The Widow Painting

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

2 Corinthians 4:18

When you see this painting, what do you see?

A widow?

A busy mom?

A hard life with purpose?

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

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

Until I lost my husband.

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

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

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

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

Reaction 1: The Beautiful Heart of a Mother

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

Reaction 2: The Overly Busy Mother

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

Reaction 3: The Hard Life is Worth it

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

Reaction 4: Silly Woman Works too Hard!

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

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

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

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

Lord God,

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


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

You might also like these posts by our team:

The Widow Card

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

Fake it Till You Make it–No!

 

Always of Good Courage – Day 1,826


Always of good courage

1,826 days since my husband took his final breath.

 

Please indulge me as I take time to ponder. How would he see us on this five year anniversary?

There are certain things I know without a doubt. You may recognize some of them in your own circumstance.

He would be:

SURPRISED how much has changed in the world since he was alive, even small things like changes to our city roadways.

I had one of those irrational moments that makes sense only to those who experience grief. One day as I viewed massive changes to the interstate close to our home I began to panic. I worried he wouldn’t recognize how to get home. I then remembered he would never need that information again.

 

PROUD of the accomplishments of our children.

His coworkers mentioned repeatedly during visitation how often he talked about his family. They spoke of how he hurried to get back home to us when he traveled. One sorrow that never fades is that he cannot be physically present for milestones with our children now. However, they can be assured he would be bursting with pride and giving big hugs if he could be there.

 

THRILLED to know his grandson and future grandchildren!

He looked forward to spoiling grands. Though none of them will ever meet him here on earth they will still know who he was and what he loved. Papa G is present in photos and videos. He is mentioned often with love and laughter — he will not be forgotten.

 

PLEASED that I have been always of good courage from the day of his death to the present, have walked by faith, drawn strength from God’s word, and encouraged other widows to do the same.

He loved to serve. He supported anything I pursued, and it made him happy when we helped others. During our last prayer together, he asked God,  “Please shine Your light through my family and through me”. God has done that abundantly and the prayer continues to be answered.

 

HAPPY to know God provided a wonderful man to be my new husband.

Before his first military deployment we argued. He had the nerve to suggest that he would want me to marry again if he died. I adamantly stated it was NOT going to happen! He gently took my face, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You have too much love to give to be alone for the rest of your life. I would want you to remarry.”

I don’t think either of us believed it would become a reality; even twenty years later I did not. I had no intention of obeying his wishes when I found myself alone. But God’s timing is perfect and after almost three years as a widow, He opened my heart to the possibility of new love, then brought an incredible man into my life in a way that was clearly from Him. My first husband got his wish.

 

CONTENT to be exactly where he is right now.

 

Without a doubt,

nothing would entice him to return to this life.

 

He has been in the presence of the Lord every day for the past 1,826 days.

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

 

The Apostle Paul says,

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

 

Lord, while we remain here please help us to walk by faith and not by sight. We want to be always of good courage as we rely on Your direction in our daily lives, through Your word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please make us to continue to shine as a reflection of Your love. Amen.


   Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Articles with a similar theme:   Piece By Piece  or Walk This

What Can I Do?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

                                                                                                                   Isaiah 26:3 ESV

 

My whole world is upside down. Why am I still here?

These thoughts and many like them can run through our minds time and time again.

We often question our purpose when our lives, and what we thought our futures would be, have changed so drastically. But the truth is, the purpose of our lives, the reason we have been created, hasn’t changed. We are created by Him, for His glory.

I am so broken. How could I possibly bring Him glory?

Today in all your brokenness, can you imagine doing something so powerful, so significant that it would be worthy of being included in God’s Word? Every day you choose to trust God, you are doing something that worthy, powerful and significant. You are following Christ, just like the woman in the crowd who reached out and grabbed His cloak – because she trusted He was who He said He was. (story told in Mark 5:25 -34) Trusting Him brings Him glory and it brings you peace.

I have nothing left to give. What can I give?

I love that Jesus used a widow to teach the world what it means to give. (story told in Luke 21:1-4) The world teaches us to give when we have extra. Jesus teaches us that to truly love someone means you are willing to give everything. He demonstrated this when He gave His Son to die on the Cross for us. As widows, worldly things no longer seem as important and we find ourselves able to focus more on the eternal. As we focus on God, giving everything -all of us – becomes our goal and our actions can become the example for the world. We are perfectly positioned to teach the world how to give.

I’m just a widow. What can I do?

Unfortunately, the title widow usually conjures up the image of someone who is washed up and needs to be taken care of, with nothing to give. And if we allow it, that can happen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have Christ living in us. He is our strength. And in many ways, because of our circumstances we are in a better position than ever to do what God has called us to do.

We are in the refiner’s fire and we have a better grasp of what is truly important, so we can encourage others to have an eternal focus.

We are persevering through many trials and God is making us mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2) so we can disciple others with what God is teaching us.

We are drawing closer to God and He is drawing closer to us so we can teach others about God’s character.

We can pray more intimately because our faith has grown and we know our God cares.

We can speak God’s truth into others lives, because we have lived it and we have seen the fruit that obedience brings.

We can face the giants of this world because we know where our strength comes from.

We can change the world by telling the story of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

We can love as God loves, giving everything we have.

We can trust Him in all circumstances which will bring Him glory!

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for loving us the way You do. Thank You for creating us for a purpose – to glorify You so that we can encourage others to come to know You. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who lives in us and gives us the strength we need. Please give us opportunities to pray more faithfully, speak Your truth more boldly, love more deeply, give more completely and share the story of Your faithfulness in our lives, all for Your Glory.   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? Draw Closer

Want to read another article about trust? Two Years and Trusting in Him

The Joy of the Lord!

Pursuing Joy by Lori Streller

The joy of the Lord is [my] strength. Nehemiah 8:10 {KJ21}

Do you ever feel like you are chasing joy?

As if it is elusive, always just beyond your reach?

Well, if Christ is your personal Lord and Savior, you can rest in this:

Joy is attainable because it resides inside of you already.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22 lists it as evidence of the Holy Spirit within us.

Successful “pursuit” begins in the quiet stillness of being with the Source of all joy.

My life has had ups and downs; intense heartaches, burdens to bear, and obstacles to overcome.  I’m not sharing about joy from a life free of struggle.

I’ve learned my joy is not dependent on a neat and tidy life.

Joy wells up within us from the deepest part of our soul, spilling itself all over us and those near us.  It sets the tone for our attitude.  Joyful hearts alter our perspective.  They hone in on God’s goodness.

Joy should be evident in every believer’s life.  Are you tapping into your joy?  Is your mind trained on looking for the goodness of God?

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” Galatians 5:25 {NIV}

Friends, with Christ’s power living in us, we have access to indescribable Joy!

Think on that truth: let it sink down into the depths of your being.  Joy is ours!

Pursue it.

Claim it.

Thrive in it.

Regardless of what life is throwing at you.  Train your heart on joy.

How?

Sometimes we may feel trapped in an endless cycle of sorrow and self-pity.  It happens.  Don’t beat yourself up over where you are if this is you.  Instead, start pursuing joy now.  Here are a few steps to get you started:

Be still.

Set aside time each day to rest in the presence of God.  Focus on Him.  Pour out your heart to Him and then sit in silence as He fills your empty, broken places with more of Himself.

Look for the positive.

This requires asking God to make you aware of instantaneous negative thoughts that march through your mind.  With each one, stop and replace it with a positive thought.

Find the humor.

Laughter heals.  It just does.  A woman who can laugh at herself and life will radiate joy.

Focus on gratitude.

There is always the choice to be grateful.  Look for the reasons.  Praise God for them.

Meditate on Scripture. 

Here are a few to get you started:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”  1 Peter 1:8 {NIV}             

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13 {NIV}

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2 {NIV} 

Father God, You have laid this on my heart to share, but I know full well that it is a lesson You have prepared for me as well.  Thank You for the gift of joy that came with the Holy Spirit at our salvation.  Remind us when we fail to let that joy bubble up from within.  It’s there Lord, you’ve already given it to us.  Help us to make the pursuing of it a habit in our lives.  Amen. 


To read another great article about joy, click here for I Choose Joy by Bonnie.

 

Draw Closer

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

                                                                                                                John 16:7 ESV

I AM SICK OF DEATH!

Raw, heartfelt words exchanged with one of my closest friends this week as we tried to deal with the loss of one of our young friends. Our friend entered the gates of heaven after a tragic car accident while traveling home from a holiday visit with family. Our hearts are broken once again as we dwell on thoughts of the devastation and loss her husband and two young kids are experiencing. Once again, it just feels like too much. Way too much!

When I am struggling, I sometimes think about the disciples and their journey. This week as I struggled to deal with yet another death, I found myself almost envious of their time with Jesus. The disciples had the opportunity to walk with Jesus in the flesh, face-to face, every day. Wouldn’t it be easier if we could see Him in the flesh? To have a tangible, visual reminder He is with us? Would it change things for me?

If Jesus were here in the flesh, I don’t think I would sit in front of Him and tell him I feel so alone, it would seem silly if He was sitting right there. I don’t think I would do many of the things I do. Can you imagine binge watching the latest reality show with our Lord and Savior sitting in the room?  My guess is I would scurry around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to serve Him until eventually the light bulb would come on and I would remember the story of Martha and Mary. Then hopefully, I’d finally sit at his feet and totally immerse myself in His presence. I wouldn’t want any distractions. Ahhh, if only He were here in the flesh…

It is sad how off track we can get in our thinking. Why would I ever want Jesus in the flesh when what I have is SO MUCH MORE! JESUS LIVES IN ME! I never, ever have to do this alone! One of the most powerful lessons we can learn from the disciples is we can never be faithful enough or close enough to God on our own – even if Jesus were physically standing right in front of us as He was with the disciples. God’s plan is bigger and so much more. His plan was to send the Helper -the Holy Spirit.

To dwell in us.

                                So we could draw closer.

                                                                                                To Him.

I hate death, but at the same time I recognize it is a powerful time to see God at work.  In the midst of the devastation, we tend to falter, show our weakness, and the Helper becomes more visible. If we know Him, we recognize it is He who helps us draw closer. Maybe not in the way we would have thought or in the time-frame we wished it had happened, but He is there. Always. Helping. Drawing us closer.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Father, we praise You for who You are. You are the creator of the Heavens and the Earth and You are our Creator. Father, we thank You for loving us and giving us Eternal Life with You. We thank You for the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. We thank You for helping us to draw closer. In Your Son’s precious and holy 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? Extravagant Love

Want to read other  articles about drawing close to God? I Choose You, Lord by Teri Cox

 


 

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

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

Checking That Box

Today we share a post written several years ago by a dear sister, Danita.  We pray her words will encourage you.  Even though we are in this hard place, God is here and He gives us His Word to remind us of His faithfulness.  Join us as we share Danita’s encouragement.


A Box I Did Not Choose by Danita Hiles

When my husband Dave died – the hardest thing for me to get used to was the ‘box marked widow’. I must have filled out 500 forms during the paperwork process, and on every one had to check that box for marital status. Widow. Widow. WIDOW!!! Ugh. This word was (is) hard for me to embrace.

The government had decided this was my label. My bank. My doctor’s office. My kid’s school. My tax returns. Over and over again I was forced to check the box marked widow.

I wanted to scream – this is not me! This is not who I want to be. I want to be wife. Partner. Helpmate. Sister. Daughter. Mother . Friend.

Instead I was in a box. A box I didn’t like. A box I didn’t choose. A box marked ‘widow’. Ugh.

In those early desperate days I asked God for something to hold onto from His word. I opened a devotional to a reading about Psalm 16 and the words literally jumped off the page at me. ‘This is my portion and my cup’ (vs. 5) . Essentially, in today’s language – ‘it is what it is’.

When the miracle doesn’t happen and the doctor’s news is grim and the relationship isn’t restored and you are standing in a cemetery, sometimes it simply ‘is what it is’. But oh, the sweet words of the next verse: ‘He will make the boundaries fall for me in pleasant places…’ In spite of today’s ugly reality, we have His word on it that He alone is charge of the boundaries of our life. Nothing happens to us out of reach of His loving hand.

So then how do we walk through this valley ? The next few verses of Psalm 16 are pretty clear with three ‘I wills’ to guide us; I will always set the Lord before me… I will praise the LORD, who counsels me. And finally, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Even on difficult days like this early journal entry depicts:

Sometimes the feelings of grief and loneliness are so strong that I feel as though

I am drowning.

The impossibility of this day-to-day reality without Dave

Makes it even hard to breathe.

today it is a never ending frustration with things.

things that break.

things that cost money.

things that can’t be fixed.

things that i am the only one responsible for cleaning and organizing and remembering.

There’s only one grown-up in the house now
and she’s really tired.

mommy, mommy, mommy,

can you? did you? would you?

thoughts of the future spiral ahead

will it be any different

one month

one year

five years from now?

will there be more mommy to go around?

will I finally have gotten a handle on this reality and become organized

and be the mature woman of God I have admired in others?

Will I ever come to grips with the word widow.

And single mother.

And always having leftovers because most recipes are designed to feed a family of four.

And we are no longer that.

God knows.

Tonight there is just me and these words
and His words to me

And when all else fails, and the world is crumbling,

I can stand on His word….

Years later…I’m still standing!

Psalm 16 ends with this promise:

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Precious friends – we may never know the answer to life’s hard questions, especially the whys of God’s timing surrounding those we love. But He has promised us His joy on this earth and eternity with Him. My box still says widow , but my Bible says He is with me, and my future is in His hands. I choose to praise Him. I choose to set Him before me. I choose to allow him to fill me with joy in his presence and live out loud as long as I have breath!


Other articles with a similar theme: It Is What It Is & God is Faithful

To learn more about our ministry visit us at www.awidowsmight.org

 

Unexplainable Joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

1 Peter 1:8

How do I explain unexplainable joy?

It eases my pain.

It gives me strength to walk away every time something tries to take the place of God in my life.

Like when He gave me strength to say no to an insincere suitor. I felt a thousand angels trumpeting their horns as I chose genuine goodness over this man’s looks and prestige.

And when I closed the web browser before spending over my budget on designer clothes. At that moment I felt Him place on me a joyful royal robe. It was a peace more satisfying than any temporary buzz of the world’s acceptance.

Do know you can’t grab that joy yourself? When He decides to give it to you, He readies you for it.

It starts when you turn away from what the world has to offer and turn to Him for what He has to offer. Giving up the guy or the dress humbled my heart, making it ready to receive what the Scripture had to offer–a reminder that everything will be made right.

All of it. He’ll mend every broken heart, deal with every wrong and expose every lie.

Even my own.

Because I’m included in it all. When a friend lets me down, I forgive because He forgave me when I let Him down.

He will fix it all, heal it all, make it all whole. Knowing that brings me joy, and I need do nothing but rest in this unexplainable joy.

That joy didn’t just land in my heart. The Lord had to show it to me, and I had to accept it.

Years ago, even before I lost my husband, there was a time when I suffered a huge set back in life. My first husband was abandoning our marriage just as I was feeling pressure at work due to a corporate merger I had no control over. I felt shocked that my life had been flipped on its head.  Desperation set in as soon as the shock wore off. All I could ask was why me?

Others tried to share their stories of trusting God and feeling joy, but I wouldn’t listen. I thought, who wants to be one of those downtrodden people who had to ask for God’s comfort? I didn’t want comfort!  I wanted my old life back—the security and prestige.

I bumped and jostled through my self pity until it started to occur to me that sitting in self-pity for too long was everything but obedient to God, and wanting everything my way, the way it was before, was not accepting God’s will, and that was sin. Eventually my pride fell way, and I surrendered my self-pity, replacing it with hope. There had to be something better waiting out there than my old life.  With a new anticipation in my heart, I finally said it: “Give me what You have, Jesus—I WANT IT!”

Are you worn down by your loss?  Have you mourned for so long you don’t remember what it felt like to feel joy in your heart?  Can you reach back to that time as a child when you felt joy in your heart?

Do you want that now?

Then throw open your heart to Him.  Humble yourself.  Take what you’ve been using to replace God in your life and give it to Him. Let Him give you unexplainable joy.

Sometimes you feel like everything has been taken away from you. Maybe for you the word “everything” is reality. Maybe when you lost your husband, you also lost financial security, social networks and the leadership you needed for decision-making.

If you’ve lost what feels like everything, make HIM your everything!

In reality, He IS everything.  You can’t escape Him. You can only shrug Him off, and that hurts no one but you.

He wipes your tears. He can even find a way for your bills to be paid. He can bring you that fellowship when you need it.

And you need it. So ask for it.

That unexplainable joy.

Jesus,

If there is a sister out there stuck in her grief and has cried so many tears she doesn’t know how to get herself up, would You give her a peak at Your greatness to a point where she wants more of what she saw and begin demanding that unexplainable joy?  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:

Where’s your “brave”?

Why we Have Hope

Our Hope

I Choose Joy

These things I have spoken to you,

that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

(John 15:11  ESV)

I find it startling at times, the number of people who make comments to me about how I have handled this walk of grief since my husband’s passing. Startling, because they seem to paint a picture I feel I am not. Inspirational. Admirable. Amazing. Polished. Refined. Whoa. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill! Descriptive words I can assure you, I feel anything but. Fearful. Weak. Confused. A hot mess. Now, you’re talking! That is how I view myself.

However, there is one word that not only calls me to self-examination, but also, calls me to embrace and seek to achieve.

Joyful.

Joyful in the sorrow?

When people ask me why I can still be joyful even in this walk of widowhood and the addition of several other trials, I know my reply can only point to my Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual joy is a gift and it should be our desire to rejoice in the Lord at all times. Even in the trials and tribulations.

I wish I could say I always fulfill this descriptive word. I can not. So, I often examine where I am and evaluate where God wants me. Recent events have caused me to feel the JOY in my life deflating as quickly as a balloon pricked by a pin. I have come to the realization it is the invasion of these pesky annoyances that can wreak havoc on our joy. However, I know this is the worldly way. The worldly view of joy is fickle and temporary. It is a joy that comes and goes based on our circumstances. This joy pales in comparison to the true joy only God can give us. It is not a feeling – it is our choice whether we embrace this joy God desires for us.

Whenever people truly know, love and worship God, He instills a joy that only He can put into the hearts of worshipers. It is not based on circumstances or objects. Whatever we are going through, this joy can not be taken away. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10 we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. I believe as followers of Christ, no matter how dark our season of sadness is, we are never completely without joy in God, if only a remembered taste of its goodness.

Trust me. I need to hear this reminder daily. Sometimes the heaviness of life’s challenges can bear down so intensely, it is easy to let it zap the joy out of us. Problems. Hurting hearts. Loneliness. Health concerns. Financial woes. Single parenting. These circumstances are real and they are challenging.

But, I know I must trust God is my strength and comfort no matter the situation. I will choose to rejoice always. I will remember I am a daughter of the King and apart from Him there can be no joy.

We are forgiven children of God and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. That alone is worth shouting for joy.

Father, thank You for Your promise to always be our strength and comfort in all situations. May we find our way to “rejoice always” even in the hard times. Yes, Lord, may we choose Your gift of Joy so others can see You in us. Amen


img_2753 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 “Joy” shared by Elizabeth and Kit.