and this verse with my son. Though I know he is so very young, I pray these words and thoughts build a foundation for his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as He grows and experiences his own grief journey.

Leaning on the Lord and not on my own understanding is how I am walking forward in this life and not just surviving but also finding joy again.

There is peace that cannot be explained when you know there is a God who sent His SON for each of us – that the Father is in control – and every single decision we make, though there is free will, doesn’t change the final outcome that He has planned.

Lord, I pray that even when we cannot understand the horrific things of this life, that you will bring us peace. Help us to walk forward with trust and without doubt, knowing you have a plan, you are with us, and you are in control. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible. 

 

 

 

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Pick Up Your Mat

Then Jesus said…, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

John 5:8 (NIV)

And just like that—one of my closest friends stepped out of my life.

I thought I would be the only widow to say that until I heard it from about a zillion other widows—many here on our pages.

The break happened years ago, and I can happily say she and I have reconciled and forgiven each other. Who knows if we’ll ever restore the trust we had before, but at least we’re able to laugh and share memories.

But those feelings of betrayal and abandonment–goodness, they hit me like a second grief.  I stopped everything and cried my eyes out while she went on with her happy life, surrounded by her entourage of friends I no longer had time to hang with.  While she held her girls-night-outings without me, I was busy raising my boys by myself. At the time I didn’t know why it bothered me—it wasn’t like I had time to socialize anyway.

On the other hand, I now know why it bothered me–old scars from high school.  I was one of those independent types who wondered why I seemed to avoid the deemed “in-crowd” while my sister pranced about in her cheerleading outfit–near the center of attention from that same crowd. I would have been fine with my own nature, academics, if it weren’t for subtle comparisons made between us by well-meaning folks. It takes time and maturity to see standing apart from the crowd as a good thing. Seeing it now doesn’t erase the memory of that feeling I had as a girl wondering why I simply didn’t run with the popular crowd like my sister did.

That feeling got triggered many times during those early days as a single mom. Without a social life and without a husband to boost my confidence, I would sit and mutter over my queen-bee friend’s abandonment.  How dare she?  Why do I care? Why can’t I be the queen-bee? Why does being the lonely widow feel like the one who chose not to hang with the cheerleaders?

When you’ve been kicked in the shins and you’re down and lonely, you start to think and reflect.  Sometimes Satan has a heyday with that thinking and you come up with some ridiculous notion that you’ll always be stuck with whatever hardship life threw at you as a child.

I was taking those feelings of the academic kid not hanging with the popular crowd and applying it to the single mom not running about with my queen-bee’s friends crowd.

This is called victim mentality, and the enemy loves digging this knife in you.  You’ll twist about, taking that pattern of whatever seems to have happened yet again and applying it to every example in your life you can think about.

Unless you pick up your mat and walk.

When Jesus heeled a paralyzed man, he didn’t dwell on why he was paralyzed.  He didn’t have the man lay on the mat for a while and reflect on how much it hurt.  He commanded the man to pick up the mat and walk.

And that’s exactly how I was able to forgive and redeem at least a light friendship with my queen-bee friend. I stopped laying on my “mat” of abandonment and sorrow. My friend did something unkind, but I didn’t need to be unkind back. I could even forgive.  And I could get up and start anew.  Once I freed myself from any bitterness, I could even relax and enjoy her.  I choose not to engage too much with her because I’ve learned where her limits are. And besides, since then I’ve made many new friends who are far more faithful and trustworthy.

Be healed. Walk healed. Christ calls us to be redeemed.  To be born again. To begin anew.

Staring at your mat only holds you back.

Abba Father,

All it takes is a word from You, and the widow reading this can be healed.  Point her forward, not backwards.  Show her what You have in store for her, and give her the healing and strength to pick up her mat and walk.  Amen


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Into the Great Unknown   Finding Your Pearl   Blended and Bonded

Shovels

Please join us today for some encouraging words from our dear sister, Liz.


Keep Shoveling by Liz Wright

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. – Isaiah 40:29 ESV

It had been three weeks since my husband’s passing.

Our church was having a workday. Keith would have gone. He would have worked with the men, told jokes, and talked about life. Wanting my boys to be in relationship with these same godly men, we packed up the car and headed to church.

We were quiet on the way there, still a bit in shock from the events of the past month.  I was holding it together, but barely.

Then I heard a voice pipe up from the backseat…my two and a half year old, Jackson.

Will some of the men hug me?

My vision blurred.  This is the child who was Daddy’s shadow…and right now he was hurting.

They probably will, buddy.

At church, I explained the situation to one of the sweetest guys I have ever known…our worship leader, TJ. He invited Jackson to help him shovel gravel.

Jackson was so little that he could not really manage the shovel, much less a shovelful.  TJ had to have his hand on each load, carrying much of the weight, guiding it into the correct place.  A job that would have been fairly quick to do on his own, TJ patiently endured. My little boy had male bonding time, and felt the joy of doing man’s work.

Jackson came to me a while later, big smile on his face, telling me, “I helped Mr. TJ, Mom!  He needed me to shovel the rocks!”

Wow.  What a gift!  When I had asked TJ to help, I had not imagined the way he would lavish his love on my son.  My vision had been limited to a simple hug.  TJ took it far beyond that, building a little piece of character into my sweet boy’s soul.

What a metaphor for how God has held me during this entire widow journey!

I am often told what a great job I am doing running our family.  Nothing is farther from the truth! Just like Jackson and the gravel, I am not strong enough to keep track of four growing boys, homeschooling, household tasks, etc., etc. — on my own.  But…I have a Father who keeps His hand on the plans I make, the steps I take…and He is strong enough to handle what I cannot…and takes us far beyond where my limited vision would take us.  Patiently, He guides me into being a better me – not just in spite of my circumstances, but because of them.

Sisters, this journey is hard…very, very hard.  But…God has each of us in the palm of His hand, holding the back of the shovel as we slog through the layers of grief, and the rebuilding of a new life.  Trust Him, Sisters. Take what He has to offer.  And keep shoveling!

Father, thank You for being exceedingly, abundantly more that I can ask or imagine.  Thank You for constantly having Your guiding hand on me.  Thank You for loving me through this time, and helping me to find strength and peace in You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


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How Long, Lord?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

A letter to God after years of single motherhood.

It’s been years, Lord.

My soul is tired.  

My arms and legs are tired.

My heart still yearns for what I lost.

I’m supposed to trust you, Lord.

And it’s not like I’ve never trusted You. When my kids were small, and I raised them alone, You took my hand, and led me through every turn.

But it’s been nine years of raising these children without Tom, Lord.

I try not to count, and when I pick up the count again, it means I’m tired, and  I fail to trust and I fail to understand.

I fail to understand why You guided me away from marrying for all these years when I so long for companionship.

I fail to understand why no simple financial solution has made up for the sacrifices I made to stay home and homeschool my children after Tom passed away.

I can thank You for my support network, the gifts and abilities You gave me, and the opportunities I’ve had to meet potential suitors.

But really, none of that fixes the hole that keeps reopening every time I think “nine years–how much longer, Lord?” 

And when that hole reopens, it’s like I’ve stepped out into the cold on purpose. And I just stand there, shivering with my lonely thoughts and my back towards You. 

But You’re still there.  Reaching out to me and handing me a coat.

And at times, I have to be honest, Lord, I simply won’t take it. I kid myself that I’d rather freeze than take help from You. 

I know what that’s about.

I’ve trusted you before, and You never fail me. It’s just that every time I choose to trust You, it means giving something up–actually giving everything up! Trusting You means letting all else go.

I remember a time four years ago when I almost stepped away from You.  The world told me I needed a husband. They told me You would bring me one. I thought I found one. The courtship was wonderful. I thought You had found a prince for me.

Until the engagement began, and suddenly I felt a frost come in. The one that was sweet and kind while we dated grew chilling as my children and I were presented with his stringent terms of a marriage in a joyless home.

You reached out with Your coat and told me to come on in. But trust You?  Give up my fiancé? The one that would provide a home and a new identity–away from widowhood? 

I was confused and scared–what would this unbelieving man do to the hearts and faith of my boys who were so focused on You?  I shivered at the thought. Shivered, but still stood there in the cold, considering a godless future over what You had to offer.

Why would I even consider it? Thank you, Father, for allowing that situation to get colder and bleaker, until I finally reached for whatever You had to offer!

I stepped out of the cold and into Your arms.

And it’s still hard. But it’s real. You are real.

And when I’m tired and my heart hurts because I’m still without a husband and my finances are strained, I think with gratitude that it was worth it because I chose to follow You and raise my children in You and serve the widows for You instead of following a wealthy man and serving myself.

But still I’m cold, meaning I’ve taken my focus off You again. 

Let’s be gut honest–I don’t always trust You, God.  Your Word says to, but there are times I grow so weary I forget to open Your Word. I’ll instead get caught up in reading Facebook or emails when I know where Your Truth is. It’s like I’m choosing to go back out in the cold.

What’s wrong with me? I know Your Word says to trust You, but do I reach for it? Like this morning as I write this, I’m spinning in circles trying to figure my own way out of my pain while Your Word  just sits there on the shelf.

And so I will end this prayer with this: I will stop spinning and grab hold of Your Word and trust.

It’s not like I feel like trusting You, but it isn’t always about me, is it, God?

Amen.

And as I ended this prayer, I opened His Word to Proverbs 3:5.Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

A new understanding is exactly what I need, I thought, just before the phone rang.

It was my grown stepdaughter. I told her about the chill in my heart. About my questions. Could I trust God? Why this long without a husband?

“Don’t you see?” She began, her words draping over my shoulder like God’s warm coat, bringing me in from the cold. “If you had married that wealthy, difficult man, you would never have gotten that ministry going. Those four boys would never be the kind hearts that they are today.  You would never have had the time or the heart to reunite my brother and me with our four little brothers, and you may never have had the time to show me how to walk with God. I love you.”

I love  you too, God.  Would you please put a coat on my widow sisters as well? Amen.

 


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Don’t Shop Hungry

9 Weeks; 3 Years, Forever

Solitude vs Loneliness

 

 

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