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!

 

When Things Aren’t What They Seemed

Secrets.

What do we do with hurtful information we find out about our late husbands?

Recently we received a private message from one of our readers about a very difficult subject. She had discovered some damaging information about her husband after his death. How should she handle this situation?

I had a similar discussion with a friend a while back. She had discovered some information about her late husband that was quite disturbing. It colored everything. Totally shocking.

Her children were young adults when their father passed away after a lengthy illness. The couple had fallen in love in college and had weathered the storms of church disappointments, addiction, job loss, raising children, and moving across country. But now that he was gone, one of her children shared some information about Dad. Her stomach felt sick thinking her husband could have been so horrible to their child, thinking about her child living with the secret pain for many years. She asked me what she should do.

Praying fervently in my heart before proceeding, I said,  “Lord, I don’t even know what to say. Guide my words, please.” 

As widows, what do we do with information about our husbands after they are gone? Mysterious credit card receipts. Suspicious or even pornographic websites on his computer. Surprise allegations he physically abused one of the grandchildren or other children. Could he have been involved in something illegal? Life insurance never purchased after years of pestering, and now bankruptcy? Some of our widows were separated from their husbands at the time of their sudden deaths. 

We can’t confront them now, so what do we do with the information?

Forgiving might be hardest when the recipient isn’t alive.

You have probably heard many quotes about forgiveness -like holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We are killing ourselves when we don’t extend forgiveness to someone.

If we look at Scripture, we can start with a well-known passage like the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.  Here in the Amplified Version, we find these words in verse 12.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.

In my experience, I have more joy in my life when I release the other person from the debt I have placed on them. The past is the past, and we can’t change what happened. We can change how we go forward from this point. We are all sinners. And extending the same forgiveness to a spouse, even after his death, opens up the pathway for God’s forgiveness toward us. (Colossians 3:13)

And since RELEASE is my word for 2017, I keep my eyes open for ways to use it in every situation.

Is there a debt you are carrying that needs to be released? Let’s not wait another day to release someone from the chains of unforgiveness. It ISN’T easy – sometimes we need to meet with a trained counselor, pastor, or even an attorney. But it IS possible.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Matthew 6 :11-12 ESV

When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins. Mark 11:25 NCV

Forgiveness isn’t something we do for someone else, especially when they aren’t around any more. Forgiveness is something we do for OURSELVES.

Father God, help us be quick to forgive. Release us from the bondage of grudges and unforgiveness. Thank You for Your example of forgiveness in our lives. Help us to be aware of Your Holy Spirit moving in our hearts to forgive someone. Amen


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

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. 

Here’s another article from Kit and a guest blogger about betrayal and forgiveness. 

 

 

 

 

Love’s Eternal Origin

“We love because He first loved us.”

– 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

My love for my husband did not die with him. I bet you can say the same thing about your husband, and there is a good reason for that!

Real love, the giving kind, reflects the nature of God.

“God is Love,” and He created us in His image. (1 John 4:8, Gen. 1:27)

Love has an eternal origin. The very fact we grieve mirrors the love we carry beyond our husband’s deaths.

We miss. We regret. We long.

We grieve because LOVE acutely feels death’s forced separation. My husband was my better half. It would not be an exaggeration to say for a good while I felt amputated, incomplete, and my life a dismembered place. I experienced the conflict of hating that my beloved was gone but also not wanting him with me to continue suffering.

No wonder Jesus came because the agony of separation from a loved one is abhorrent—totally unacceptable and an offense to love. God did not want that eternal distance—like a vast ocean of darkness to get between us. He wanted us close and that’s what love wants… to be close.

Because of love’s eternal origin, death separated me from my husband but cannot separate me from my love for him. While the eternal origin of love shines in this, grieving is incredibly painful, complex, and layered. Triggers, like land mines, lay in wait for us.

While, “never again” thoughts are triggered by countless associations, very intensely at first, acknowledging and talking with God about them helped. What didn’t help was dwelling on them. If I did, it was like digging a pit and jumping in. Grieving is difficult enough without that!

Despite the pain and sorrow now, never would I have missed the love and tapestry of our lives together.

You and I know who and what we miss, but what future good do we anticipate? Future plans with my husband were banished in the instant he exhaled his last breath. However, “we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corin. 5;7 (ESV). Eyes of FAITH are crucial to move forward and faith needs to nestle into Truth.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.” – Rms. 8:35, 37-39 (ESV)

As widows, we share an experience and understanding. Life as we knew it changed instantly. Yet, while life has altered so much, it is comforting that:

The future holds the promise of God’s love, tomorrow and always. God’s love is never-ending, never-changing, and forever true.  Faith is our secure anchor into His love and a sacred place to exhale.

Lord God, thank You that we love because You first loved us. Whether our hearts feel battered, parched, numb, or tentative, meet us there and refuel us with Your love. We are created to love You and one another. Use us still,  for the world needs nothing more than Your healing love. Thank You, that we are able to cherish love for our husbands as a true gift from You, Lord Jesus.


Janene @ Myrtle Beach

Janene lives in the Dallas area, surrounded by her children, their sweethearts, two grandchildren, and a host of wonderful friends.  Janene married her beloved Frank in 1972 and enjoyed 40 precious years with him. Four months after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, Frank lost his rigorous battle against bladder cancer. Frank left a void so vast, it was like a black hole which threatened to swallow Janene whole. However, God’s faithfulness has been exceptional. As a retired minister at a local church, she spends her time painting, mentoring, serving in Stephen Ministry leadership, and seeks to trust Christ in this new season of life.

Forgetting the Past: A Memory Wipe or Living in the Present?

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…”     Philippians 3:13 (TLB)

This verse from Philippians has been going through my mind for quite some time.  I must admit, most days I would rather push it aside and not think about it!

My first impression of this passage was, in order to move or look forward to what lies before me on this journey, I must forget my past! 

But, what if I do not want to “forget the past” and “look forward”?  

I don’t want to “forget” the many years my husband and I shared together.  I don’t want to forget the times we had together (good and bad), his smile, his voice, his touch, the warmth and safety I felt when he wrapped his arms around me, and so much more.  I just want it like it was before my husband died!

My husband and I were happy and looking forward to growing old together.  Oh, our lives were full of challenges, just like many of you experienced, but together, and with God’s help, we were able to face each challenge, one at a time.  Honestly, I had never given any thought of facing life without him.

However, as I continue to move through the many stages of grief connected with this journey, I know that things will never be the same.  I can’t go back.  If I am going to survive, I must “move forward”.

Do I know what that will involve?  No, but I know I must trust God and take one step at a time!  I also know He loves me and is holding my right hand, guiding me with His wisdom and counsel.

As time passes, I find the intensity of my grief is not nearly as great as it was in the beginning.  I am still very sad my life here on earth will never be the same, and there will always be an “ache” in my heart for my husband that no one else can ever fill.  In spite of all those feelings, I am finding God is allowing me to begin to move forward.  He is giving me the courage to try and do things I never would have ever considered doing before my husband passed away.

I am also realizing I do not have to “forget” the past I shared with my husband.  I can keep in my heart the memories and love we shared.  They are mine, and no one can take them away from me! 

I do not believe Paul was advising a “memory wipe” when he says, “forgetting what is behind.”  I believe he was telling us to not live in the past, but to focus on the present and the future.  We are to  “press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

When I am honest with myself, my life has always been full of “moving forward” and making many changes.  Making the transition and crossing these bittersweet thresholds was usually an anguished and sticky passage, but somehow, it seemed to be easier with my husband by my side.

Many years ago, I came across an article which I have kept in my wallet to remind me of leaving the old and embracing the new.  I do not even remember what challenge I was facing at the time I read this, and I certainly never imagined that I would ever apply it to the loss of my dear husband.  These words have meant a lot to me the past few months:

“No matter what you are leaving, scoop from the ashes every brightness – the cherished lessons and experiences, the love that can burn a lifetime.  Take these things with you, and toss the rest bravely to the wind.”

Lord, it’s so difficult to let go of the past and to move forward.  Thank You for the memories I can keep forever. Help me not to live in the past, but, give me the strength and desire to continue to move forward and press toward the goal to win the prize which God has set before me!    Amen


*this article first appeared as Forgetting the Past by the late Karen Emberlin on March 12, 2015

But If Not: Deliverance, Doubts, and Devotion

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.  Daniel 3:17-18 ESV

God, I know You CAN heal my husband…

God, I know You are ABLE to heal this marriage…

God, I know You are STRONG ENOUGH to protect my children from evil influences…

Have you prayed similar prayers?

My doubts never come because I think God isn’t ABLE to do something. My doubts come because I don’t think He WOULD for me. Does He love me? Does He love them more? 

Here in our passage above, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death.

Facing. Death.

They were looking it square in the eyes.

They had no options.

Worship of the True God was not up for discussion, and they knew He was able to “deliver” them. What were they thinking that word meant? Rescue them? Make the fire go out? Probably all kinds of things went through their heads, but I’m guessing NOTHING like what really happened. You can read the full chapter here.

As a result of their hearts being so full of devotion to Jehovah God, they knew even if they were not swept off in a story-book rescue, they would not worship the false gods. They knew they would follow God even into the fire. 

Where was Daniel?  He was their leader. He was the strong one in the bunch.

Have you ever felt that God took the “strong one” in your life- your husband? I hear widows say often – I lost my rock, I lost my leader, I lost my spiritual guide.  But what did these three young men do when faced with the worst possible situation?  They proclaimed their faith. Loud. And. Strong. They had been led well by Daniel. They knew the Truth. And they received something far greater than their friend’s spiritual guidance. They gained an encounter with God right in the middle of the furnace! God was the fourth man in the fire, bringing the king to see the Truth.

That hit me right between the eyes.

I was led by a man who knew God deeply. I had a spiritual guide. He was a strong influence in my life. Now it has been removed. Can I now proclaim my faith loud and strong? Am I able to stand up to adversity so others see God through my life? Do I know God enough to depend on Him during my trials?

So when the worst possible thing happens

and the “rug is pulled out from under” us,

can we STAND? 

 

If our prayers for healing seem to go unanswered,

can we keep trusting?

 

When the fires of life seem to be lapping all around us,

can we bravely stand and say,

“Even if God doesn’t deliver us from the fires,

we will still follow”?

 

Has your strong person of influence been removed from your life? Are you being tested by the “fires” of life today? What or who are you trusting in?

From the passage in Daniel, we do NOT read that the three friends pulled the covers over their heads, crying out, “If only Daniel were here! He would know what to do!” Nope, they bravely stood strong on their convictions and knew exactly what they needed to do.

I need to follow the example of these young men–  stand strong on what I know is true about God and follow Him. Sometimes that will lead me into “fires” only He can deliver me from in a grand way. And sometimes our delivery comes only after we have lived through the flames, scorched and stinking of smoke. My life circumstances do not alter the fact that God loves ME. He is the “fourth” person in the furnace with ME. 

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the influences of strong believers in our lives. Help us when we are tested and tried, to bravely stand strong on the truth of Scripture and not on our feelings. When doubts come our way, lead us back to Your Word even if we are not delivered in the way we expect or desire. Amen

 

I heard this wonderful song recently that really spoke to this subject. I hope you enjoy it. Even If by Mercy Me.  The words are amazing. Another song from a few years ago is by Kutless, also called Even If.   And if you like the idea of dancing in that fire, you will enjoy this song by Jordan Feliz.

 


 

Elizabeth Kay Dyer

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. 

Are you finding that you are missing the role your husband played? You can read articles here.

If you want inspiration and vision for your future, you can click here. 

 

 

Might as Well Do Something

This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.

Job 6:10 (ESV)

How does he do it? The enemy, I mean.

How does satan take a beautiful heart and twist it into his shape, convincing her to reject God and His promises?

He gives her a “fur-lined pity-pot”–that’s how. God-knows where that little phrase came from, but I’ve heard it kicked around in recovery circles. It’s that cozy spot where she curls up like a cat and licks her wounds.

He tells her it’s the safest spot to park herself.

But it’s not!

How many of us have spent at least a season of our time as widows spinning over our painful circumstances, wanting a better life for ourselves, but stuck in a pit of despondency.

There’s a better way. Kick the devil in the rear by rejecting self-pity.

Oh, the joy you will feel when you reject satan.

The impact you will make!  The reward – the everlasting reward to be secure in your place with God and in Heaven!

And while we know there are rewards in stopping the self-pity, we can’t just rid ourselves from it without replacing it with a new mindset.

Try this one: Remember this world–this life–these struggles that seem unending–are but a blink of an eye compared to eternity.

And what feels like a curse to have to suffer in this life has its rewards. Because with discomfort, you are never lulled into leaning on the luxuries of this world for security. Rather, you look to the eternal security of your precious loving Abba Father to walk you through every dark valley.

Job in the Old Testament saw this Truth, even in his misery.  After losing ten children, all his material possessions, and the support of his wife and friends, he sat alone, covered in painful boils. And in his misery he did something remarkable.  He praised God. Just listen to his words: “This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:10 ESV).

Job had it right. Sitting idle for too long doesn’t get you any further out of your misery. Do something. If you can’t seem to do anything, start like Job did by praising God.

And if you can’t seem to use words to praise God, try action.

Think of it this way: You are miserable anyway.  Might as well get something done while you’re at it! Take action! Here’s why:

  • Actions before feelings – Our culture screams for you to give in to feelings.  Don’t!  Move your body and use your mind as if you were hopeful and joyful, and your heart will resonate with those actions and feel joy again!
  • It honors your Maker – It screams to the enemy, I will not let my loss render me useless, and draws you closer to God and His purpose!
  • Results – You grieve whether you remain idle or start cleaning, but a week later, your house is uncluttered. Accomplishing a task puts a lift in your step.

Abba Father,

Give my sister that small nudge to step out of her fur-lined pity-party. Help her at least get up and begin tidying the world around her as a way of acknowledging You are there and she loves You and knows You love her. Embrace her as she takes small steps and please grow that security in her heart. Thank You, Jesus. 


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:

The Upward Kick

Just One Step

Stepping Outside the Boat

Will We Choose Misery or Ministry?

No one would willingly choose this widow path we have been assigned to walk. It is a painful, definitive part of our whole journey, no matter what the future holds. In an instant every choice we had about the direction of life with our husband was taken out of our grasp; however, we do still have at least one choice to make about the direction of our life going forward — whether we will respond to our circumstance by living a life of misery or ministry.

As a new widow, the pain is overwhelming. Understandably, we may not envision a time when we will have the ability to help others as we so badly need others to minister to our needs and those of our family members. In the early days it takes every bit of strength and focus just to process what goes on around us from minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day; but at some point  as the fog clears and healing begins, opportunities to serve people outside of our family will present themselves. At that time, we choose to either remain focused only on self and the misery of our loss or to begin focusing on others and how we can minister to them.

It has been like medicine to my soul to meditate on passages of Scripture that encourage me to focus on something beyond the pain of my own circumstance and to recognize opportunities to practice serving others. One such passage expresses the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

From this we can see at least eight things that can encourage us. We are

  1. to rejoice
  2. to let our reasonableness be known to everyone
  3. not to be anxious about anything
  4. to let our requests be known to God through prayer, with thanksgiving
  5. to know that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
  6. to think on the positive list of things given in this passage
  7. to practice what we learned in this passage
  8. and when we do practice these things, he says the God of peace will be with us.

It is natural and beneficial to grieve at our own pace; but it is detrimental to wallow in grief, both to us and to those around us. Just as with open wounds, we need to apply the medicine that will help us to heal, even though scars will remain. Wounds that remain open can fester, cause infection, and decay. Scars can be a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness to bring healing and purpose to our lives and can be instrumental in helping others to heal as well.

What will we choose? Misery or ministry?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21 (ESV)

Lord, please bring us all to a place of healing from the pain of loss, leaving only the scars that testify to Your mercy and goodness in carrying us through our trials. You have promised us Your peace that surpasses all understanding and You have promised to be with us when we practice what we have learned. Please help us choose ministry over misery so that we can be used to minister to other people for Your glory. 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: Breathing In HopeNew Paint

This Isn’t What I Planned

WE HAD PLANS.

My husband Michael and I were going to have at least two children and possibly adopt a third. We were going to continue traveling the world, start a nonprofit, raise our children together, become grandparents, grow old and grey together. We were just 31 and had our entire lives ahead of us.

But what happens when our plans don’t align with the Lord’s plans or what He allows for our lives?

I have always known that being a Christian does not make me immune to the troubles of this world, but I never imagined that suicide would impact my life. I never imagined becoming a widow and sole parent at 31. It just wasn’t part of my plan.

But it happened.

And when it did, I begged and pleaded with God for another way for His will to be done until I surrendered to His will and not mine.

It can be difficult to understand when our hopes and dreams for this life don’t go along with what actually happens, bringing doubt and questions. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old son is questioning how his father is not part of the plan here on earth.

A few days ago we went by the home we shared to pick up mail – I sold the house last year before I remarried in September (that wasn’t a part of the plan either, but I am so thankful God led my husband Keith and me to each other. He is a miracle in my life!)

As we drove away my eyes began to fill with tears, and anxiety attempted to creep its way back in. My son noticed and asked, “Mommy, do you miss our house? Do you miss daddy? Why did daddy have to go to heaven before we moved? It was too soon.”

Those words, from my son, missing his daddy, are heartbreaking and a pain we will live with for a lifetime. But I’m going to share with you exactly what I shared with him.

“I do miss him very much. When we love someone and they are not here, it makes us sad. And, I don’t know the answer, buddy. When our lives don’t go as we plan and don’t look the way we always envisioned, all we can do is trust in the Lord and trust in His bigger purpose that we may not see. We have to be open to letting Him work in our lives,” I said. “I don’t understand why God allowed daddy to go to heaven so soon. I see how daddy’s life and our experience are impacting others for good, but I don’t really know the reason. We aren’t always called to understand but to trust in the Lord,” I tried to explain.

God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This was the verse written on a notecard that I found in my husband Michael’s truck. Little did I know, that notecard and this verse would help sustain me through my deepest side of grief.

I shared my heart and this verse with my son. Though I know he is so very young, I pray these words and thoughts build a foundation for his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as He grows and experiences his own grief journey.

Leaning on the Lord and not on my own understanding is how I am walking forward in this life and not just surviving but also finding joy again.

There is peace that cannot be explained when you know there is a God who sent His SON for each of us – that the Father is in control – and every single decision we make, though there is free will, doesn’t change the final outcome that He has planned.

Lord, I pray that even when we cannot understand the horrific things of this life, that you will bring us peace. Help us to walk forward with trust and without doubt, knowing you have a plan, you are with us, and you are in control. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible. 

 

 

 

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.

Unpacking the Memories

“What is it like, Sherry?”

Have you been asked this question about your widowhood? I am at the point on this road that people feel more comfortable asking me.

What is it like to lose your husband, friend, soulmate?  I have given a lot of thought to this, and the best description I can give that others can understand follows:

Think about when you plan and take the vacation of a lifetime — sometimes it turns out better than you expected.  You plan for it, save money, buy tickets, purchase special clothing, pack.

When you arrive at your destination, you begin to experience wonderful things.  You take pictures, drinking in the experience.  No matter how long your vacation is, you have to return home eventually.  You pull out your suitcase to start packing the clothes and souvenirs you know you won’t need for the rest of the trip.  Finally  you pack everything away for the trip home.

There you unpack once more.  As you pull out the clothes, some go in a pile for laundry and others go straight into your closet, unworn.  You find a place for your souvenirs.  Your pictures are printed. Seeing the photos allows wonderful memories to flood through you.  This unpacking brings both good and not-so-good memories and feelings with it.  You often long to return to your vacation, but must stay in your day-to-day world, perhaps saving money for your next vacation.

Grieving the loss of my husband has been like what I described above.  We had a wonderful life – full of memories.  With his death, I had to start packing away parts of that life.  It’s a slow process, because I have kept my “suitcase” on the floor of my bedroom, unlatched– I couldn’t bear to finish unpacking.  Once you totally unpack, the vacation is really over.  I still go to the “suitcase” to take out the souvenirs, handling them carefully, letting them flood my heart with memories.  Wonderful memories.

Each time I unpack and pack this virtual “suitcase”, the sharp pain of my loss lessens.  It doesn’t hurt as much each time I ponder our life together.  There are memories that I would say should go in the laundry pile – hospital visions, bandages, tears.  Then there are the memories that remind me of the breath-taking life we had – his smile, our laughter, shared meals, snuggling.  My heart has a tug of pain when I think of these things, but then it swells with happiness at having been the recipient of such a wonderful love, even if it ended too soon.

As I prepare to commemorate the sixth year since his death, I look back on our wonderful life and do not feel the sharp pain I once felt.  I thank God that He allowed me such a sweet time with my husband and that my memories of that time are still fresh.  I ponder them in my heart, like Mary, the mother of Jesus.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 KJV

I encourage you to go to your “suitcase” and allow yourself to experience the wonderful memories of a life well-lived.  Ponder these memories in your heart, and let the pain be replaced by the sweetness of a wonderful time remembered.

Dear Lord, Thank You for the gift of love and for the wonderful memories we hold in our hearts of time spent with loved ones. Amen


 

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 

A great article about healing is here by Linda.

 

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.