A Great Love

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: Psalm 34:18 KJV

My husband passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2011. 

He had been battling a rare blood cancer for over four years.  In November, 2010, it became apparent that the only chance to save his life would be to undergo a bone marrow transplant.  After much prayer, tremendous love from our family and  friends, and a divine certainty that we were in God’s will, we took a leave of absence from our jobs and left Northern Virginia for Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

My husband, Bill, received his transplant on January 14, 2011.  Bill was forty-two and strong in body and spirit.  The first few days were fine. However as we waited for the engrafting to occur, Bill began to contract infections (viral, fungal, bacterial, etc.) because he had no immune system.  

As we watched Christina Aguilera sing the Super Bowl National Anthem on February 6, 2011, I turned to comment on her mistake and Bill was unresponsive.  A team rushed in, and he was whisked away to ICU.  I called our family, and they started making plans to come from various areas of the country.  I will never forget the last words that Bill spoke to me a few days before he passed away.  He said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife!”   Bill fought for several days more.

For a whole day on February 13, the word “Goodbye” kept whispering in my head and heart.  I knew it was the Lord and that He was lovingly preparing me for His answer to my prayers, but I kept pushing it away, hiding from it.  Finally, on the morning of February 14, I couldn’t sleep, woke up early and prayed.  God lovingly reminded me that I had to say goodbye…not forever, but for now.

As I made my way to the hospital with Bill’s wedding band and his favorite blanket, I realized that I had to tell Bill it was okay to go.  I entered the ICU,  covered him gently with his favorite soft blanket and slipped his wedding band on his finger.  I gently laid my head on the pillow beside his ear and whispered, “I don’t want you to go, but if Jesus comes for you, go ahead, I’ll be OK.  I love you!”  He opened and closed his eyes several times and made eye contact with me.

As eighteen of our family gathered around his bedside in the ICU, we sang hymns, took turns kissing and hugging him as he looked each one of us in the eyes and blinked goodbye.  I know the moment our Savior showed up and took my sweet Bill by the hand and led him over into Gloryland.  His countenance became that of a little boy full of wonder and his beautiful lips formed a perfect “O” as though he was already singing praises to the Lord.

Later, we made our way back to the hotel and as I sat in the lobby surrounded by family, the front desk found me and handed me a beautiful flower arrangement.  I thought friends had sent it – after all it was Valentine’s Day.  I opened the card and it said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife. Love, Bill”

God didn’t leave me in that room in the ICU.  He didn’t leave me in that hotel lobby crying over the last Valentine’s flowers I would receive from my husband.  He gave me hope.  I will see my husband again.  I have a Savior that who cares about my every thought and need.  He seeks my company all day and never fails me.

I have discovered I would not have picked this journey if given the choice, but I like who I have become because of what has happened to me.  God’s not done with me yet, and I’m excited to see the plans He has for my life and future.

My husband loved the Lord and, on a day all about love, he went Home to be with his Love.  That is hopeful!

This Valentine’s Day, on the day that celebrates love, may you think about the Lord who loves you—and will never leave you, no matter what.  That’s a promise from Him.

Dear Lord, Thank You for allowing me to love and be loved.   Thank You for assurance that I have an eternal home in Heaven with You when my earthly ministry is finished.  Thank You for Valentine’s Day and a new understanding of love that I have because of You.


Sherry 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 active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 20 years old and is in her second year of 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 

Another great article about Valentine’s Day is Holding HIS Hand… by Linda Lint

A New Word for a New Year

Galatians 3:11 (The Message)

The person who lives in

right relationship with God

does it by EMBRACING

what God arranges for him.

My mouth fell open. I sat in shock as the speaker seemed to look directly at me. How could she have known what God had been doing in my life for the past six months? It appeared she could see directly into my heart as she spoke.

But the verse she used almost made me stand up and shout, “Thank You, Jesus!” She had us turn to this verse in Galatians, and when she read it from The Message, it gave me chills.

You see, in 2016, I found a word, just one seven-letter word, that was to be my “word for the year”.

Embrace.

When I saw this verse had MY word in it, I knew I needed to take careful note.

God had shown me the word EMBRACE often over the past six months before I ever thought to see if there were any verses about it. I should have known that if God was going to lead me to a “word”, He would include His Word with it!

So what did I have to EMBRACE in 2016?

  • my widowhood – it is what God has arranged for me, and it is my story to bring Him glory.

  • my family – having children was arranged by God, so I embrace parenting with God as the father to the fatherless.

  • my past marriage – its difficulties  have allowed me to minister to others in similar circumstances. Its greatness has allowed me wonderful memories.

  • moving –  selling the home full of memories of my husband and purchasing a smaller home ready for new memories was a roller coaster of emotions.

As I develop my relationship with God by spending time with Him in His Word, I will EMBRACE what He arranged for me. I like to use my One Year Bible since it is a version I don’t use often. I see familiar passages in an entirely new light.

Recently I asked God if EMBRACE  was to continue as my word for 2017. Driving around with my son one day, our discussion turned to a relationship I was struggling with. What came to mind was how I should handle rejection by praying for the person. That’s when a new word for the new year hit me –

RELEASE! 

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will RELEASE my feet from the snare. 

Psalm 25:15 NIV

What do I need to RELEASE for 2017?

  • people – certain folk I am releasing to God (some on social media and some in real life).

  • situations – those I can’t control (like the Serenity Prayer says) need to be released to God’s control.

  • expectations – of myself and of others are being released.

All of these are snares for me personally. And keeping my eyes “ever on the Lord” is the best way to release these people or feelings to His control.

Happy 2017, sisters. Let’s make this a year of EMBRACING what God has arranged for us and of RELEASING what God doesn’t have for us.

Heavenly Father, as we start a new year, help us embrace all You have arranged. Energize our time spent building our relationship with You this coming year. We are grateful for Your love and care in our lives. We release what we cannot control to Your control. Amen

 


 

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning 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. 

Would you like to read some articles for the start of a new year? Click here and here.

 

Christmas 2016

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. 

Luke 2:11 KJV

Christmas 2016 – six Christmases without Bill.  He loved Christmas! The lights, the family gatherings, the movies, the friends, celebrating, surprises…all of it!  Christmas with Bill brought belief and wonder into our home as early in the season as possible.  I loved Christmas with Bill and my daughter!

The first Christmas without Bill, I forced myself to do something different.  My daughter and I flew to the “happiest place on earth” in Florida.  As we checked into our beautiful hotel, I learned that my daughter didn’t really want to go on this trip. On Christmas Eve, I finally talked her into going to an Irish pub that featured clog dancing while eating. We enjoyed the dancers, my food was ok, but my daughter “liked” it – first compliment of the trip.

As we fell asleep Christmas Eve, it felt so good to not be home wandering around the sameness, yearning for what was missing.  At 4 am, I awoke to find I had food poisoning…violent food poisoning.   2011 was officially the WORST Christmas ever.  I knew it was going to be bad after my husband died, but this bad topped my most creative thoughts of what bad might look like.

Every Christmas that has followed has been better and better.  My daughter and I have charted a course through this grief journey and have managed to create a very special looking-back and living-forward Christmas tradition.

Christmas 2016 was, by far, the best since we started this journey.  It was filled with quiet moments of reflection and also wonderful moments of living and loving.  Bill’s life was honored, but wonderful new traditions were weaved around that.

We are moving forward and, instead of dragging our sorrow with us, we have lovingly tucked it into our everyday moments where memories can shine, allowing us to enjoy the moment. 

Each Christmas, I think about what Heaven is like versus the Christmas we celebrate here.  Both of us look to the Savior.  Bill is complete and gets to walk into the throne room, worshiping in the presence of the King freely.  He has seen our Savior’s beautiful face!  Perhaps he has met biblical “heroes” and reconnected with Saints gone before him. Looking forward to that, we make the best of our finite capabilities, stringing lights to represent the Heavenly host and the special star.  We look at the Baby born that night who held a beautiful promise.  We look to a Savior that our hearts know and accept His Salvation, awaiting the day we will see Him face-to-face. 

The thought that drifts through my brain so often since Bill’s death is the promise of salvation gives me hope and allows me to grieve in hope. Because of my Savior and the salvation He offers, I will see Bill again. I will someday join him and all my other loved ones who accepted that salvation.  I will get to see my Savior’s beautiful face!  I will get to talk to the Bible heroes.  There is hope and, while I am here, I have a purpose.  I am to point others to this promise of salvation.  I am to minister to others, helping them see the Hope. 

Christmas is the promise of a Savior fulfilled.  A Savior who made the perfect sacrifice so we might have eternal life.   We can deal with life’s difficulties with hope that only comes from the Savior. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sherry 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 active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and has just started her second year of 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: A Christmas Butterfly by Linda Lint

Extravagant Love

Have you ever been loved on so much it embarrassed you? By embarrassed I mean you felt awkward, self-conscious, or ashamed. It happened to me, and it made me realize I should feel this way daily.

I have always loved Christmas. The beautiful lights, the decorations, the time with family, the parties, the music, the heart-warming movies, but most of all the wonderful celebration focused on our Savior’s birth. And then came widowhood, when suddenly everything, even Christmas, seemed so different.

My first Christmas without my husband is a blank. I know my family gathered, and we went through the motions, but other than that, I have no memories of the first year.

As the second year approached, I became very anxious about how to make the second Christmas a better one. We were in so much pain, but I desperately wanted there to be some joy. So being pragmatic, I started with the decorations. I thought – well, if I just spruce up the garland it will look more festive and that will help. But I didn’t have the energy or the talent to do the sprucing up. I went to a lady at the church (someone I didn’t know personally) with decorating talent and asked if she would help me spruce up the garland. She graciously accepted, and not only spruced up my garland but she transformed my home into a magical wonderland, worthy of the front cover of the most prestigious decorating magazine. It was breath taking. And a huge sacrifice! She worked in retail, so she was working 60-80 hours a week, six days a week, and then she came over to my house and worked for many hours, every day, for over a week.

It was a magnificent gift, but the story doesn’t end there. The next year God moved me to another city a five-hour drive away. And she drove to my new home and decorated it in the same magnificent fashion for our third Christmas without Dave. She was still working retail, so she would leave work, drive down, decorate non-stop for a day or two, and then drive back just in time to go to work.

This is the fifth year in a row she has done this. She has repeatedly given of her time and talents to the point she doesn’t even decorate her own home. It blows my mind that someone would do this, and it embarrasses me. It is so incredible, so sacrificial…it’s  extravagant.

I have learned to recognize this gift for what it is – a powerful example of Christ’s love, which is extravagant beyond comprehension. His love pierces the layers of protective coating I have put around my battered heart and breathes new life into me. It makes me want to shout from the rooftops… God’s love isn’t limited to just what’s practical, it isn’t limited to what we deserve, it isn’t even limited to what we can comprehend, GOD’S LOVE IS EXTRAVAGANT!

God has given us the best example of all time of His extravagant love. It started that very first Christmas.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.               

                                                                                                       John 3:16 ESV

Praying this season you will bask in His extravagant love!


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 article by this author? Heartwarming Conclusion

Want to read other  articles about God’s Love? Amazing Love by Lori Reynolds Streller

 

Kaleidoscope Vision

Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

                                                                                Mark 8:17-18 NIV

Harsh words!

Jesus rebuked the disciples because they failed to understand the meaning of His presence with them. They saw things from a human perspective, just what things looked like on the surface. They missed the bigger picture, the kingdom perspective.

How often do we do the same?

A couple of weeks ago I was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping. It was taking longer than expected, due to some road construction. Traffic was backed up for quite a while, but I was patient. The next day I had to do my grocery shopping. I didn’t worry about road construction since it was in a different direction than I had traveled the day before. SURPRISE, now they were working in that direction as well. I maintained my cool, but wondered – who plans to start multiple road construction projects in the same area, right before the holidays?

Finally, I was done with my errands and my Christmas shopping. The next day was Sunday and I planned a nice quiet day at home after church. I headed out at my usual time and yep, you guessed it, I encountered yet another new construction project. As I sat in the backed up traffic, I prided myself on the fact that I wasn’t demonstrating outright road rage at this point, because I HATE getting to church late.

Once again, I found myself pondering how anyone could do such poor planning regarding road construction projects. All I could “see” was the inconvenience to me. As I sat there, I watched the crew repeatedly pouring the hot tar and smoothing it out. Oh and the awful smell of that tar, I couldn’t imagine having to do a job that smelled so awful.

Eventually, my thoughts began to shift and I started to see things from a totally different perspective. It was like I had been looking through a kaleidoscope and the pieces had suddenly shifted into a beautiful new pattern. I began to see that the workers were not an annoyance, but they were servants who were serving. They were serving the community and serving me by performing a job that I couldn’t do, and wouldn’t want to do on my best day.

My heart started to fill with gratitude. I began thanking God for the workers and for providing them to serve. Thanking Him for being sovereign over everything – even the schedule of road construction projects. Thanking Him for living in me and bringing me back to a place of peace and gratitude. I was grateful for being reminded we often get trapped in seeing things from a human perspective, and it is a tremendous blessing when we see, hear, and remember the bigger picture, the kingdom perspective. He not only provides for our immediate needs, He brings us peace and Eternal Life. That is what He wanted His disciples to see then and it is what He wants His followers to see today! I pray that as we enter this holiday season our vision will shift to a kingdom perspective and our hearts will be overflowing with gratitude.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We praise you and worship you! Thank you for You! Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! We thank you for the gift of Your Son that we may have peace and Eternal Life! Help us to see, hear, and remember You. 

In Your Son’s Holy and Precious Name! Amen.

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 article by this author? Where Does My Help Come From?

Want to read other  articles about gratitude? Thankful Hearts &  That Day

God is Good-7

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

                                                                                                                                    1 John 3:16 NIV

Parades. Picnics. BBQ’s. The beginning of summer. Holiday. Family gatherings. Remembering our loved ones.

Are you celebrating?

Tomorrow we will observe Memorial Day, an American holiday which honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

How did the death of those who sacrificed their lives for us become a reason to celebrate?

Because, as painful as death is, love is bigger. Love conquers everything, even death.

God is love.

And God is good.

There is no greater love than to lay down your life for someone else. My heart is full of gratitude for the men and women who have died serving our country. They, and their families, have sacrificed greatly, putting their love into action for our country and for us. As widows who know death on a very personal level, we truly understand the cost. The terrible, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching, cost of losing someone.  The cost that never seems to end.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to talk about death and dying in the same breath when we are talking about God’s goodness and His love. The two seem totally incompatible, but they aren’t. In fact, God’s goodness and His love are most evident in death. The fact that He would humble Himself to become a man, to sacrifice His life on the Cross for our sins, so that we could be made Holy and live in fellowship with Him for all eternity, is the ultimate act of love. He paid the price, He saved us, He sealed us with the Holy Spirit so we could be transformed into His likeness.  Because of His love, we can lay down our lives for our brothers, just as the soldiers we are remembering this holiday have done.

He is a good, good, Father.

Will you please pray with me?

Dear Holy Father, we praise You for Your Goodness and for Your Love!  There is no greater love than to lay down Your life for us!  Father, today we lift up our brothers and sisters who have followed Your example, put their love into action and laid down their lives for our freedom. Please comfort their family and friends as we honor their sacrifice. Help all of us love sacrificially, for Your Glory! In Your Son’s Precious Name, Amen. 

~Sheryl


Other posts in our God is Good even if, even when, even still series: God is Good, God is Good-2, God is Good-3, God is Good-4, God is Good-5, & God is Good-6

 

Ultimate Valentine

Today, we want to remind you that no earthly love can ever compare to the love of our Heavenly Father.  May His love be ever present and tangible in your life.

God is our ultimate valentine.

And here are His love notes to us:

Psalm 68:5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Romans 8:38-39  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved.

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 Peter 5:6-7  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Job 34:19 who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor,  for they are all the work of his hands?

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Colossians 2:6-7  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.


Some additional encouragement for your day.

God is love. He didn’t need us. But He wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

Saving us is the greatest and most concrete demonstration of God’s love, the definitive display of His grace throughout time and eternity.  ~ David Jeremiah

God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.  ~ Jerry Bridges

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love Him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them.  ~ John Wesley

Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Other articles that will bless you: Happy Valentine’s Day, My Divine Valentine, Who is Your Valentine?

 

 

The Gift

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  

James 1:17

Another Christmas has come and gone.

The pressure of worldly holiday madness is behind us and we now lean toward the thoughts a new year may bring us.  We rush through these calendar days at mach speed, slowing down only to attend one of the many events penciled in.  After the parties, the musicals, the plays, the pageants, the cookie exchanges and the dinners are behind us, we are too weary to even reflect what was most special to us.

This year, I made a consecrated effort to slow down.  I did my best to remove myself from the commercialized version of Christmas and cherish the quietness of time off from work, having my daughters home and reflecting on the greatest gift any one of us can receive.

My quiet reflection began about two weeks before Christmas.  I was feeling rather blue one evening as I observed the beautiful connections of husband and wife duo’s on shopping outings. My mind slipped to visit Christmases past on the “kid” brought out in my husband.  I thought about how he always wanted a list for gift ideas and how he would always surprise me with one special unrequested item.  The thoughts brought sadness – oh how I missed those special gifts from a guy who thought I “hung the moon” and deserved so much.  I knew the best way to bust open this “blue balloon” was to spend time in God’s word.  Reaching into my night stand, I pulled out my husband’s Bible.  I opened the Word and that is when I found it. A list. Written in my husband’s handwriting and dated four months into his battle against cancer.

“Do I have anything to be thankful for?”

The tears fell as I read his recorded notations of what he appreciated even in the midst of a very great trial.  His entries centered around his salvation and that of his family.  I hungrily read his gratitude for so many things even while facing this unwanted journey.  Through my tears, I thanked God for allowing this “list” to appear at a moment I was feeling low.  It was a gift, delivered at the perfect time.  And it quickly made its way to the top of my most favorite tangible gifts of the season.

As days passed, I pondered on the graciousness of this list.  I knew my own list would have similar entries, but, in the heart of this Christmas season, I deeply reflected on the beauty of the greatest gift offered to mankind.

Grace.  Offered in the form of a baby come to earth.

Salvation.  Sins taken on the cross so we may have everlasting life.

Great love.  How can we not extend this same love?

Each time we let God love others through our faith, it is Christmas time.  Maybe Christmas doesn’t just happen one day a year – maybe it can happen all through the year.   Appreciation of what I have and the heirship into Christ’s family means my idea of Christmas has changed.  And it is so much more.  Yet, so simple –  loving others.  It comes in the form of a smile or offering a hand to some one.  It comes in form of actions, offering your heart of service to someone.  It comes at any moment on any given day.  It can be your gift to mankind.

I pray we all can find moments to share the gift of great love set forth some 2000 years ago.  I am setting my mind on sharing this gift throughout the coming year.  Won’t you join me?

Father, thank you for your Son and your love.  Thank you for opening my eyes to the great love you have for each of us.  Help us Lord, to serve You by serving others in love.  May we feel moments of “Christmas” all year long.  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 articles about Hope around the holidays;  “An Ordinary Day”  by Linda Lint or “Thankful Hearts” by Elizabeth Dyer

Christmas is Over: Is a Grinch Still Lurking?

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.

Proverbs 25:17 ESV

Are they singing  fal-hoom four way or fah-hume foray?

Each Christmas season as a child I watched the one airing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, anxiously waiting for the Hoo’s down in Hooville to sing their welcome Christmas song. Then the curious little writer in me would try to make out the words and get them on paper.

The one word in the opening line I settled on is foray.  It seemed to fit with a story like the Grinch. To foray, according to Webster’s dictionary, means to make a raid or brief invasion. That’s exactly what the Grinch was doing, so I envisioned the song-writer secretly putting foray in the opening line just for curious children to unravel the song’s riddle.

It never occurred to me that versions of the Grinch invade our Christmas season each year. But Christmastime,when widows are particularly vulnerable, others who are suffering from the loss of your husband may come to you, as a symbol of their loss, for closure. Dealing with the resulting “foray” into your life can be a daunting task.  I wrote about this in The Ornament Without a Hook.  You can read it here.

Here are some steps I’ve taken.  Perhaps they might help you as well.

G – Go to God for real truth

I try to rise above the fray of attack and simply turn to God’s truth. He’s in control, and He’s strong enough to heal hearts in this situation.

Scripture reference: “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3 ESV)

R – Rightly or wrongly, you will be judged. Accept it and don’t be afraid

My kids learned from a PBS cartoon called Lil Bill. His grandmother told him to say the meanest thing back to the kid who kept insulting him: “So?”.  When a grinch insults you with something that’s true, answer him or her, “So? Are you going to forgive me or what?”  Sometimes the accusation was put out there just to get a reaction. Use the most powerful response of all, silence.

Scripture reference:  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

I – Interrupt the Enemy – set the right boundaries

If someone tangles with you, find them resources to help what’s bothering them. For example, soon after my loss, while I struggled with helping myself and four boys through the grief, a beloved family member needed attention and guidance that I simply couldn’t give her. She needed a father-figure mentor like Tom.  I set up a small account and placed the control of the account in this mentor’s hands, letting all involved know that she always needs to go to him for advice before using the funds. His mentorship was invaluable and allowed me space to focus on the minor children.

Scripture reference: Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you. (Proverbs 25:17 ESV)

N – No Pride – Look in the mirror and don’t let pride cloud what you see

It’s easy to assume it’s the other person—that a loved one is acting out inappropriately–not you. When a loved one takes our inventory for us and tells us how awful we are, we want to reject it all. Accept that you aren’t perfect. Shroud yourself in the love of Christ to allow yourself to look in the mirror and not be horribly shaken by what you see. Then separate the false accusations from what needs to be owned and handled.

Scripture reference: “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” (Job 6:24 ESV)

C – Consider what you have on your plate

There are seasons in widowhood where you don’t need to tangle with someone who creates chaos. You’re going through loss in the worst way—he was your husband, your best friend.  You may have children to raise alone now or elderly parents to care for alone, or you may have his business affairs to wrap up or take on.  Just getting back on your feet is an ordeal!

When my loss was fresh, I had four little ones tugging at my feet. Older relatives who kept me on my phone had to learn not to overwhelm me.  When someone’s dependency and emotional needs get too large for you to take on along with the responsibilities you’ve been left with, it’s time to recognize you can’t do it all.

Scripture reference: But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. (Job 6:24 ESV)

H – Hallelujah, you can consider it all joy

In the New Testament, James tells us to consider all your struggles joy.  If you’re in a situation where your husband has died and others are mad about what you did with his car or his stocks or any other assets, you feel attacked.  Turn in the Bible when you’ve been wrongly accused. When we are falsely accused, sometimes the best response is gentleness.

Scripture reference: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (James 1:2 ESV)

Abba Father, would You give my sister enough gumption to kick satan out of her life and forgive those who don’t even realize they are spoiling her holiday season?  Help her grow to know You better day by day.  Amen.

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: anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about Christmas or Friendship?  Here are some articles you might try:

Entering the Holidays by Elizabeth Dyer

Gifts by Erika Graham

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective by Kit Hinkle

One Last Gift To Open

I always looked forward to my husband surprising me on Christmas morning with One Last Gift. He would keep one tucked away until everyone had opened their gifts. One year it was lovely leather gloves, another year it was carefully chosen earrings, and once it was a coveted kitchen mixer! Do you have some Christmas memories from your past? Maybe from childhood or as a young married couple? I hope you can smile through the tears as you are reminded of special gifts during this time of the year.

This Christmas, let’s see what One Last Gift God has for us, tucked away, until all the other presents are opened. The trash is cleared away. The clothes are set aside. What would He have for me?

Psalm 119:50 ESV   This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.

I want to “unwrap” this “gift” with you today, Sister.gfit

ThisWhat is? God’s promises, which are fulfilled in Christ, our Savior, Immanuel (God with US!).

IsToday, not just yesterday or someday. In my current circumstances.

MyThis is personal, for ME and for YOU and for us to share with others.

ComfortSounds like a cozy fluffy robe and slippers! Now that’s a gift I can wrap up in!

AfflictionTroubles, hurts, misery, distress. This is everyone who is living and breathing on earth. This happened before our widowhood, and it will happen after widowhood. That’s why we can give this verse to anyone for encouragement.

Your PromiseOur comfort is based in His Words and not in our bank account or our relationships or in the waiting for that healing that seems elusive. What promise has He given us to bring comfort during our most difficult times?

  • Dig into Scripture and the Psalms.
  • Write the little nuggets of truth down in your journal so you can look back and be encouraged.
  • Matthew 11:28
  • Jeremiah 29:11
  • Isaiah 40:29-31
  • Romans 8:37-39
  • Romans 6:23
  • 1 Peter 5:7
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Psalm 34:4

Give MeGod’s Word is not just for the preacher on the radio or TV or just for that skid row sinner. God’s Word is for ME; to convict me, to instruct me, to guide me, and to show me God’s character.

LifeReally? Live again after the biggest loss of my life? You might be the youngest widow on record and think your life is over. You might be the oldest widow on record and think you lived once but not now. Sister, life is today. You are given this day as a gift from your Maker. He gives us Scripture, like manna, for today. Our lives must still be lived because God is still giving us breath.

In a conversation with a friend recently, we were discussing ways we were able to be comforted by Scripture. During the first months of his loss, listening to Scripture on CDs at night helped him fall asleep. Falling asleep with the Psalms or another book of the Bible comforted his mind instead of rethinking medical decisions or focusing on the “what ifs”. What a practical way to allow God’s promises to comfort us in our affliction.

I love how God saves One Last Gift for us to open this day after our Christmas celebrations. You are loved. You are treasured. You are special. You are strong. You are His.

Lord God, thank You for Your promises to me from Your Scriptures. Give me perspective today on my circumstances. Help me turn to Your Word to comfort me and not relationships or food or other false comforts. Only You give true and lasting peace. Amen

 

 

Elizabeth Delizabeth 325x325yer is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries Inc.  She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, guinea pigs, and most recently, hermit crab keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and she loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.

 

Are you looking for more articles on digging into God’s Word? Drilling Him Into Your Hearts by Rene  OR  Searching for God’s Answers by Kit

Elizabeth has more articles on digging into God’s Word. You can read them here.

Would you like Elizabeth or one of our writers to speak at your next gathering? email us at admin@awnewseason.net