A God Focused Perspective

God is my strong fortress and He makes my way perfect. 

                                                                                           2 Samuel 22:33 NLT

OVERWHELMED. I have a confession to make. I have felt overwhelmed more days than not since I lost my husband five years ago. This week I finally had a major breakthrough. Or so I thought.

Day after day I struggled with feeling overwhelmed:

  • Overwhelmed with grief from my husband’s death
  • Overwhelmed by the two years of court cases related to his death that followed
  • Overwhelmed in trying to do my job and manage a household by myself
  • Overwhelmed by a call into a new ministry
  • Overwhelmed by a move to a new city
  • Overwhelmed by my father’s death and handling his estate
  • Overwhelmed by caring for my grandchildren two days a week. 
  • Overwhelmed by household repairs, paying taxes, managing finances and finding the time needed to get things done

Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed. 

Despair was starting to sink in last week as more and more things piled up. Something had to change! I finally decided to try a new approach to handling my time. I am an avid technology user, chronically addicted to my electronic calendar and to do list for over thirty years. But my system didn’t seem to be working in this new season of life. I finally decided to add a new step in my process. I am now using a paper weekly calendar to prioritize and to schedule time to complete each task, carefully crossing them off when finished. Trust me I have read all the time management books –this is definitely not a revolutionary change. But to my surprise, I soon discovered it had an amazing impact on my week. Not only did I accomplish more things but also for the first time in five years, I felt the feelings of being overwhelmed begin to subside. I could breathe again. I could relax. There are still a daunting number of tasks ahead of me. Let’s face it – it is much harder to do life without a partner. But my whole attitude shifted as I recognized the progress I had made.

Oh how I love to take credit for my “great” ideas. Was it that simple? Had I finally figured out the system that would solve all of my problems? Fortunately I was reminded how quickly I fall for that lie every time. If I just had the “magic” pill or “miracle” system, everything would be all right. If I just worked harder or smarter, life would be easier. And then I get trapped into thinking “this” is finally the answer. What a limited perspective we have. But all along the way God was working on me and eventually I began to see with His eyes. You see this week isn’t when I finally figured it out. It wasn’t this week and it wasn’t me. God is the one who puts order in my steps and makes my way perfect. He is the one who has provided every blessing over the last five years that has helped me continue to move forward. It took Him to get me to where I am today. He is the One who deserves the praise and the glory. Not me. When I remember it’s Him not me, the feelings of being overwhelmed disappear completely – because He is God. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Great I Am, Our Redeemer, Our Savior, the Lord Almighty. He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is sovereign over everything. He is not, and never will be, overwhelmed. What a difference it makes to have a God-focused perspective


 

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandchildren. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.

If you are interested in having Sheryl or another team member speak please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Want to read another great articles by Sheryl? The Heartwarming Conclusion

Want to read other  articles about feeling overwhelmed? Coop Chaos by Liz Anne Wright

I Am Made New

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold , all things are become new.  

2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

It’s been five years and seven months since my husband, Bill, got promoted to Heaven.  When he let go of my hand and took the Savior’s hand and walked into Glory, I was a different person than I am now.

I was a planner and organizer then.  I planned everything and had a back-up plan for the plan.  I researched everything and made lists.  I was goal oriented – results based.  I was a rule follower; a goodie-two-shoes, if you will.  A loyal person who dug in when the going got tough.  I was bitter sometimes; judgmental, at times.

Then, as my life with Bill was snatched away, I felt at times I was left with nothing…no one…empty…alone…

As I wandered the beginning of this grief journey, I was adrift.  I was numb.  I was so empty and aimless.

I remembered how my Bill always got back up.  He always took the next step.  There might be a lot of time between steps, but he always took the next step.  He also always looked to the Savior.  I wanted to honor him and the brave life he lived and, in an effort to gain focus, I thought about what made him so special and that’s what came to me.  So, because I didn’t know what else to do, I just tried to live each day in an honoring way to Bill.  Step by step; minute by minute; moment by moment , I walked this path looking up at the Savior and thinking about how Bill would have reacted in my situation.

Then days turned into months and months turned into years and I continued this step by step, the looking up approach.  I started to breathe on my own.  I found myself laughing more.  I cut my hair.  I started buying new clothes.  I changed my makeup brand.  I started trying to do things that challenged me and pulled me from comfortable to uncomfortable.

I am not a singer…so, I signed up to sing a solo at church.   I (with the help of my friend, Eileen) pulled out a rock garden and put in a mulch bed with plantings.  I installed a four foot by fifteen foot backyard above-ground pool.  I put together an 8-drawer dresser, nightstand, desk, and two chairs for my daughter’s apartment.  I raked my front yard tree leaves (21 bags).  I scraped and painted a spot on the wall that was damaged.  I replaced a door knob.

All of these things are new things I’m doing and learning, and they are adding to me and changing me.  This “planner” was just a few days ago called spontaneous and impulsive. People say I’m “funny and must not have a care in the world”.

I share all of this to tell you that on this journey I have changed.  At first, I thought I was doing what Bill would do.  But, now, I see that it was Christ the whole time.  Refining me.  Loving me.  Still working on and in me.  Christ made this journey possible and needed me to take it in order to mold me into who I am today.

In Christ, I am a new creature.  The old has passed away and the new is here.  I’m enjoying getting to know the new person I am in Christ.

Dear Lord, I am so grateful for this journey.  I am so grateful for Your ability to mold me into a new creature.  Thank You!  


Sherry LookSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

If you liked this article, you might like:

 New Paint by Bonnie Vickers

Stuck

Please join us today as we share a post, our dear sister Leah wrote, about trusting God as He transitions us to new seasons.


Stuck in Last Season by Leah Stirewalt

I suddenly woke up! Sweating profusely! My heart was racing, and I could feel panic creeping in.
                         
Thankfully, I realized fairly quickly that it was just a dream or, rather, a nightmare.
 
What possibly could have caused such a frightening reaction first thing in the morning?
 
Stickers! 
 
Yes…you read that correctly! I had a nightmare about stickers.
 
Now, before you run off laughing hysterically about something so seemingly ridiculous, allow me to explain.
 
My husband and I just finished having a mammoth yard sale! This wasn’t just your average yard sale. We’re in the process of adopting and raising funds for that adoption through every means possible. In researching ideas, I came across the thought of having a yard/bake sale in which we invite others to donate their unwanted “treasures”. We spent over a month driving all over our region gathering items for the yard sale donated by family, friends, and even strangers.
 
Exactly one week, to the day, we pulled out the stickers and tags, and the pricing marathon began. We ended up with enough donations to fill a 10′ x 30′ storage unit, so you can only imagine how many late night hours were spent that final week simply placing stickers on things.

Throughout that last stretch, there were many times I thought we wouldn’t make it…we wouldn’t be ready…the sale would be a flop. But, I kept those thoughts to myself, because I didn’t want to discourage my husband, as he was working so hard alongside me as well.
 
God brought us to the day of the sale. The night before we only had about two hours of sleep. It took everything we had to load up the truck to move it to the location of the sale. We then had to be ready before dawn to set up tables, unload the truck, put out signs, etc. By God’s grace, we made it! The shoppers arrived. The clouds remained above us (keeping the temps down), and the rain never came during the hours of the sale. By the end of the day, the Lord had allowed us to raise just under $4000! Yes! A yard sale that raised $4000…hard for my finite mind to even imagine, but I was there and saw it happen right before my eyes. And, with that, the season of yard sale fundraising ended!
 
But, as it turned out, it was still in the forefront of my mind. It had become such a part of me for so many weeks that I found myself even dreaming about those silly stickers. While God had already moved me into the next season of our adoption journey, part of me still remained stuck in the old season. As a result, it began to unsettle me a bit.
 
I find that’s actually happened in other areas of my life too.
 
After regaining weight I had worked so hard to lose, I found myself struggling to move forward, because I remained stuck in a season of regret over the mistakes I made leading me to gain the weight back.
 
After losing my late husband to suicide, I found myself repeatedly revisiting the season right before his death to try to determine if I had done anything differently, would he still be here?
 
After deciding in college to abandon my dream of nursing school, I found myself returning to that season numerous times by reapplying to nursing school, only to realize much later that it was never God’s plan for me to begin with.
 
In each of these cases, God had already ushered me into the next season of my life, but I never allowed myself to go there…completely, that is. 
 
I couldn’t quit thinking about the days, months, or years prior. I replayed those times over and over in my mind. And just like after my sticker nightmare, God had to sweetly remind me…
 
It’s time to move on, dear daughter. Trust My plans for you. Trust Me in this next season. Don’t look back, questioning everything. Don’t look back with regret. I’ve got this! I want nothing but the best for you. Trust Me.
 
And…I’ve so sweetly discovered that only then do I flourish. Only then am I capable of living out His plans for me and in His perfect timing!
 
LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. ~Psalm 84:12 (NIV)

If you would like to read other articles by Leah, you can click here.
If you want to read more articles on dealing with suicide, click here.

Widow Out, Widow In!

There it was, staring down at us from its perfectly formed web…

A spider, complete with — what appeared to the non-trained eye– a sack of babies.

The house I had recently signed a contract on, upon further investigation, had a long-term “resident” who did not have plans on leaving anytime soon. It was the most beautiful web, large, detailed, undisturbed for what looked to us as months.

My realtor probably grew weary of my frequent text messages: “…And you did mention to the seller to have the house sprayed by the bug company, right?”

It was a big concern to me, to say the least. Of all the things, millions of tiny spiders, really creeped me out. It gave me the “willies” on a new level.

My moving was testing my trust in God. Daily. Some days I “passed” the test of trust, and many days I was filled with doubts. How would we fit? Who will help us? How much more do I need to get rid of? It seemed every time I turned around, God was prying one more thing from my grip.

The spider was just one of the many little details God was orchestrating and I was having trouble allowing Him. So many details of this move were NOT the way I would have done it – but actually turned out far BETTER the way God worked it out! Imagine that! For example, the week of the closing, all the day’s details came crashing down like plates, spinning out of control. The mortgage lender and my realtor were frantically emailing and calling each other. I was on the phone constantly changing plans. I had movers, I didn’t have movers, then I had completely different movers. I didn’t have help with some painting, I did have help, then I didn’t have help. Closing day was rearranged. So much changed EVERY DAY. Yet, one of my greatest surprises came at the closing when I questioned one of the forms I was signing. The employee stated that the date of the first mortgage payment was correct, because of the change of closing, I now had an EXTRA MONTH without a house payment!

That, my friends, is just like God!

I whined and cried and spit nails about the closing being delayed. All the while, God was whispering, “Trust Me, Daughter. Trust Me.” Verses came to mind, but I tried to put them out! They would return:

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:4 ESV

In those times when it SEEMS God is not paying attention to me, and I want to bang my cymbals to get Him to look at me, I have to be reminded of TRUTH. He IS an everlasting rock. He IS an eternal stronghold. He IS a comfort.

Yes, the bug company came to spray the spider and her “family members” from my garage, and all the other “residents” from the home, the day before we moved into our new house. But it was the “widow humor” at the closing table that put the “bow” on the whole situation — after many, many months of holding my hand through this weary process, my realtor made a “widow” joke!  We realized that one “widow” (a creature) was kicked out of  the house so another “widow” (me) could move in! “Widow humor”–I love to find the humor especially in those stressful circumstances of life.

So God kept whispering, “Trust Me,” and He made me laugh. Those are the moments I love most about God. It seems He knows my laughter “love language” and speaks it when I most desperately need it.

When I am having my trust tested, I need to hear stories of God’s faithfulness to encourage me. I hope this has encouraged you today. God IS faithful. Cling to the TRUTH today.

Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness. Give me vision to see Your hand at work in my life today, even in the little things and the funny things. Please give us the strength to cling to the truth of Scripture and forgive our lack of trust when we can’t see beyond our current circumstances. Amen


 

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Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

Want to read another article about facing trials? Erika wrote one called Superstorm

Moving is a popular topic for widows. You can read about our sweet Karen’s move here called Change of Plans.

 

 

 

 

 

Pushed Hard

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

Psalm 118:13 (ESV)

My cousin came to visit.  She amazes me.  She eats a gluten-free diet, cooking and preparing everything without prepackaged short-cuts.  She exercises every morning and plans her daily activity to make the most of her now limited abilities. You see—she suffers from a chronic joint pain caused by thyroid issues.  It cropped up out of nowhere five years ago and threatened to turn her into a sidelined victim unless she pulled herself together and pressed through her chronic pain.

Then I visited my dear friend in Colorado.  She equally amazes me.  She took me hiking up steep cliffs and biking dozens of miles, outpacing me no matter how hard I peddled.  She eats a completely organic diet and never complains.  Truth is—she suffers from arthritis so severe she’ll need serious surgery soon to reduce the throbbing constant pain she endures with each step.

You would never know these women suffer as deeply as they do. They’ve learned to push–to persist through their pain and find joy in God’s glory shown through their achievements.

You find this often among athletes and successful career persons.  That competitive edge causes them to see their pain as a part of their challenge.

But with grief it’s different.

Or is it?

Oh, the suffering is different—it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual. It’s wondering if we can ever be happy again, or even content with our lives, now that the rug has been pulled out from under us.

But at about year four I began to wonder if it’s so different. I was over the initial grief and ready to move forward. I had four boys in my home, all too rambunctious for the average new husband candidate, and all too demanding of my attention for me to give a man the attention he would deserve. I knew I was in for more years of missing a man in my life, and so I was marked for a life of solitude at least for the time being.

I began to see my pain of loneliness as just that – pain.  Not unlike physical pain.  Chronic pain, because it never goes away. It’s there when I cook without a man in mind.  It’s there when I wake alone in my bed.  It’s there when I sit in the sanctuary at church and see all the other ladies with their best friend hubbies at their sides.

I can rationalize about it—I don’t need a man, I’m doing great.  I can indulge it—This hurts! Let me tell you about it!  I can try to escape from it—Hey, a glass of wine tonight sounds good!

But the bottom line is – that pain is always there.  Always.

Okay, have I hit a nerve?  Have I pained you enough?  Please accept my apologies.  I just want you to go with me around one more corner.

It’s always there, but so is my cousin’s pain from her thyroid condition.  So is my Colorado friend’s pain as she hikes with arthritis 1000 feet straight up a mountain in the Vail Valley.  So how do they smile?  How do they accept it?

They each made a choice: industry over idleness.

Those in pain who continue remaining idle focus on their pain and begin to wither.

These women do not wither.  They thrive.  They recognize their pain as real, and they lean on their Lord Jesus Christ to help them push through it.  When asked how they endure, one answered “obedience”.  Christ calls her to act out the duties of a Proverbs 31 woman and push through the temptation to remain idle. “Once I push through it, the pain continues, but I don’t notice it so much because there is so much joy in my life.”  She reminded me she doesn’t do it alone. God helps her as He promises in Psalm 118:13:  I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

God knows we all suffer in the world.  But He reminds us that the suffering will give birth to new life if we endure and continue to give Him glory.  “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the LORD; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God. (Isaiah 66:9 ESV)

Are you pushed hard? Let Him help you push back!

Dear Father,

Lift my sisters and bring them joy, even in their loneliness.  Help them know they will not be lonely forever.  You will bring them fellowship here in this abundant life, and You will bring an end to all suffering when You come again.  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:

Loneliness, Get Out!

Solitude vs Loneliness

Where Does My Help Come From

 

When There’s Nothing Left

 

In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

2 Corinthians 7:4 ESV

 

God’s ‘economy’ often makes NO SENSE.

Have you thought that?

This verse from the Apostle Paul is case in point. Affliction and joy, together, in the same sentence? How is that even possible?

Living in a relationship with Christ has shown me that sometimes, the impossible becomes possible.

Since the day before widowhood began, when a relative mentioned in passing that I would probably need to sell the house, I have done just the opposite- I have held on to my home. I had no peace about selling it and uprooting my six children. That is, until about nine months ago. A house popped up on my social media page for sale in our school district that seemed like a place we could make a home. It was even in my price range.

That began the fast track of decluttering my home – with the help of lots of friends and all my kids. In five days, we put our house on the market. I was fully expecting God to bring buyers quickly, and we would be moved by Christmas. We all know the stories –

“I put the sign out and 2 hours later it was sold!”

“I only had my house on the market for 2 days so I just KNEW God wanted me to move!”

Well, nine months went by. No buyers. Not even an offer. Lots and lots of showings every week. Some days spent driving around with a sick kid during the showings. Dog hair floating around the car. Slobber. You get the idea. It was rough keeping the house show-ready week after week. In my “affliction”, I wasn’t exactly “overflowing” with joy. I complained, I fussed, I was cranky.

Did God really tell me to sell? Did I truly believe God wanted me to uproot these children to move to a home about half the size? What was I thinking? What if it wasn’t God telling me to sell? What if it was just indigestion that I misinterpreted as God speaking?

I was beginning to feel similar to the widow in one of Elijah’s encounters. This story is found in 1 Kings 17.

Elijah asked the widow to make him a small cake of bread, but she informed him she had only enough left in her home to make something for herself and her son, and then they would die. It made no sense to her to do what he asked. He seemed to be asking something too hard of her. Wow, does THAT ever resonate with me!

“I only have one drop of oil left,” the widow spoke to Elijah in desperation. She had her son to feed and nothing left to live on. Elijah told her not to be afraid but go ahead and make his food before she made the food for her son.

“Don’t be afraid?” She knew the end of the bottle of oil. She knew the bottom of the flour bucket. “Don’t be afraid…” Sometimes following God doesn’t make earthly sense. She had her son to take care of! She had her life to get in order before dying!

Did God want to ‘take away’ her last drop of oil? It sure seemed like it. But maybe that isn’t the right perspective. Maybe instead of “taking away”…

He wanted to multiply her gift. Her gift of oil. But she had to let go of it first.

I am having to let go of some things from married life. My home is only one of many things. So. Much. Stuff. Can you relate? God has been saying to me to let it go. He keeps telling me He isn’t taking away my house, but is multiplying something far better. Maybe I won’t even know what the gift He is multiplying until I let go of what I am holding on to so tightly.

When the widow in the passage gave the last of her oil to Elijah, she found God multiplied the oil so it never ran out before there was another harvest. What a miracle that must have been to experience! I want to trust God enough with this move, knowing that He will provide a perfect place for us. I want to have that “overflowing joy” in this “affliction” known as moving and packing.

Lord God, Thank You for the overflowing joy You offer through the Holy Spirit. Help us to LET GO of whatever we are holding too tightly to so You can have it. We want the fruit of the Spirit multiplied in our lives and we want Your love multiplied in our lives. Do whatever You need to in our hearts to mold us and shape us into the women You want us to be. Amen


 

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Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars! Oh, and 1 hermit crab that continues to hold onto life some how. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was! Widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

Would you like to have a team member speak at your event? Contact us at admin@anewseason.net

Want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Click here.

Another good article is The Waiting Room by Sherry and Earthly Treasures by Karen

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift Giver

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.

He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5, NLT

 

Sometimes God calls us to go down paths we would not choose; paths that make us afraid, intimidated, anxious, lonely, tired, worn and exhausted. Grief is one of those paths. Not one of us awoke one day and said, “I think this is the day I would like to become a widow.” We did not pick it, plan it-even if we knew it was coming, strive for it, or want to accept it with open arms.

I would have celebrated my fifteenth wedding anniversary just a few weeks ago. I only told a couple of people…

after the fact.

I didn’t make a social media post or call on my prayer warriors. I didn’t tell my church ministry team or my best friend. Part of me just didn’t want to share it. The other part of me didn’t want to live it. I just wanted it to be another day on this journey to the healing and the new God has for me.

I’M NOT SURE IF I MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE….

But, isn’t that common for us? Isn’t it normal to doubt what we do or why we do it, on the crazy winding road of grief? This road takes us into the lowest valleys, where it is barren and dry and it takes us up to the highest of mountain tops, where we can almost see the face of God, because He draws us intimately close. So close that we can gaze into the majesty of His face and breath through Him.

However, it is still a road none of us wanted to travel. We did not look forward with anticipation, pack our bags weeks ahead of time, plan out stops or things we wanted to see, on this frequently traveled, intensely crowded, yet immeasurably lonely road.

WAS THERE A RIGHT CHOICE, OR WAS IT JUST MY CHOICE?

It’s the million-dollar question for us, sometimes. Is there a “right” choice to be made, or simply a choice. Is there one way to do this with excellence, because others are watching, or are there many ways to do this, with no one having a right to stand in judgement of my way?

The answer to those questions, is yes. There are sometimes right choices to be made and there are ways to do this with excellence in those choices, if we seek first the Kingdom of God. His word clearly says, “He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow.” Deuteronomy 10:18 ESV. He also says, we are to seek Him first, not others. We can go to many, and they will FREELY give their opinions, but at the end of the day, the ONLY opinion that matters is God’s. We will be held accountable to do what He calls us to do.

God has asked me to get ready for the new….

I’m not sure what all that means yet, or what that looks like, and I have to be okay with not knowing. I have to trust in my Father and be obedient to His call on my spirit and in my heart. What is God calling you to trust Him for, right now? Is He asking you to move, or do something new for your children? Is He asking you to find a new church or make different financial choices? Is He prompting you to a “new”?

I will NEVER forget or stop loving, my beloved Daryl. He is part of who I am and I was his forever love. This year, how I chose to honor what would have been 15 years, was to live the way he always wanted me to live, God first, and him second. I held him close all day, as a precious gift should be, but the gift was not more important than The Gift Giver.

Father, we need Your wisdom and Your hand on our shoulders. Keep us from evil so we may do no harm and guide us by Your mighty hand. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


 

Tcas1Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012 after losing her best friend, Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

Would you like to schedule Teri or another team member to speak at your next church event? Contact her at admin@anewseason.net

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

Posts similar to this one by other authors: Go North & I Got Dumped

 

Stress, Smiles, and Focus

She laughs without fear of the future.  Proverbs 31:25b (NLT)

Although each journey is unique and traveled at a different pace, we can all agree on at least one thing: Life as a widow is stressful.

I have lived this for over two years. Day in and day out, the reality of doing this life alone is my world.  Solo parenting, it rocks my socks off.  Most nights I collapse into bed praying God redeems my many parenting fails of the day and thankful for His fresh mercies coming with the next daybreak.  But if I am honest, I also smile at the memories of the day; the growth, the laughter, even the mistakes, they are all a blessing.

Being the only bread winner and knowing college tuition for two is speeding head on at me in the near future makes my heart skip a beat or two. I’ve chosen to make sacrifices to follow through on something Tim and I believed in for our children.  It’s hard work, but I smile knowing I will be able to help them achieve their dreams.

Taking care of a home, well let’s just say I was the one in our marriage that made everything look pretty and kept it clean. Tim was the handy man.  I have learned how to change air filters, how to hang things without creating fifty-kajillion holes in the wrong place (down to forty-kajillion, but it is improvement), check gutters to make sure rain water can flow freely, air up flat tires with the compressor, set mouse traps in the garage (not going to even lie, my kids had to dispose of the body once we caught it…ick).  The list goes on and on. Thinking back over the things I have accomplished that in my previous life would have been considered “man jobs” makes me smile and chuckle a bit.

God is faithful! He is molding me into what I need to be to thrive in this season of my life.  He takes my stress triggers and injects them with humor.  Humor is the way to my heart.  I love a good laugh.

My word for 2016 is “FOCUS”. I have been intentional in remaining focused on God’s goodness.  Focusing on the work He is daily doing in our lives; acutely aware of His blessings in the hard.  Seeking out His whispers of encouragement, I am leaning deeply into the presence of my Savior.

It is transforming me.

The stressful situations aren’t disappearing, and honestly, they aren’t going to.

But what I am doing with the stress, focusing on the One who is capable of filling in the gaps of my failures, is where my growth is exploding.  I don’t have this whole, “hand it all to Jesus and experience full and total release” down yet.  I probably never will, because I am a work in progress.  I just choose to keep doing my best.  I don’t forget the healing power of laughing at myself.

I focus on God’s faithfulness and let Him do His work.

He is enough.

Lord, I thank You for humor. Some days laughter is my only escape from the stress of this life.  Remind us at the end of this day that You sprinkled blessings all along our way and help us to see them with grateful hearts.  Amen.


 

Lori meet usLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

Applying Peace

“You keep him in perfect peace,

whose mind is stayed on You,

because he trusts in You.”

Isaiah 26:3 ESV

My phone dinged with notice of a private facebook message.  A sweet friend had a question for me.  “How have you effectively applied the peace of God to your life?”   The question stopped me in my tracks and took my mind down memory lane as visions of the past four years began bombarding me.

Here is a portion of my response:

I guess for me, it all comes down to a choice. As a child of God, access to His perfect peace is constantly mine. It is my choice to rest in that peace or not.

It is easier to write the words, than to put them into practice.

My choice to sit still in the midst of chaotic suffering

and let His peace wash over me is one of acceptance and surrender.

I’ve had to accept that God is good. His ways are higher and His plans are better. His promises are of an eternal perspective. These facts do not change. My circumstances do not hold the power to alter the character of who God is. His goodness is not dependent on whether He answers my prayers the way I desire.

I have come to terms with pain and difficulty always being a part of this life. They have a purpose for being allowed to touch us. Nothing touches me that God hasn’t first stood upon. He knows. He allows; partially because we live in a fallen world and partially because He wants to draw us closer to His side through the difficult times. It is during hardships that we have the ability to see His character, strength, peace, and majesty magnified.

The losses, the sufferings, the sorrows I have faced in this life leave me with a choice.  I can choose to surrender it all to the One who comforts, consoles, and loves. I can surrender the hurts and exchange them for His peace.

For me, being filled with His peace does not mean everything will work out while on this earth. It means, regardless of what occurs here, I have eternity with Him. That knowledge doesn’t necessarily lessen the pain. My heart is literally broken. I’ve felt the physical breaking of it as well as the emotional. It stinks. I won’t lie about that.

But what His peace does is stand beside my faith and fills in the cracks and gaps of my brokenness.

It reminds me that my life is only a vapor.

It assures me that eternity in the presence of God will be grander than my wildest imagination.

It sustains me when I cannot catch my breath.

So the application, in my opinion, comes in the CHOICE to accept and surrender. Through these deliberate actions, I am able to apply His peace to each area of my life.

His peace is where I choose to collapse when my parenting skills are lacking and I feel like a failure doing this solo. His Word tells me He is a father to the fatherless. I trust Him to help me parent these children He blessed us with.

His peace is what comforts me when I am lonely. Doing this life as a single wasn’t my plan. I still want Tim by my side. But I trust that God goes ahead of me, walks beside me, and hems me in from behind. His peace gives me confidence to hold my head high and not be ashamed of my singleness nor be desperate for a mate. My worth and value are found in my relationship with Him.

His peace is where I surrender my financial fears. I work hard with the skill set He has given me and I try to be prudent in my spending habits. I trust that seeking His wisdom and the counsel of those He has placed around me will help me thrive with less.

The foot of the cross is where I exchange my frustrations for His peace.

It is a daily occurrence.

Lord, I lay it all down at the foot of the cross in exchange for Your peace that passes all understanding.  Give me the strength to leave it there, surrendered to You and not pick it back up again piece by piece.  And when I do start trying to carry the burdens of worry, fear, and frustration again, guide me back to You where You are always willing to take my burden in exchange for the gift of Your perfect peace.  Amen.


 

Lori meet usLori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering.

If you would like Lori or another team member to speak at your event, email us at admin@anewseason.net

Click  here for more articles written by Lori. 

For other articles on the topic of peace, see Lonely? Exchange it for Peace by Ami Atikins or It Brought Me to My Knees by Teri Cox

SOS (Sudden Onset Sleepies)

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV)

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed you suddenly felt sleepy?

I hadn’t felt that reaction to stress since those early days after the funeral, but I felt it again recently.

It was one of those weeks with tax returns, senior graduation planning, family summer scheduling and promised ministry duties. I simply had to meet all of these deadlines.

So, I hunkered down and began drilling through the mound of paperwork on my desk.

I was chugging along when something stopped my progress dead in its tracks—a drawn-out phone call with automated voice menus, hold times and customer service reps who kept forwarding me along to another, giving me plenty of time to think about all the tasks building up like a logjam.

While on hold, I found myself fighting a sort of shut-down dance. It started with a buzz of tension that crawled up my spine and bounced about in my head, and quickly turned into an overwhelming urge to do one thing, and only one thing—sleep. It were as though my eyelids would have to be propped up with toothpicks just to get through that phone call. And as soon as I hung up, boom! I collapsed into a twenty minute snooze.

The nap was easy to manage in my life as a homeschool mom with no office job to stop me.

But I wondered, once I step back into the work world, won’t I need a better way to handle stress?

God created in us an ability to manage our emotions in so many ways. Growing sleepy as a reaction to my mound of papers was a red flag telling me to work through the underlying problem—-stress.

What can I learn from Martha?

She rushed about preparing the home for her guests and grew anxious when Mary let go of those hospitality duties enough to relax and relate to Jesus.

I pictured Martha outside of the kitchen, then warped into modern times—sitting in front of a laptop with a cell phone to her ear, pressing hard to get all that work done. If Jesus kindly called Martha out on her misplaced priorities in the kitchen, doesn’t He also call us out when we let the whirlwind of today’s information age tie us up in knots? Was my sleepy reaction a wake up call to slow down and stop being a Martha?

God calls us to remember what’s important. Romans 12:2 tells us “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

I prayed. God, how can I change my routines so that this overwhelmed feeling doesn’t escalate again?

Then I sat, breathed and took in what He had to say. Enjoy what I’ve put on your plate!

Exactly. The reason logjams happen is that I’m piling responsibility after responsibility on my plate and then rushing about bopping down every deadline that pops up its annoying head. In the process, I’ve set aside precious daily routines that kept me in Mary’s world—exercising and getting in His word each morning, keeping my home tidy, spending time each day writing, having relaxed and spontaneous connections with my friends, keeping a handle on my finances, eating right and taking time to enjoy my time in the kitchen.

I’m now unpacking what needs to change in my life to bring Mary back. Would you pray with me? I bet you have a Mary in you just waiting to come out.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the mechanisms You’ve built in each and every one of us to warn us when we’ve flown too close to the sun and need to slow down. Would you guide me through the steps I need to take to open up time and joy in my schedule? Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers 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:

Lead Me- Guide Me, Walk Beside Me

The Bout with Doubt

The Bout with Doubt Part Two:  Recognizing Habitual Tears