Growing in Courage: A Conference Workshop

A few registration spots remain for our Dallas conference coming up at the end of this month.  We hope you can join us.  Please take a look on our retreat page and learn more now!

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”

                                                                                                                Psalms 31:24 ESV

I won last place.

Words, enthusiastically written to my grandmother, about the first school race I competed in at age eight.

Words, which ended up searing into my very soul, as my family jokingly shared that story – time and time again.

Somewhere deep in my spirit I began to buy into the lie – I will never be good enough. What better proof than my own family laughing at me for winning last place.

Fast-forward thirty-five years. An offhand comment from a friend brings the lie to the surface. The story of being mocked by my family tumbles out of my mouth as “proof” that I am not good enough. My friend looks at me with a puzzled look on her face and says “are you sure they weren’t admiring your optimism and perseverance? “

Suddenly, my “proof” disappears. The lie is brought to the surface, to be replaced with God’s truth.

Lies keep us in bondage. They make us fearful. Bringing the lies into the light of God’s truth, sets us free.  We become free to follow Christ wherever He leads, whatever our circumstances. We become free to be aligned with His will, for His purposes, which are perfect, pleasing, and acceptable.

What lies do you believe? Is it one of these?

I’m not good enough.

No one cares.

If only I had done things differently.

I can’t do this because my husband is gone.

I don’t have a purpose anymore.

Throughout my journey, these lies can sometimes creep into my thinking. When they do, I try to replace them with God’s truth. There is a lot at stake here. Not just for my well-being but also for the Kingdom of God. I have been created to be a part of the body of Christ; I have a purpose to fulfill. Christ died on the Cross so that my life could be a testimony of God’s grace. My life and my purpose did not end when my husband passed away.

Dictionary.com defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear.” There is no doubt we are facing one of the most difficult situations you can face on this earth, the loss of our loved one. We need courage to respond to the challenges we face each and every day. We need courage to survive. But God wants us to do more than survive; He wants us to be everything He intended. We will need to continue to grow in courage.

Register today to join us at the Widows Conference in Dallas, Feb.26-28th. Don’t miss the opportunity to find out more on how you can “Grow in Courage” and many other topics that will help you fulfill God’s purposes for your life.

Learn more and register by clicking right here.

register here

 

For more information, watch this video, and see you in February!

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Your Financial Future

Why is it hard to talk to a group of widows about their financial future?  Perhaps it’s because everyone has a different set of circumstances, and we don’t want to pry about anyone’s finances. But isn’t this one of the biggest worries for a widow? Whether you were left with a load of debt with no life insurance, or you’ve been put in charge of a large estate, the enormity of considering your financial future by yourself can worsen the stress of grieving. That’s why we’ve set aside some time before the conference for those of you who are wanting advice. Mark Thomas, a well respected financial advisor, will hold a preconference work session and be a sounding board for questions, ideas, and concerns. He will answer some of those tough questions that many of us have when we’re faced with fending for ourselves and planning for our future. While we can’t possibly give you a detailed financial road map taylored for you in the one hour workshop time, Mark can answer questions that plague us all.  Questions like:

  • Can I make it on my own financially?
  • Where do I start and how do I get organized?
  • How do I know when my house has gotten too expensive for me and I need to move?
  • How much do I have to earn on my money to make it?
  • Do I need to have a plan for my family in case something happens to me?
  • What are some do’s and don’ts to consider with my money?
  • How can I avoid getting taken advantage of financially?
  • Will inflation take away my nest egg?

We would love to have you join us this month, February 26-28 in Dallas to not only sit in on this session but to be loved on by other widows that have gone before you in this journey. For more information, click HERE! We are praying for each one of you in advance of seeing you face-to-face!   Learn more and register by clicking right here. register here   For more information, watch this video, and see you in February! confvid2

Friendships

“A friend loves at ALL times..”   Proverbs 17:17a (NIV)

“My friends’ rock.”

“I’ve got the greatest friends.”

“My friends fill me up.” “Meet my needs.” “Help me.”

Can you hear your old self saying one or more of these things before you became a widow?

Or maybe you’re blessed and still say these things now?

I’ve heard 75% of widows can lose up to 75% of their friends.

That’s staggering!  And sad!

Why?

Why do so many widows lose so many friends?

We love our friends, our friends love us. They cry with us, mourn with us, and support us and vice versa. We’ve done “life” together, with some, for many years.

In the beginning. It’s easy. Those first few weeks and months. Everyone rallies.  Everyone loves.  Everyone is there.

BUT.

That wanes.

Because, they go back to their life.  They go back to their normal.

And we are left.  Left to deal. Left to find new. Left, no longer a couple. Left searching. Left alone.  Left lonely.

The truth is our friends typically don’t know how to help us beyond a certain point.  They might not know what to say.  Some find it awkward.  They don’t know how to fit us in now.  They’re not even sure what we need.

Then, there’s some who might think they do and they tell us. In some of the harshest, most insensitive ways.

Really though, why would they have a clue? This has never happened to them!

And the truth is we don’t want to tell them, and when/if we try, they don’t “hear” or understand.  And many times we don’t even know what to tell them anyway.

Reality!

We aren’t a couple anymore, yet we live in a couple’s world. Some of us have been relinquished to the daytime outings, lunch dates, shopping, play dates (if you still have little ones).  Sometimes an invite out, when it’s actually dark, if their husband is away or busy.

Honestly, this is murky water, with no real right or wrong.  It’s just some of the reality of widowhood.

Some friends remain, others are lost.

So, how do we do this process with grace?  How do we honor God in the midst of this additional loss?

How do we, the offended, show Christ to those who abandon us or hurt us or fall short?

How do we learn and grow?  How do we even recognize our own shortcomings or sinfulness in our friendships?

Well, first we must remember that God is the ONLY ONE who will fill us up.  Make us whole.  HE is all we need.  No friend will meet every need or be our husband, our Christ, or our Holy Spirit.

But, I want friendships. I want to have a “life”, you’re thinking. I need the help, the support.

We all do!  And we certainly can find ways to cultivate a new life and maintain some friendships.

How?

Make the first move if a friend means that much to you.  Don’t wait for your friends to know or to ask. Be open, honest, and loving.  Accept and embrace the different ways you might maintain important friendships.

Or cultivate new friends by joining clubs or groups, reaching out to acquaintances who you’ve never thought to reach out to, volunteering, attending church functions, or even finding a new church.

Sherry and I have experienced so much of this on our widowhood journey.  Please join us in Dallas as we tackle this extremely important and yet tough topic.  We will learn and grow from God’s word on friendship and gain new insight and understanding from each other’s experiences.

Hope to see you in few weeks!

~ Erika

Learn more and register by clicking right here.

register here

 

For more information watch this video.

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We Conferenced

We heard about the conference on the website.  A lady at church told us about it.  We came across a video on Facebook that said a bunch of Christian widows were about to meet.

We wrestled with the idea of going. We jumped at it. We first said, no way–can’t afford it!

We started to read more about it. We pushed the thought from our minds.  We couldn’t shake it, the loneliness of trying to walk this widow’s journey as a Christian without other Christian widows who get it just drove us crazy.

We prayed about the cost. We thanked God we were blessed already. A church friend answered our prayer with a donation. We registered. We helped another widow who couldn’t afford to register.

We never hesitated from the start. We had been at one of aNew Season’s events before, and we knew how incredible it would be.conference worship

We packed our bags. We boarded airplanes. We made new friendships with ladies willing to carpool across state lines.  We showed up nervous. We burst onto the scene. We quietly prayed in our hotel rooms while waiting for the conference to start.

We walked into the ballroom. We lingered in the lobby. We stood as the worship started. We sat quietly and listened. We raised our hands in praise! We felt lifted. We felt free to cry.  We felt not-alone for the first time in a long time.conference journal

We stayed up all night sharing stories. We hit the hay early. We journaled and had quiet time.

We woke early to sunrise stretching with our certified fitness instructor. We gave up the exerciconference stretchse and had coffee and pastries with new friends. We slept in.

We learned about dating. We skipped the dating session because we have no desire to date. We joined a worksession on forgiveness and found out we weren’t the only ones trying to forgive our in-laws! We gathered in a quiet private meeting with a few other ladies who lost their husbands in similar circumstances. We found out someone else gets how we feel.  We learned about finances and living without that husband to handle repairs. We already knew how to handle the traditional man jobs, so we joined the ladies learning about early grief.conference fellowship

We had some laughs with women who were now our friends. We met the worship team and let them pray over us. We had our books signed by the writers. We found some cool fashionable tops from the ministry. We got a massage. We relaxed. We got energized. We allowed ourselves to breathe and cry.conference comfort

We cried when it was over. We laughed when it was done. We couldn’t wait to hug our kids again. We could wait to hug our kids again. We wanted to stay and hug our new friends some more!

We got home and got on Facebook to connect with these friends.  We got home and sat in our living rooms and took it all in. We went to our pastor and church friends to tell them, “finally–a group of widows who get me!”

We decided to do it again.

We are coming to Dallas– February 26, 27 and 28.  We hope you’ll join us. It’s pretty amazing!

Learn more and register by clicking right here.

register here

 

For more information, watch this video, and see you in February!

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Parenting thru grief

Grief stinks.

There’s no other way around it, sisters.

We’re all here, trudging down a road we didn’t ask for and didn’t plan.

And in the midst of the pain and loneliness and loss of a spouse, many of us are thrust into a whole other dimension of suffering:  watching our children deal with the unspeakable tragedy of losing a parent.

Many widows recount that their most difficult day was burying their husbands.  For me, that was unbelievably hard, but it was by no stretch of the imagination my worst day.

My worst day?

Coming from the hospital as a widow, tossing and turning for four hours, dressing myself, then driving to a friend’s home.  There, I had to tell my sons, ages eight and nine, their dad had died.  He was their world.  Funny, sweet, patient, hands-on.  Gone.  In the blink of an eye.

No parent should have to convey that news.  Ever.

Even now, over three and a half years since that awful, horrible, worst day, I can replay the imagery, the raw emotions, the reactions of my boys.  As long as I live, I will never forget that pain.  How it changed them.  How it changed me.  How it changed our family’s dynamic.  Forever.

So, how do you parent through this early, raw, jagged edge of grief?

You rely on God. Period.

It’s not easy.  Healing takes time and work and prayer and mercy and grace.

But your children can again find joy.

Next month, during our Dallas conference, Erika, my session teammate and mom of three, and I will share what is working for our families.  We’re not perfect, and we will always have bad days.

Grief changes children.  When our kids lost their daddies, much of their innocent, carefree childhoods died along with them.  We couldn’t change the circumstances.  So we decided to embrace them.

Come join us for the discussion.  We’d love to get your thoughts.  We can learn from each other.

Just because grief stinks doesn’t mean your child’s life has to.

~Nancy

Won’t you join us February in Dallas?  Please take a moment and register here.

register here

 

For more information, watch this video, and see you soon!

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Dating- Do I or Don’t I?

Are you excited about the upcoming Widow’s Conference in Dallas?  We are!  Each of our team members are busy praying over and for the conference.

One of the workshops offered in February will be “Dating God’s Way”.  This will be a very practical, fun time for those who participate in this session. We – Sherry and Erika – have been “dabbling” in the dating pool and are prepared to share war stories, as well as heart stories during our time together; but mostly we will be sharing God’s continuing story in our lives.

We will cover the practical tips – personal safety, fashion, who pays for what, etc.  We will also share the lessons we have learned about ourselves as we have navigated this aspect of our lives.  We will talk about how to know when you’re ready to dive in to the dating pool, or if you are being asked to sit on the side of the pool, or leave the pool area altogether, so to speak.  We will share funny stories of dates gone wrong and sweet stories of dates gone right.  We will cover when is it the right time to talk about marriage and how do you handle break ups?

This session won’t just be about our stories; rather we will use our stories to start a casual discussion together.  We want you to leave this session knowing God’s will for your life in this area and feeling content and at peace following that plan.  Whether you feel called to date or called to remain single; this session is for you.  Let’s share life together!

Won’t you join us February in Dallas?  Please take a moment and register here.

register here

We are looking forward to seeing you soon!

Love,

Sherry & Erika

For more information, watch this video, and see you in February!

carmens video

Trusting God: A Conversation and a Conference

By guest blogger, Angela Key

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation

Psalm 13:5 NIV

 

TRUST:  When I left for the conference that Friday morning I had to put all my trust into Jesus.  I am not a traveler, and I certainly did not want to travel by myself.  I had to trust family to take care of my beautiful daughter Emily, and I had to trust the airline industry to get me from point A to point B safely. I sat in the food court with my tea and talked to Jesus about my impending trip and prayed for all the other widows that were making their way to our final destination, Myrtle Beach.  Just when I wanted to bolt out of there and not trust, I was sent a gentle reminder of my mission and purpose of this trip.

As I sat at my gate, a couple caught my eye as they were looking for a place to sit.  The lady looked at me and I told her that they could sit by me and I moved over a seat for them.  She sat next to me, and her husband walked away.  Her body was facing away from me but she could look over her shoulder at me.  She started the conversation, and asked me if I was going anywhere fun.  I kind of chuckled and said, “Well, I am going to Myrtle Beach.”

She said, “Oh how fun! What are you doing there?”

So, at this second, my mind raced.  Do I tell her that I am going to a conference or a widow’s conference?  Do I bring down her excitement of a new adventure, or use this for God’s purpose.  I answered, “Well I am going to a widow’s conference. It’s our first big conference, I’m excited about attending, but not so much about leaving home.”

She whipped around and looked at me and said, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe this.”

She went on to tell me that her husband had just been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and that the prognosis wasn’t good.  She surprised him with a trip to Washington DC to see family, friends, and tour museums.  She went on to tell me that they hadn’t told very many people.  She started asking me about A Widow’s Might.  As I talked with her, my heart filled with despair for her because I know the path she is about to walk, but I also rejoiced knowing that God put me in that seat at that particular moment to help a lady just starting her journey.

As the couple prepared to board our plane, I leaned in and told her I would pray for them, and that I would not forget.  She started to tear up and thanked me.  She mentioned that perhaps she would see me on A Widow’s Might, Facebook page.

Through them, I knew I was following God’s call to go to the conference.  My trust in God and His timing was fortified. The conference was an incredible experience and my daughter did just fine with my family. I met so many amazing and courageous women.  I didn’t feel like I was alone on this journey. My heart and soul rejoiced, and I left the beach on the mountaintop!

As I flew into my home destination on Sunday night, the plane made a final turn before the landing, and I was in a front row seat for the most amazing sunset I have seen. The pinks, blues, and whites were so vibrant, my tears flowed.  I felt like God was blessing me for hearing His voice, following His voice, and for TRUSTING Him.

Lord, I pray that I will ALWAYS put my trust in you and your plans for me. I pray that all of my new sisters will also trust you and surrender to your will for our lives. I pray that the healing process for all of us continue.  I pray that we are not too proud to ask for help and to open our hearts to you.  I love each and every one of these new friends and I rejoice, Lord, that trusting you led me to so many new friendships.  In your Name and Glory, Amen!

For information on our upcoming conference, please visit our conferences and retreats page.

Don’t Walk This Journey Alone!

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

“Why do I have to be so alone?” she cried out over the phone after realizing that yet again, she was left off of an invite list.

I know this widow’s heart for laughter and fun.  And yet I also know how awkward her friendships and social life have been since being widowed.

Have you been in this place?  Feeling like your married friends don’t get you? I can tell you that nearly every widow I’ve ministered to has experienced this.  Whether it’s a neighborhood couples get together or just going out on the town with other couples it’s frustrating when you have to stand alone! At least for me, I miss having a companion to go to for encouragement when life gets lonely.

But remember the conversation at the top of this page?  Guess what?  That widow has me, and a network of many other widows, who understand that feeling of not having a husband by her side.

Others try to understand and help and encourage, but at some point they can’t relate to not having that support physically right next to them.

And thank God they don’t really get it. Because in order to be able to get it, they would have to experience the pain and loss that we’ve experienced.  I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!

So do you have your network of godly widowed women around you?  Not just a network of widows or a network of Godly friends—watch the double adjective:  Godly and widowed!  I have lots of friends who have faith. They make wonderful friendships, and I’m thankful every day for them.  And I have lots of connections with widows–everywhere.  But when I spend any significant time with a widow who doesn’t walk in faith, I find out quickly that they don’t have solid answers.

But the godly widowed friends–wow they get it.  And they lift me and give me suggestions when I’m struggling doing life without a husband.

You CAN build a network of like-minded ladies who get you.

I think of four ladies from Paducah, Kentucky who made a road trip to our last conference in early November.

200412179-001I picture them piled into one car and headed down the highway, passing through several states.  All, so that they could be filled with encouragement through Christ and meet other like-minded Christian women on this same walk of life with them.

They loved their road trip time, the laughs, the deepening of friendship bonds!  They arrived and met our writer and speaker team, and laughed and told us their stories from the road. Then they met the other conference participants, and started friendships that will last forever. In fact their emails and facebook chats and blog comments  between these ladies and the ones they’ve met continue–more laughter, prayer, and encouragement. So much so, that these four from Paducah have already spoken to their church leaders and are planning to welcome the aNew Season writer/speaker team to their church in 2016.

There were times during that conference that someone needed comforting.

And that’s when it happened– suddenly the new friendship filled in a hole– because it’s a friendship based on really getting it– this walk that only widows take.  And armed with knowing each other and knowing God, they both tackle issues they never thought they’d be able to tackle.

We hope you come join us at the conference too!  You can learn more and register by clicking right here.

register here

And stop walking this journey alone!

Managing Early Grief

My husband Tim passed away on January 11, 2014, so I am on the cusp of completing my first year’s journey through the early grief of widowhood.  Man, this is tough stuff, isn’t it?  It is a peculiar mix of the ugliest of ugly, intermingled with sheer and utter beauty that comes only through the grace of God.

Grief is messy.

There is expected grief; grief that we can somehow anticipate.  Moments like holidays or anniversaries that we know will be difficult and we can brace ourselves for.  And then there are times when grief sweeps in unexpectedly and completely overwhelms us, huh?

Lori meet uskaren-christmas-2012Our upcoming conference in Dallas will include a session on Managing Early Grief.  Karen Emberlin and I will lead this class.

I won’t lie to you; we don’t have all the answers.  We are walking the same path as the rest of you and are leaning hard into Jesus with every step.  What we can do is give you practical steps to put in place that will help with both the expected and the unexpected grief.  You will learn habits which have worked for us personally and will help you navigate this minefield of early grief.  Our hope is not only for you to benefit from this session; but that you would store these ideas in your heart and mind to help someone else who joins this journey behind you.

I was in the unique position of knowing for a full year that I would soon become a widow.  My husband lost a two-year battle against his fourth cancer.  I won’t go into details, but we knew he was terminal and barring a huge miracle from God, he would die.

During this time, as we lived with the anticipation of death, someone made a comment to me that just stuck.  “Every day when you wake up, the hardest decision you will battle is whether to place your feet on the ground.  Do it.”

And so began my initial 358 days of widowhood.

I hope you will join us in Dallas this February 26th-28th.  The fellowship we encountered at our recent conference in Myrtle Beach was phenomenal.  Women entered that registration area timid and hesitant.  Those same women walked out of our final session with smiles, laughter, new friendships, and the love of Christ resting softly upon them.  It was beautiful.

I encourage you to learn more about the conference and/or register here. We really want to see you there!

register here

This widow walk can be isolating and lonely.  We are a team of writers and speakers who are walking this walk and know to the depths of our beings the pain associated with losing our husbands.  Gathering together and fellowshipping with others who “get” it…well, quite frankly, it is priceless.

Join Me in DALLAS!

Forgiveness…Is this the hardest part of walking the Christian journey?  I believe it certainly can be.  All of us have to do it more often than we would like.  Sometimes we want to hold others to a different standard than we hold ourselves.  We might convince ourselves that some people don’t “deserve” forgiveness.  We can actually think we don’t have to in certain situations.  Are we to forgive in those situations, too?  How is that even possible?

You’ve seen the quotes: Unforgiveness …

  • Is like drinking a poison and expecting the other person to die

  • shackles you to the person who hurt you

Is it natural to forgive someone else?  I do not think so.

It isn’t natural but it is necessary.

Sheryl and Elizabeth will be leading a seminar on forgiveness at our next national conference in February.  We would love to meet you and share our stories of healing with you.

We have a unique story, intertwined by the similarities in the ways our husbands passed away.  One had to forgive the deceased, one had to forgive the one responsible for the death.  One had to forgive the one she loved, one had to forgive a stranger.  But both had to come face to face with a choice – forgive or hold on to the hurt.  Both had to dive into Scripture to find the help she needed in her most desperate circumstances.

What does the Bible have to say about forgiveness?  What verses became most helpful to these widows?  What has drawn them together in their grief journey?  We will be discussing these questions and providing insights we have found in Scripture.

Please consider attending our Widow’s Conference at the end of February.  All the information you need is here.

register here

We have found the time together is worth so much more than the cost to attend.  The community you find with the other widows, the sessions on topics important to you, the mealtime conversations, and the healing through worship are beneficial to all widows, no matter how short or long you have been widowed.  This conference is for YOU.

All the speakers with aNew Season Ministries attending the Widow’s Conference cannot wait to meet you.  Over and over we hear from the attendees that they felt “normal” again while enjoying the conference.  Please check with your home churches to see if they want to sponsor you or another widow to attend this conference.  Many churches are looking for ways to help but aren’t aware of your need until you mention it.

 

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