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

 

Loneliness, Get Out!

“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26 (ESV)

Loneliness kept me up at night and woke me each morning.

I would get so mad at him. But he was relentless.

He’d poke at my gut and mess with my bedding until I’d roll, and toss and turn myself awake.

I’d tell him get out of my bed!

And he would.

Only to leave me with a cold metal laptop sleeping beside me.

Then I would rub my eyes and recognize the pointlessness of pounding my pillow. I’d pull open that laptop and occupy those wasted hours of no sleep by trying to accomplish some task.

At first I’d think, I’ve done it! Kicked him out for good! I’d hammered out an article for the ministry.  I’d tell myself how grateful I am for modern technology. With just an arm-reach beside me, I could have the right tools to capture my inspiration and put my ideas to work!

But once the article was done, something else awaited me on that laptop: social media–facebook photos of married couples, that friend who hasn’t come around lately, or twitter tweets of people living the life I lived when I had my husband. Loneliness returned to feed on my thoughts, and this time he brought with him yet another poor bedfellow–Anxiety.

I’d cry out to God , “why won’t You take these feelings away?”

He answered by bringing Scripture to my heart.

In the eleventh chapter of Luke (Luke 11:24-26 above), Jesus explains it’s not enough to clean your heart of evil spirits by taking action on your own.  If you rid yourself of bad thoughts and attitudes, but don’t fill your heart with Christ, those thoughts will return and compound themselves with other vices.

By taking the edge off my loneliness with being busy, was I not sweeping my heart clean from Loneliness without guarding my heart from his return?

Taking God at His word, I changed my nighttime habits. I intentionally place all electronics on the other side of the room and leave my sleeping to just that–sleeping.

The only reading material I keep at my bedside now is Scripture.

That way God is there with me whenever I need Him.  When I drift to sleep and when I wake.

On the first morning after making this change, I awoke again before the sun came up and considered how different it felt without that computer right there to grab.

That lonely feeling was there, but I reached for God, not busyness.  I grabbed the Bible right there on my nightstand and let God’s words cradle me, relax me and lull me back to sleep.

And when the sun rose, I felt energized, wanting to pull back the covers and get started with my day.

The result?  My home is cleaner.  My bills are paid earlier.  My kids get a cooked breakfast more often, and I’m exercising more.

And most of all, I’ve kicked loneliness out of my bed and invited in the true Comforter.

How about you?  How do you awake in the morning?

Precious Father God, for years grief took over my nights and mornings, slowing my progress through the day. But You are good to heal, Lord.  Thank you.  Please lift my sister out of her loneliness and give her Your Holy Spirit and carry her through this day.  Amen.


 

Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker, and was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008.  After four years with that ministry, she expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she stepped back from the leadership role, 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 Kit or another team member speak, please email us at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author: Kit Hinkle

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

A Cry in the Night by Linda Lint

Miscellaneous ramblings of a tired mommy by Nancy Howell

He Still Whispers

 “And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” 

                                                                                                      I Kings 19:12b ESV        

I truly love the hope a new year can bring.  My daughters always give me a new wall calendar every Christmas and I love writing in upcoming events and important days to remember.  A new year brings in goals and dreams, wishes and desires, hopes and plans.  But, thus far, this year has stretched demands to a point where I am being tested and I must confess that the new year and I have not started on a very positive note.  Quite honestly, several challenges have me feeling a bit like being backed into a deep dark cave.

Have you ever felt this way?  I think we all have at one point.  We are bombarded with the demands of life and often times those demands can begin to suffocate. They arrive in many forms; loneliness, financial strain, single parenting, household upkeep, employment, health concerns, aging parents.  These are but a few factors that can cause a desire for us to want to slip into a cave. They can arrive as a single challenge or can rear an ugly head and come in multiple doses.  They are loud, they are frightening and they demand our attention.

It is so easy to get caught up in the “troubles” of our lives.  We let them captivate our thoughts and often times we try and run away thinking we can hide from the ugliness they place in our heart. Day after day, night after night, we feel the pressure of these pesky concerns.

We want to run and hide.

Much like Elijah.  The 19th chapter of I Kings speaks about Elijah running from Jezebel whose desire was to kill Elijah.  The Lord ministered to Elijah and encouraged him to eat.  He then traveled to the Mount of Horeb where he entered into a cave feeling lonely and defeated.  It is here that the Lord instructs Elijah to leave the cave and stand in the presence of the Lord who is about to pass by.  A great and powerful wind passed by, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  After the fire came a still small voice.

A whisper.

God wanted to show Elijah where He was, by first showing him where He was not. He did not arrive in a dramatic manifestation; instead, He chose to get Elijah’s attention by a whisper.

These challenges that have forced stress and fear upon me are like the wind, earthquake and fire. They make me want to tell Elijah “Move over, I am coming into the cave.”  They are loud and frightful.

But, God is not in them.

Oh that I may have the heart of Elijah.  May I humbly heed the words of the psalmist; “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.”  (Psalm 37:7)

He whispers to me, “I Am”.  I am bigger than all of these “problems”.  I am with you.

Yes, Lord.  I hear you.

This passage is a plea for us to listen closely to God.  Be humble.  Be obedient.  Be attentive.  Be prepared for surprises.

It is my prayer that you hear His still, small voice as you go forward in this journey.  He is bigger than any problem or challenge you face.  I pray you can hear His whisper in the midst of any battle you are facing.

He is near.

He hears you.

Listen.

Precious Lord, I am so blessed that you love me and can get my attention with just a still small voice in the midst of any challenge I face.  My prayer is that all these dear widows can hear the whisper of your love in the journey of widowhood and the obstacles it can bring.  Thank you, Lord,  for the whisper.  Amen.


Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

To book a speaker email us at admin@anewseason.net

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about preparing yourself to hear God’s whispers, Growing God Roots by Terry Cox- Growing God Roots

Why Am I Doing This?

S H E E R   P A N I C !

I have absolutely nothing left to give. Why am I doing this? 

These words can grip my soul as tenaciously as the many fears that gripped my heart in those first few months of widowhood.

These words, I have battled with often. They creep in unexpectedly and can overwhelm me for days. Sometimes they even immobilize me – especially when it is time to write to you. And as the battle rages on, once again, I ask, “why am I doing this?”

Because I was created to glorify Him!

Our purpose is explicitly spelled out in Isaiah:

 

                                                                “everyone who is called by my name,

                                                                  whom I created for my glory,

                                                                   whom I formed and made.”

                                                                                                    Isaiah 43:7  ESV                        

We are created for His glory!

The task before me today is not by chance. God knows what I am struggling with, He knows what I am thinking. He knows my shortcomings. And long ago He wrote me a love letter to encourage my heart. In His letter, He reminded me I was created for His glory. He also wrote a story about another widow, who out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. She thought she had nothing left to give…He saw so much more. He saw her sacrifice and her heart. In that one small act, she glorified Him. Can you imagine? With a simple act of sacrifice today we can glorify our Lord – the great I Am!

So it matters not, if I feel totally inadequate, or if I panic about the words to write so you will be encouraged. It matters not, if my heart continually breaks for your pain until I feel like I have nothing left to give. What does matter is today I will give everything I have to give. Tomorrow I hope to do the same. The trials I have faced have worked much like the refiner’s fire. My greatest desire is to do what I was created to do – glorify Him!

What is your heart’s greatest desire?

Sisters, my prayer for you today is that you will live today to its fullest. You will not let fear or grief or insecurities or just everyday distractions stop you from giving all that you have. It may be a simple smile or a thank you when you are at your lowest. It may be a prayer of praise acknowledging He is your Lord and Savior. It may be trusting Him to get you through one more day. It may be taking on a new challenge or forgiving someone that really doesn’t deserve forgiveness. It may be sharing your story and testifying about the magnificence of His grace. Whatever He puts before you, may your sacrifice and your heart glorify Him!

Let these words from the hymn “Hark, The Voice of Jesus Calling” inspire you to continue running the race as the faithful servant you are:

Let none hear you idly saying,

There is nothing I can do.

While the lost of earth are dying,

And the Master calls for you;

Take the task He gives you gladly;

Let His work your pleasure be;

Answer quickly when He calls you,

Here am I, send me, send me.

       Words by Daniel March, 1868 in the hymn “Hark, The Voice of Jesus Calling”

 

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. 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 her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Want to read another great article by Sheryl    Grief Renegades

Want to read another article about your purpose? Worship the Lord Our Maker by Jill

 

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

Confused and Overwhelmed

Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.

                                                                                                                          Psalm 119:133 ESV

Headlines covering the recent terrorist attacks remind us of the devastating feelings that engulf us when death occurs. Like an explosion, death destroys in an instant. What once was – is gone. We are instantly immersed in excruciating grief. Eventually, as the smoke begins to clear, we start to move again, only to find ourselves intensely confused and overwhelmed. And so the daily battle begins.

As widows, we find ourselves, faced with hundreds, possibly thousands of decisions, when all we want to do is curl up in a ball. Do you want your loved one buried or cremated? What type of service do you want? Who is going to call so and so? Where are they going to stay? Are you going to sell the house?  What are you going to do with his car? Are you going to work (or continue working)? How are the kids doing? Do you have enough money? What can we do to help? Are you going to get rid of his clothes? When are you going to get rid of his clothes? What are you going to do for the holidays? How are the legal issues going? Have you talked to his family? Are you going to date? And the list goes on and on. And new questions and challenges continue to face us as the journey continues. Have you filed the taxes yet? Are you going to make a memorial quilt or scrapbook? Are you sure you are not ready to date yet? How are you going to fix the car, the fan, the dryer?

No wonder we are confused and overwhelmed.

One of the biggest blessings in my early stages of grief was having one friend that met with me each week to listen as I processed all the decisions I had to make. The most valuable thing she taught me was when I started to get overwhelmed, she would remind me of the things I had already overcome. It was like sticking my nose in God’s faithfulness repeatedly because it clearly was not because of my strength that I had overcome those obstacles, it was because of His strength and provision. He is the one who makes my steps steady. Every time she reminded me of God’s faithfulness, I was able to take one more step. And slowly, but surely, the discipline of remembering God’s faithfulness became more ingrained in my daily thinking. And eventually I could not only walk again, but I could run. Run straight into God’s arms with complete trust, because she had shown me the way, because she knew the way. A few years before, my friend’s incredibly precious seven-year-old son had died because of a tragic accident. She understood firsthand the absolute devastation of grief. She knew how to trust God during the worst of times and how to conquer being confused and overwhelmed. She taught me. And now it is my turn to teach others. He is the one who makes my steps steady.

Dear Sister, you belong to Him! He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. He cares about each tear. And He has a purpose for you! Each and every day, He is adding to your portion of faith. You may not see it immediately, you may not feel it. But He is faithful. He is with you. He will keep your steps steady. And soon it will be your turn to teach others. To show them the way, just as my friend showed me. Remember His Faithfulness! 

 

 

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. 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 her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Want to read another great article by Sheryl?  Heartwarming Conclusion

Want to read another article about God’s faithfulness? Moving Forward by Teri Cox

Fear Not

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.     

Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

Is today one of those intense grief days?  Are you struggling with the fear of the unknowns in your life without your husband?

I remember clearly the feeling of fear gripping my entire being the morning I awoke realizing my husband was not in a “deep sleep”, but had journeyed to his heavenly home.  I could not imagine how I was ever going to face another tomorrow without him.  For forty-eight years he was my constant companion, best friend, lover, father to our children, working partner, protector and so much more.  We truly had become “one” and depended on each other all of the time.  Many people said they rarely saw one of us without the other!

“Tomorrow” is a word often filled with promise and hope.  With the challenges I faced, the thought of tomorrow left me feeling anxious, inadequate, and overpowered.  I knew in order to conquer the fear of tomorrow I had to trust God to be my constant companion and my ultimate caretaker.  I needed to focus on Him, who He is, His promises, and His plan for me.

The following words were written in one of the devotionals I use “ I am with you continually, so don’t be intimidated by fear.  Though it stalks you, it cannot harm you, as long as you cling to My hand.  Keep your eyes on Me, enjoying Peace in My Presence.”

Music has always touched my heart allowing me to communicate with God when I cannot focus as I should.  A few weeks before my husband’s passing we had the privilege of attending the first performance of  “Fear Not Tomorrow – A Worship Experience” at our church.  The music and the message it brought seemed so timely – we were facing uncertain tomorrows relating to our business.  Little did I know how my tomorrows would change in just a short time – but God did – He was already there and preparing me through the ministry of this music.

I have spent many hours listening and absorbing the message of this music in the past few months.  My husband fulfilled many roles and took care of me during the time I was allowed to spend with him.  It is hard to imagine that anyone else would care that much for me -but God does!   His love is never ending, His arms are there to hold and embrace me, and He’s in control of every tomorrow I will face.

I’d like to share the words from one of the songs:

Come all who are broken
Come if you’re afraid
Come taste His sweet water
Come feel His embrace
There’s more than existing
There’s more He will give
The future is waiting
This time is yours to live
His arms always open
They’re aching to hold
The bounties of heaven
Are waiting to flow
Let go what restrains you
Let God fill your soul
You don’t know tomorrow
But you know Who’s in control 
Fear not tomorrow
God is already there
Through your joy or in sorrow
Every moment is in His care
Let the song of His love
Sing over you and declare
Fear not tomorrow
God is already there *

My dear sisters, I continually need to ask the Lord’s help to face tomorrow, and what it might bring, without fear.  In the midst of my heartache I forget and take my eyes off of Jesus.  And that’s whenever the fear creeps back in!  I pray He will continue to remind each of us of His greatness and love for us, and His presence in all of our tomorrows as we walk this unwanted journey of widowhood. ~Karen

 

 *Fear Not Tomorrow by:

Sarah Mentzer, Brandee Vandergriff, and Tim Paul

Used by Permission – Copyright © 2011 Risen Music Publishing

Coop Chaos

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

-Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

 A friend of mine has a flock of young chickens.  These biddies free-range during the day, but go back into the coop for their grain in the evening.  Late one afternoon, I helped open the coop and put out the grain.

Cackling as they came, the flock descended upon the coop.  Most ran straight for the coop door, bolted inside, and attacked the food trough.  A couple, however, could not find the entrance.  Poor babies, they beat themselves against the side of the coop, clucking madly, in their confusion.  Finally, we took pity on them, picked them up, and set them in front of the open door.  They immediately ran excitedly into the coop with the rest, enjoying their grain.

I thought, How silly these chickens are! 

And then I realized, disconcertedly, that at times I am as silly as the chickens!

Sometimes I squawk about my widow status…all the things I have to do without Keith here.  The broken car, the broken dishwasher, the broken dryer, the broken microwave…an endless list needs my time and attention.  I feel overwhelmed at times, beating my head against the never-ending problems, seeing no solutions…feeling like I have no way to get into the coop of safety, security and calmness.

And yet…there is a solution…a way into the door….right from the scripture.

Trust God – acknowledge Him – don’t lean on myself.

When I take a moment to get quiet with God, distraction-free, I feel His hand lifting me out of the situation and into His greater glory and to His better plan.  The peace I seek becomes less elusive.  I can feed on it, and my Savior’s love, just as the chicks who finally find the door.

Sisters, are you feeling this kind of stress today?  Are you seeking that peace that has become elusive?  Are you squawking instead of listening, just as I was?  Turn to the One who can lift you out of this confusion and onto His path for you, providing you with the sustaining “grain” of His peace!  It will be worth it.  I promise.

Father, forgive me for when I lose my perspective – on You, on my troubles, on my life.  It is not easy on planet Earth for anyone!  I sometimes lose my focus, forgetting to look for You working in my life.  Help me to see You clearly, and the path You have set before me.  Help me to put my hand in Yours as I continue this journey of widowhood.  Help me to feed on You and You alone for my strength and comfort.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.