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

 


 

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.

 

16 is my number

As 2016 comes to a close and I step into 2017, year 7 of this journey, I stand in awe of God’s faithfulness and provision for me and my family.  I wrote the piece here a few years ago, yet it still rings true today.  2016 may have been a tougher one for various reasons; where some prayers went unanswered, where loss was felt, and life didn’t go as planned sometimes(go figure).  But, I still saw God’s fingerprints all over it.  16 is my number!  And I praise God He continues to redeem and restore it.  I pray this article blesses you as much as it did me as I revisited it and prayed over the new year.


“This is the day The Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.”  Psalm 118:24 

16 is my number….  Let me explain!

The 16th was the most joyous day around my house for many years.  September 16th was my husband’s birthday, we met on October 16th, and so we chose August 16th as our wedding day.  My reasoning was he never forgot his birthday or the day we met, so our anniversary would be equally as easy to remember.  We celebrated the 16th many times over.  It was our day!

Then my husband’s death changed all that.  He went to heaven on June 16th, and it seemed to go from a joyous day to a cursed day for me.  Each month, I dreaded and loathed it.  16 was a number that had betrayed me.  I marked it off on the calendar the first year every month, 1 month ago, 2 months ago, 3 months ago, 4 months ago…. For a long time I had to begrudgingly acknowledge the 16th and hated how it contained a tangible reminder of all I lost.

Now, I know God knows, because unbeknownst to anyone setting the schedule for our writing team, I am scheduled for my first official team member post and several after on that day.

I also know because without hesitation, I said I wanted the number 16 as my shirt number for a women’s basketball league.  I run around with 16 plastered on my back as I play every Sunday night.

My son wears 16 on every uniform, for every team he plays on now as well.

But wait…what am I thinking? The 16th became cursed, right?

I lead with my heart, and my heart has Christ.  In what seems like an impulsive choice with my basketball team and an odd coincidence with this ministry, I realize it’s entirely the LORD.  When asked what number I’d like my mouth blurted out the number 16 from my heart, before my brain got in the way. When asked if the schedule looked good, I confirmed without even noticing the date was the 16th for the next few months.

God is here and He knows.

God gave me the gift of joyous celebrations on the 16th for so many years.  Satan tried to claim 16 for himself through my husband’s suicide.  But, God knew that someday having all these events fall on the same day would somehow help me go back and remember and also help me move forward.  He knew way back then that now I’d be writing about my journey on the 16th of each month, and that I’d be running around every Sunday joyously on the basketball court with 16 on my back.  He knew that what Satan tried to steal, He’d claim and use for His honor and glory and my good.

It’s amazing to see my life through this date years later.  It’s still a whopper of a few months that hit me almost consecutively: June 16th, August 16th, September 16th, and October 16th.  Of course 3 of these dates no longer carry the joy they once did because of the 4th one.  But, they all no longer feel like they betrayed me either.  They are just days, my days, days The Lord made.

The 16th has been claimed by God as my day.  Now it’s my turn to find ways to rejoice and be glad in it.  Sometimes that’s easy and sometimes that’s hard.  But it’s possible because I have Christ and I can trust Him.  I’ve seen Him work to heal me and make 16 all mine.

Heavenly father, I stand in awe of how you’ve taken the 16th and transformed it, from joyous celebrations, to horrific pain, and then to perfect peace.  I have peace in your words that this day is the day you made for me.  I embrace it, and I ask that you continue to use me to bring honor and glory to you as I share my story about my day, number 16.  I pray that you are with each widow reading this, that you help them to move their day from pain and hurt to a place of peace, as they move forward and see it in a new light.  Lord help us to claim that this is the day You have made, and help us find ways to rejoice and be glad as you heal us.  In your matchless name, Amen.


Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here. 

Articles with a similar theme: He’s Already Proven It and A Hope That Keeps You Going


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

 

Recipe for Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 

Are you tired?

Are you worn out?

Does your grief exhaust you?

Is “burn out” looming ahead of you?

Do the holidays bring anxiety?

Rest. That seems to be what I want most right now in my life. This widow-life makes me weary. Every once in a while I will text a widow sister and say, “It was fun while it lasted (not really, and she knows it). Now can I have my life back?” I am just flat-out tired. Doing all I do as the only parent is exhausting.

Let’s look carefully at these words of Jesus as they pertain to us specifically.

  • Come to Me: Have you avoided spending time in God’s Word because you are angry with God?  Avoidance of Scripture doesn’t help your weary soul. Ask me, I know… Jesus opens His arms, saying, “Come back to Me, sweet daughter.”
  • Weary and burdened: Grief wears a person out. We understand weary. Add the burdens of life, and we have the perfect recipe for exhaustion. Burdens of caring for aging parents. Burdens of our own health or the health of our children. Burdens of relationships. We have burdens, right?
  • Take My yoke upon you: We need to remove the yokes we are currently wearing. The yokes I pile on are “image”, “sin”, “expectations”, “busyness”. What are yours? I imagine myself with all these yokes on my shoulders while Jesus stands there with a yoke made for me, fitting perfectly. I am weighed down under the yokes I have placed on my back. They don’t fit my shoulders, they rub sores, and they don’t provide any kind of relief for my weary soul. I can choose to keep piling on the yokes of my own making or receive the one made by my Creator for me specifically. That probably includes giving up control–such a challenge for me. What yokes are you wearing that are not from God?
  • Learn from Me:  I need to study His life. He is “gentle and humble”. Probably the two words we need most as a widow, when you think about it. Gentle with those thoughtless comments and lost relationships. Gentle with those who don’t understand grief and loss. Humble when needing help, and we do need help more than ever before.  Where do I need to use gentleness and humility so I can be more like Christ?
  • My yoke is easy and My burden is light: Yokes are heavy by their very nature, so how can Jesus say His is “easy” and “light”? I believe it goes back to taking His yoke on our shoulders. Perhaps it isn’t as heavy as it looks. The yokes I am wearing most days are not easy or light. They are heavy and wearisome. I want to shed these heavy ones and wear the easy, light one He has for me.
  • “And you will have rest for your souls.” Isn’t that what we all want anyway? What we are longing for? Especially during the holiday season.

Let’s follow the recipe He gave us and find the rest He offers. It isn’t merely jumping on a wagon of  “positive thinking” or just faking it. He PROMISES to give rest in exchange for taking His yoke upon our shoulders. Let’s shed the yokes we put on ourselves and take His.

Lord, You are our Creator. You promise rest if we follow Your guidelines. Help me stop looking everywhere else for rest. I want to be still and turn to You for rest. I hand over the cumbersome yokes I have been wearing for far too long. I need the rest You offer. Amen


 

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

 

 

Looking for another article on peace? Click here for an article titled Applying Peace by Lori Streller.

Looking for articles on dealing with the holidays? Click here 

 

How Long, Lord?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

A letter to God after years of single motherhood.

It’s been years, Lord.

My soul is tired.  

My arms and legs are tired.

My heart still yearns for what I lost.

I’m supposed to trust you, Lord.

And it’s not like I’ve never trusted You. When my kids were small, and I raised them alone, You took my hand, and led me through every turn.

But it’s been nine years of raising these children without Tom, Lord.

I try not to count, and when I pick up the count again, it means I’m tired, and  I fail to trust and I fail to understand.

I fail to understand why You guided me away from marrying for all these years when I so long for companionship.

I fail to understand why no simple financial solution has made up for the sacrifices I made to stay home and homeschool my children after Tom passed away.

I can thank You for my support network, the gifts and abilities You gave me, and the opportunities I’ve had to meet potential suitors.

But really, none of that fixes the hole that keeps reopening every time I think “nine years–how much longer, Lord?” 

And when that hole reopens, it’s like I’ve stepped out into the cold on purpose. And I just stand there, shivering with my lonely thoughts and my back towards You. 

But You’re still there.  Reaching out to me and handing me a coat.

And at times, I have to be honest, Lord, I simply won’t take it. I kid myself that I’d rather freeze than take help from You. 

I know what that’s about.

I’ve trusted you before, and You never fail me. It’s just that every time I choose to trust You, it means giving something up–actually giving everything up! Trusting You means letting all else go.

I remember a time four years ago when I almost stepped away from You.  The world told me I needed a husband. They told me You would bring me one. I thought I found one. The courtship was wonderful. I thought You had found a prince for me.

Until the engagement began, and suddenly I felt a frost come in. The one that was sweet and kind while we dated grew chilling as my children and I were presented with his stringent terms of a marriage in a joyless home.

You reached out with Your coat and told me to come on in. But trust You?  Give up my fiancé? The one that would provide a home and a new identity–away from widowhood? 

I was confused and scared–what would this unbelieving man do to the hearts and faith of my boys who were so focused on You?  I shivered at the thought. Shivered, but still stood there in the cold, considering a godless future over what You had to offer.

Why would I even consider it? Thank you, Father, for allowing that situation to get colder and bleaker, until I finally reached for whatever You had to offer!

I stepped out of the cold and into Your arms.

And it’s still hard. But it’s real. You are real.

And when I’m tired and my heart hurts because I’m still without a husband and my finances are strained, I think with gratitude that it was worth it because I chose to follow You and raise my children in You and serve the widows for You instead of following a wealthy man and serving myself.

But still I’m cold, meaning I’ve taken my focus off You again. 

Let’s be gut honest–I don’t always trust You, God.  Your Word says to, but there are times I grow so weary I forget to open Your Word. I’ll instead get caught up in reading Facebook or emails when I know where Your Truth is. It’s like I’m choosing to go back out in the cold.

What’s wrong with me? I know Your Word says to trust You, but do I reach for it? Like this morning as I write this, I’m spinning in circles trying to figure my own way out of my pain while Your Word  just sits there on the shelf.

And so I will end this prayer with this: I will stop spinning and grab hold of Your Word and trust.

It’s not like I feel like trusting You, but it isn’t always about me, is it, God?

Amen.

And as I ended this prayer, I opened His Word to Proverbs 3:5.Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

A new understanding is exactly what I need, I thought, just before the phone rang.

It was my grown stepdaughter. I told her about the chill in my heart. About my questions. Could I trust God? Why this long without a husband?

“Don’t you see?” She began, her words draping over my shoulder like God’s warm coat, bringing me in from the cold. “If you had married that wealthy, difficult man, you would never have gotten that ministry going. Those four boys would never be the kind hearts that they are today.  You would never have had the time or the heart to reunite my brother and me with our four little brothers, and you may never have had the time to show me how to walk with God. I love you.”

I love  you too, God.  Would you please put a coat on my widow sisters as well? 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:

Don’t Shop Hungry

9 Weeks; 3 Years, Forever

Solitude vs Loneliness

 

 

A Legacy of Life Well Lived

Legacy is a loaded word for me now.  Becoming a widow at 35 years old made me acutely aware of the increased need to leave a legacy for my kids, while fiercely protecting and even nurturing my late husband’s legacy.  

In the beginning it was hard.  My husband died by suicide in a very public manner. The fear and shame of that fact drove me for awhile.  I feared how my very young children would ever live full lives with one parent missing. I was afraid of how damaging this would be for them as they learned the details and reality of their father’s death. I also spent countless hours trying to figure out how I could destroy the statistics they now faced in their own liveswith the hereditary factors of mental illnessI thought I needed to “prove” or “do” something, to create a “worthy” legacy to eliminate the stigma of suicide from all of us.

In the six plus years on this journey, God has healed me in mighty ways.  He’s taught me how to embrace the life He has ordained for me, and claim full victory in Christ over my husband’s suicidal death.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I am not defined by what’s happened to us.  My kids are not destined to become suicide victims, or prone to struggles themselves. 

My God is bigger!

My kids are His, and He has ordained their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

I can fully TRUST Him with their lives and with mine.  (Psalm 91:1-2)

I am a daughter of the KING and not bound by any stigma(2 Corinthians 6:18)

I have come to realize the legacy is in our entire story. That story still unfolds today.  It’s in our children and their limitless, God-designed futures.  Scott’s legacy is in his eternal reward he is receiving right now in Heaven. 

As a widow I get the unique privilege of not only seeing and influencing my husband’s legacy through sharing our story and raising our kids, but I am experiencing a greater sense of the importance in making sure I leave a positive, faith-filled, legacy too

My desire and prayer is to influence my children and anyone I can for the Kingdom.  

want to glorify God even in the midst of so much tough stuff; praying that God will continue to use me and my kids for His greater purposes, and my kids will choose to walk in full victory in Him throughout their lives.  

At the end, I hope the biggest part of my legacy will be I reflected Christ and faithfully followed Him all the days of my life. 


Here are some practical tips for living a legacy now that will impact the Kingdom for eternity:

• Share your story and your faith with everyone you can.
• Lead your home and your kids well rooted in the Lord and His Word. (Deuteronomy 6)
• Tell your kids about their daddies. Remember him well for them.
• Honor God, even in the mire of grief.
• Remind yourself and point your kids to God‘s redemptive plan. (Revelation 21:5)
• Leave fingerprints on this world by actively participating in your church and by making missions a mission.
• Comfort others with the same comfort you’ve been given. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
• Grow your faith through personal, small group, and large group studies.
• Find intentional ways to groyour kids faith.
• Surround your kids with those who’ll point them to Jesus.
• Pray for your kids, for their salvation, for their futuresand for their spouses.
• Pray for your future and seek His will for you now.
• Live life! (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12)
• Trust God in every single way, walking in the shelter of His love, grace, and provision every day. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other posts on leaving a legacy: New Traditions and Something old, something new

Dating 101

How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?  Forever?  How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?  How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?  Consider and hear me, O Lord my God; lighten mine eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death.  Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed again him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.  But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.  I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. 

Psalm 13 KJV

When my husband died, I spent the first three years healing and asking God for direction for my life.  About three and a half years into my journey, I felt that God was opening my heart to search for another love.   So I dipped my toe into the dating pool.  I found very quickly that the pool is filled some sharks that are hungry, and you have to be very careful.

I have had a serious relationship that lasted about fifteen months, and because I lost my way in the thick of it, it lasted about six months longer than it should have.  The end was dramatic.  I was very defeated as I walked out of that relationship.  Then, I went on a series of texts and dates that all ended with no love or even friend connection.

I keep asking God if He wants me to continue this part of the journey.  I keep asking Him to close my heart and take away the desire of sharing my earthly life with another.  The more I pray, the more my heart remains open.  So I continue to pray and be open to meet people God brings into my life.

I don’t want this search to sound like it has overtaken my life.  I continue to work full time; own a home and maintain it; parent a college-age child; attend and volunteer in a local church; write for A Widow’s Might; fellowship with friends and family; and support the care for my parents.

There is a certain vulnerability in sharing this part of my life in an article, especially one that will be circulated among Christian readers.  Dating, especially for adult women, is really a quiet activity.  But, as I sit here tonight at my computer, I feel called to share that I have not yet been successful in finding someone to share my life and my love of Christ with.  In fact, I have met a lot of people who are fraudulent in who they really are.

I share this because I want you to know that this search for another life-mate is part of my widow journey.

I am whole in who I am right now.  I am complete and God can use me in a mighty way, right now.

But, for the moment, God is tending to my heart in a way that makes it open for love and for a life companion.

This article is not going to end with a nice, tidy ribbon tied to it.  I am still searching and I am walking out of another failed “friendship” after talking and sharing meals with someone for two months.  I am seeing how God is, with the people who have crossed my path so far, sparing me from lifelong pain in that they will not be a permanent part of my future.   My heart is intact and I can still love.  I am not bitter– but open to what God’s plan is for my life.

So, I encourage you to discern God’s call for your life.

  • If it is to have an open heart to share your life with someone, do so cautiously and safely. Glorify God in your search.  Keep your standards high and don’t compromise.
  • If you feel called to remain single, do so with joy, knowing you are complete and whole and God can use you in a mighty way. 

I’ll keep you posted on my journey.  God isn’t finished with me yet – there is still more to come!

Dear Lord, Thank You for being steady and constant and unfailing.  I remain obedient to You as I walk this part of the journey and Your call to me to share this part of the journey with others in a public way.  I know You will use this for good.  I love You and I am so excited to watch You work in my life.  Amen


Sherry Look

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: Dating a Widow by Kit Hinkle

 

I Struggle!

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22 ESV

 

Sometimes I feel like I could just write this one sentence and everyone would agree.

I struggle. PERIOD.

Enough said for widows and anyone who suffers loss, women, broken people, those with illness or disabilities, men, teens, Christians, unbelievers, old, young, rich and poor, everyone….

We all struggle.

I’m not “Super Susie Sunshine Christian” trying to make everyone around me believe that I have it all together and walk through life with no worries, pressures, or struggles.  I am a real woman trying to serve a very real God. Which I think will be a book someday, but for now, it’s just who I am. I’m on staff in this ministry, on staff at my church, own a business, founded a nonprofit, and yet most days I’m just trying to get out of bed and be dressed. That’s it; all I’ve got.

I struggle with lies of the enemy about my place, my worth, my value, my impact. I have less years to live than I’ve already lived. Will my life make a difference? I struggle with grief and brokenness, self image, weight and beauty, with financial decisions and provision. I struggle with words and thoughts that are not in, of, and for God.

Most people who meet me during the course of a day would not think this is true of me. By God’s grace alone, most days I make it past dressed and out of bed. I speak for a living, so I have to work hard to craft my people skills and my God given talents and gifts. I sing, write and travel. My desire is to empower everyone, I am allowed to speak into, with a glimpse of how to become their best selves. I want His light to shine through me. I KNOW God, I TRUST God and I try to LIVE God out-loud. I know how to take thoughts captive and command the enemy to flee not by my power, but by the power of Christ in me. Yet, there are still days when I struggle.

The difference is I have hope even when I struggle. Hope tomorrow will be a better day. That it will be a highlight reel day, instead of a cutting room floor day. Hope I can pull it together, because I get on my knees and let it go. Hope God will indeed be who He says He is; my redeemer, my rescuer, the lover of my soul.

Hope.

Hope is the most powerful tool of the human mind, the most sought after human emotion, and the only thing that some of us cling to on the worst days. God has a great deal to say about hope. This four letter word is mentioned over 120 times in the Bible. He knew we would NEED hope and as always, He provided.

Psalm 42:11 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. 

Proverbs 23:13 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

I Corinthians 13:7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I have no idea what you struggle with, but I want you to know today, if you struggle, it’s okay. We all do. You ARE NOT the only one! Grab hold of this fact, hope can overcome any of our struggles if our hope is found in the Lord.  Lay claim to His power, His strength, His promises. The struggle may be real, but in Christ there is truth and power. He is reality! The enemy has already been defeated and the victory has already been won.

Let your prayer today be a way to call it out; “I am victorious in Christ. He carries my burdens!” Jesus, my hope is in You. Amen!


 

Tcas1

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

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

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

Posts similar to this one by other authors: Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?  & Breathing in Hope Read more

And Then There Was One

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

                         Proverbs 13:12   ESV

And then there was one.

Those were the words that echoed in my head with the recent passing of my mother-in-law. Death had come once again.

After attending to her final wishes, I found myself reflecting back to the days I first met her and the why. Those thoughts prompted me to my wedding album. My wedding day. The union of my husband (her son) and I brought two families together with the hopes and dreams a marriage brings. One of my favorite pictures is of my husband and I, our parents and my two grandmothers. It was our family, our support system.

That picture brings so much joy to my heart. After all, it was the day my young girl dreams of marrying the love of my life came to be. When I look at the face of each person in that picture I see eager anticipations of what the union meant. That day was perfect and the beginning of new adventures and the hope of many dreams.

And yet.

That picture brings so much pain to my heart. What I did not know that day, was that in 30 years, I would be the only one in that photo left standing on this earth. I did not know that my hopes would dissolve and that I would be asked to walk through the valley of grief seven times. I did not know that the weight of carrying on for the family would rest solely on my shoulders and that I would be without the support of my entire immediate family.

I have had many days when I ache for the comfort of family. You know the days when you just want to share something exciting or when you need to hear words of support from those who know you best? I yearn for the comfort of sitting around the kitchen table sharing stories of long ago and hearing about the lives that impacted my life growing up. I hurt knowing many of my hopes and dreams are washed away.

How can I go forward with this depth of grief and disruption of plans? Who am I to be asked to carry the weight of living out the legacy this union started? How can I still accomplish any purpose God may have for me when I feel the loss of my support system?

My hope had been deferred. At least in the earthly sense. I wrestle with the human side of what I have lost. Gone is the help of loved ones I expected to be around for many years. I still want them in my picture of life. Yes, my heart is sick, when I concentrate on the fading hopes.

And yet.

Can my longings still be fulfilled? Is there room to still be grateful for things hoped for? Joyfully, I now see hope living in my two daughters. Their lives are an extension of our union.  And while I yearn for the presence of these loved ones who have passed, I can still embrace new hopes.

I can now look at this picture and focus on a renewed hope and still see dreams; they are just different now. I see His promises mirrored in the faces of those He gave me for a short while. As I carry them in my heart, I ask that He let me have the sweet spirit and kindred hearts of my grandmothers. I ask that He give my future sons-in-laws the physical strength, that I saw in the hands and feet of those two fathers. I ask that my girls have the perseverance through all things that I saw in those mothers.  And I ask to have the heart to share the gospel that my husband did so very well. How beautiful these legacies are. What a blessing it is for me to already see pieces of each of them reflected in the lives of my daughters.

Hope deferred. Hope renewed. Longings fulfilled.

Father, please give us hearts to know our longings can still be fulfilled, even if our hopes are no longer what we thought they would be. Help us to know our support comes from you and life can still be abundantly full. Amen. 


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

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

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about hope, Katie and Kit .