The Widow Painting

…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

When you see this painting, what do you see?

A widow?

A busy mom?

A hard life with purpose?

Or, perhaps a silly woman who took on too much?

This painting hung in my home since the 1990’s when it was handed down to me from my uncle’s collection. It always seemed to bring me thoughts of my grandmother, or of life’s sometimes difficult journey.

Until I lost my husband.

Then suddenly I only saw a widow. That lonely woman among the tall trees burdened with that pile of sticks on her back. I saw her bent over, no longer upright and proud like she must have been in her marriage.

Funny how I never thought of the woman as a widow until I became one. And then the painting became “the widow painting” in my mind. I found it more beautiful than ever because I identified with her quite more robustly than ever before.

It’s been years since I lost Tom, and I still find myself seeing “widow” in the painting. It’s like the illusionist sketch of the old lady and the young woman—once you see it one way, your brain wants to return to that image.

So I got curious. What if I asked four married women what they see in this painting? Their reactions helped me to begin seeing the woman without automatically thinking loss.

Reaction 1: The Beautiful Heart of a Mother

I LOVE this picture. What clever imagery it offers! God doesn’t want us to carry our burdens alone. She looks like a Russian woman going home through the beautiful birch woods after gathering the fuel needed to make her home warm and fix the meals to provide for her family. God never promised it would be easy, but He does promise to share the load and walk beside us!

Reaction 2: The Overly Busy Mother

She’s alone. I think of all the times women are faced with so much to do—kids, carpools, teenagers gone prodigal, bills that can’t get paid, stressful jobs, husbands we love but let us down. Where are the other women in the picture? Why aren’t they stepping in to help her? Did she push them away? Did they never help? Funny thing, I don’t imagine men coming in to help her, but sisters.

Reaction 3: The Hard Life is Worth it

Oh, that is so me!!! I work grueling hours, and I’m tired all the time! After putting everything into raising kids, we have no retirement savings and even share one car! This painting reminds me­ we aren’t promised ease, but we are promised joy. I wouldn’t trade my life nor the decisions I’ve made when they honored God, for anything! Thank you, Jesus!

Reaction 4: Silly Woman Works too Hard!

I see the woman and wonder why she would take so much on by herself. I simply don’t do that. I remarried after being widowed, and maybe I just recognized I needed a partner in life. I was fortunate enough to meet a godly Christian guy who does well with me. But if I hadn’t married, I would make sure I didn’t take on more than I could. This woman is taking on too much.

Why are their responses of interest to us? Because I want readers here to remember there is a whole world beyond widowhood, and while grief is a journey we must fully experience, eventually we must see ourselves outside the lens of widowhood.

These women aren’t widows, but they have their own life challenges like job loss, marital tension, a grown child who has completely gone prodigal, waning health or physical exhaustion.

Can you begin to imagine that woman in the woods representing these burdens rather than widowhood? When I began to look around me at so many burdens that so many carry, my heart went out to others. I felt a community of fellow Christians carrying each other’s burdens. And that’s a community that grows us all stronger!

Lord God,

You ask us to see our lives through Your eyes, not through the lens of our own limitations. Help us walk this journey honorably, knowing that others walk equally difficult journeys. Encourage us to hold our heads up with our gazes upon Christ and no longer feel the shame of our widowhood.  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:

The Widow Card

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

Fake it Till You Make it–No!

 

Ministry Announcement

It’s with our pleasure that together, as the leadership of aNew Season Ministries, Inc., we make an exciting announcement.  

As of April 20, 2016, the ministry is now under the management and direction of A Widow’s Might, Inc. with Sheryl Pepple serving as President.  

The new corporate status will have no bearing on the upcoming conference experience, and the ministry will still have the same services that you have grown to know and love.

We are excited about serving you!  Please contact us if you have any questions!

God be with you!

 

Sheryl Pepple  and Kit Hinkle

Passing the Baton to Sheryl

So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him..

Numbers 27:18 (ESV)

Ladies, we’re making an exciting change to our ministry. I’ve told those on our team and those who have attended our conferences that I’m taking a plunge. No, it’s not marriage! It’s something I’ve prayed over for months!

Last spring, I asked our writing team to step up more so I could spend time with my boys. The team did great managing the ministry, giving me confidence that they have this! I’m so glad I took my time to listen while God spoke to my heart about the future strategy of this ministry. He convinced me that the team is ready to roll without me while I devote my full attention to my boys who only have a few years left before they graduate and leave home.

It’s how ministry works. God calls you to step up in leadership for a season, then raises up leaders who can step in when He tells you to return your focus to your family. Years ago Proverbs 31 Ministries gave me the responsibility for the future of A Widow’s Might. I asked the Lord to bring me leaders who could grow this.

He did! It’s expanding in many directions, including fundraising and setting up non-profit status. While all of these initiatives require a leader focused full-time on ministry, my four boys have unselfishly shared their mother with the ministry for long enough. So, I asked the Lord to bring me a new leader who can devote herself full time to this!

Ladies, this is what is cool. True leaders in ministry are chosen by God, not people. When Moses came to the end of his season, and a new leader was chosen, God—not Moses chose Joshua. So, as I spent months praying over whom to place in charge of the future of this ministry, it was God, not I who chose.

And He did! I feel great about letting Sheryl Pepple loose to expand this ministry’s reach while this home-school mom loves on her four boys.

Sheryl has decades of experience managing ministries. She will take the baton and dedicate full-time energies to grow aNew Season Ministries, Inc.

And Sheryl isn’t alone. She knows, as I do, being at the helm doesn’t mean she leads it all. The same team members you know and love will continue to run the operations under her care. I’ve never felt better about having this team of special ladies take over. They are ready!

Meanwhile, I’ll be around, and occasionally write. I’m stepping into an advisory role, so Sheryl can take the lead. She will do great. I love all of you and this amazing team of writers so much.

A prayer of blessing over Sheryl and this ministry…

Would you keep Sheryl and our entire team in your prayers? And as you pray, imagine every widow in America finding this website and in turn Christ.

It’s what we’re about.

Here are five areas that I ask specific prayer for. Please add yours, and perhaps comment and communicate to us to encourage Sheryl and the team that they are being lifted up.

For Sheryl’s Faith

Lord, I have seen a desire in Sheryl to follow only You. Would You please continue to strengthen her walk with You. Care for her family, and show Your direction in her life. Help her balance the needs of this ministry with the needs of those in her community and family who depend on her, and keep her desiring to obey You in all aspects of her life.

…keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’ (1King 2:3-4 ESV)

For Rest and Health

Lord, I know what leading this ministry will involve for Sheryl. There are a multitude of facets of the work she will have to take on, and a wonderful team of volunteers who are passionate and willing to serve. Please help these volunteers to continue to remind Sheryl as they have reminded me so many times, that they know she has a great deal on her plate and that she has a team who is behind her and willing to step up and allow her to accomplish more for You.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2 ESV)

For Time in the Word

Father God, from time to time, I have heard Sheryl come to me with a Word from You. I’m comforted in knowing that she spends time with You. Please protect that daily time and keep her meditating on Scripture so that our ministry is filled with the Truth of Christ revealed by Your Word.

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4 ESV)

For Provision

Holy Father, You take care of widows and orphans. When I founded this ministry on its own without an umbrella ministry, You spoke clearly to me and promised it would be cared for. You have never had our ministry go without resources. We have had volunteers and donations provided that carried us to a strong reach. We ask that You not only continue to provide and sustain us, but please add more resources to grow us. Help us deliver Your healing power to every widow across the nation and around the world. As Sheryl leads the team into non-profit status and develops a fund-raising plan, bless that plan, and bring the donors from everywhere to see the real healing that takes place when their gifts are multiplied.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:19 ESV)

For Unity and Fellowship of the Team

Lord, this one is so easy to pray with thanksgiving. Never in my life have I experienced a more selfless group of ladies, so willing to put the needs of the ministry and widows who are suffering through grief before their own needs. It’s that passion for serving that has kept the enemy at bay and allowed us to have grace with one another, even as we all know we stumble and fall short. God, continue to bring that unity into the new year with Sheryl at the helm. Please show her as You have shown me that these team members love You and each other and will always have grace and support for each other.

That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, (Col 2:2 ESV)

In Your precious Son’s name, Jesus, we pray.

Amen

When You Just Want to be Mad!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”

James 1:2 (ESV)

I chatted with a widow who will spend her first Christmas alone after losing her husband just five months ago.

This sweet sister wondered if those of us writing these posts ever get angry with God, or are we just filled with God’s euphoria all the time.

“Kit, I have seen many graces that He has given me, but I wouldn’t need those graces if He hadn’t chosen to allow this in the first place. His love for me is of no comfort to me right now because it seems … He gets to do whatever it is He wants with my life and I am still suppose to take comfort in His love. So I am guessing this means that I am in the anger phase of my grief journey!

“I know this anger will pass, but I sometimes get fed up with reading encouragement when I’m just not ready for it—not just yet. I just want to be mad!”

I suppose it can be easy to read our encouragement as an unnatural joy.  But in fact, each of us had and continue to have our moments when we too cry out in pain, in anger, in self pity..

Here are a few points from the article I wrote called Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?  In it I get real about how even though we encourage with joy, we too, on this team have our moments of grief, and I explain what James means when he describes our struggles as joy.

If you are angry right now and unwilling to accept your circumstances, take heart in knowing all of us have been where you are.  Know that these feelings will pass and that there is beauty all around you.

Father God, guide that sister out there who is struggling with where she is.  Lead her to peaceful waters on this road less traveled, and give her the confidence of knowing she is completely in Your hands.  Amen.

Find the article Kit refers to about the road less travel and finding joy in your grief here:  Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?

Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about anger?  Here are some articles you might try:

I am Mara by Sherry Rickard

New Paint by Bonnie Vickers

Dating a Widow

A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 7:39 (ESV)

Free to be married to whom she wishes.

But what’s it like for a man to date a widow?  Jack knows.  He came across our ministry and wrote me, because he is dating a widow and wanted to learn more about how to be sensitive to her grief.  Here’s what Jack wrote:

Kit,
I am currently dating someone who is a young widow. They were together for four and a half years and had a son together. My own insecurities and feeling like I would always be second best led me to your article about widows and marriage in heaven. I found it very helpful for me personally. I wanted to thank you for the post. It explained a lot to me. I find it comforting that all relationships are perfect in heaven regardless of who you are married to or divorced/ widowed from on earth. I think it will go a long way with helping me be the man I need to be for the woman I care so much about.
I hope I understood your post the way you intended.
Thank you,
Jack

It can be daunting for a man to date a woman who has lost her best friend. But hearing Christ answer questions about marriage in Heaven can be helpful to anyone wanting to take that step into the dating world.

Here are a few points from the article Jack is referring to titled Will We be Married in Heaven?.

  • Jesus tells us in Luke 20:34-38 that there will be no marriage in Heaven
  • Heaven’s grandeur will surpass anything we know of now–including marriage
  • Heaven is so perfect that we will not struggle with jealousy nor comparisons

Perhaps you are like me.  Grief at first consumed me, but as time wore on, a different pain overtook the grief–the longing for companionship in my life.  I knew I had the freedom to date.  But oh, it was hard to take that step and not look back. Especially since I knew the love I had lost was a good one.

The words Paul adds at the end of the verse above–“only in the Lord” comfort me.  They point me in the direction I need for confident dating. I am a believer in Christ, and if I choose to marry again, it will only be in the Lord.  It will only be with someone who has enough understanding to date and develop trust with a widow. The kind of wisdom that comes easily when the man believes like I do that there is a Savior, that in Heaven there is no marriage, and he and I are free to date without feeling like we are betraying the memory of the husband I lost.

When I meet a sweet man who simply doesn’t understand Who Christ is, I’m left reading very mixed signals from him about where he stands in relationship to God and me. Dating only “in the Lord”  helps me stay focused only on those men who will feel comfortable knowing I loved my husband, and I can love again.

Someone might be daunted by dating a widow, but if you yourself feel daunted, don’t!

Trust the Lord!

Have patience with yourself and with anyone you bring into your life.  They know what a part of your life your husband was.

Lord, would you help Jack be sensitive to his girlfriend’s grief and desire to move forward?  Please let the words from the article on Marriage in Heaven touch his heart and give him deep understanding of her grief so that he can be the man You want him to be for her.  Amen.

Find the article Kit refers to about marriage in Heaven here:   Will we be married in Heaven?

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about dating?  Here are some articles you might try:

The Seven Signs by Kit Hinkle

You don’t have to Forget to Reset by Kit Hinkle

 

How do I Manage as a Single Parent?

A really sweet reader wrote me last week about her struggle over single parenting.  She wrote, “My son wants the loving cuddling side of Mom but refuses to submit to requests to help around the house, get going in the morning or better manage his time. How do I manage this as a single parent?”

I thought back to how I felt when I was newly widowed, looking at four angelic faces of my boys and wondering how parenting them alone would go.  They were young and innocent enough, but ahead of me lay the preteen years, the teen years and all the craziness that goes with adolescence.  How would I do it without a husband to back me up?

It’s now been eight years, and all I can say is–wow!  God came through.  He’s been there, guiding me from the start.

I responded to this reader by sharing what I wrote about single parenting just one year after losing Tom.  I also encouraged her, as I encourage any mother who is newly widowed. I can tell you that every bit of what I wrote seven years ago still applies.  I hope this article blesses you as God’s wisdom behind it blessed me through the years!

Click here for the article: Child Whisperer

What’s your biggest loss imaginable?

Today, Elizabeth responds to a reader who is hurt over the losses of friendships beyond just her own spouse.  Come along and read her response at A Widows Might this morning.

Recently we had a lovely reader write us after reading one of our articles. She had such a transparent heart, we asked if we could share an excerpt from her letter and some of our response. You may find yourself in some of the thoughts she is sharing. We post this here as a reminder, you are not alone in your feelings! Do you have a question you would like to ask? Email us at admin@anewseason.net

***

Reading today’s message was  a step in healing! I know I have to let go. My hurt, disappointment, and anger at people and family who have let me down… It hurts so deeply, on top of your widowhood, to be excluded because they are uncomfortable! … But I need to have family and friends. I have already had my biggest loss imaginable! I am growing weary and more lonely. Widowhood is trying enough. Scripture speaks of God being my husband now but He doesn’t physically eat with me, sleep beside me, hold me in His arms, go out with me, give me physical hugs, talk to me verbally, fix broken stuff, take the car to the garage, take out the garbage! …  So when there is no one to love me, how does God help me? I just have to believe it. But it is so abstract! … I need to feel God in a solid, real way! It feels superficial. I thought God would show up concrete, in my friends to comfort me in the darkest night of my soul. I need God in a realistic way. I do lots of volunteering, and reach out to others hurting, go to a small group, counselling, and support group . But I feel like I’m chasing the wind.

***

Read Elizabeth’s response here on our site

A Reader Asks about In-laws

kitSometimes, on Kit’s Corner, I like to highlight a reader’s dialogue with us because what she has asked about is something many others wonder too.  This time we had a young woman write to us, asking this question:

Dear aNew Season,

It’s been weeks since I’ve been widowed, and I feel like his family doesn’t want me around. Not only do I feel like I lost him and our future, I feel like I lost them too. Have you ladies dealt with this before?

Sincerely,

Feeling So Lost

Dear Feeling So Lost

If we had a dollar for each time a widow has described heartache with her in-laws, we could easily cover the costs of this ministry for a year. Our writers have touched on it, but perhaps because we don’t like to describe our own loved ones and draw public attention to them, we might sometimes brush by the in-law relationships.

Your email brings it front-center and has me thinking through this in Kit’s Corner, bringing me to six points I wanted you to hear. I wrote about them in an article at A Widow’s Might today.

Come read it here!

I hope that gets the conversation started. Please comment ladies, and let me know what you’ve experienced. If we can tackle another burning issue for you, we would love to do so.

 

Kit Hinkle
Ministry Lead
aNew Season Ministries, Inc.

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Why the Parenting Tips

kitI took the boys swimming today.

It’s funny to say that now, because the youngest is thirteen and my oldest is home from college.  How different going to the neighborhood pool feels now.

But as I sat at the edge of the water and marveled at how these four grown boys (all but one taller than I) spent hours horsing around in the water together, I recognized one bit of wisdom my husband left with me.  Have fun with your kids.

It wasn’t easy doing that.  When Tom was alive, he was so good at spontaneity that I found myself playing bad cop nearly all the time.

But without him, I learned a balance.  Have fun, but get things done.  I want some of our newer readers to get in on the article I wrote years ago about tips for raising boys in a single parent household.

Come read it here!

Then tell me how you’ve learned to relax and have a little fun while raising your kids!

 

Kit Hinkle
Ministry Lead
aNew Season Ministries, Inc.

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July Camp Canceled in Favor of New Conferences

Dear Sisters in Christ,

With a full heart I’m writing to tell you that July’s retreat at the Lutheran Outdoor Christian Ministry in Oregon, Illinois has been cancelled. Contact us if you have questions about it.

We’ll be focusing our retreat energies on the kind of conferences and retreats we had over the past eighteen months in this ministry.

Each event brought with it changed lives, lifted hearts, and women responding to let us know they no longer feel alone in this journey we walk without our husbands.

If you have already paid, we have refunded those registration fees to you (if you don’t receive them let us know).

I will continue to hold you and yours in prayer and ask the same of you.

Peace and Blessings,

 

Kit