Pick Up Your Mat

Then Jesus said…, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

John 5:8 (NIV)

And just like that—one of my closest friends stepped out of my life.

I thought I would be the only widow to say that until I heard it from about a zillion other widows—many here on our pages.

The break happened years ago, and I can happily say she and I have reconciled and forgiven each other. Who knows if we’ll ever restore the trust we had before, but at least we’re able to laugh and share memories.

But those feelings of betrayal and abandonment–goodness, they hit me like a second grief.  I stopped everything and cried my eyes out while she went on with her happy life, surrounded by her entourage of friends I no longer had time to hang with.  While she held her girls-night-outings without me, I was busy raising my boys by myself. At the time I didn’t know why it bothered me—it wasn’t like I had time to socialize anyway.

On the other hand, I now know why it bothered me–old scars from high school.  I was one of those independent types who wondered why I seemed to avoid the deemed “in-crowd” while my sister pranced about in her cheerleading outfit–near the center of attention from that same crowd. I would have been fine with my own nature, academics, if it weren’t for subtle comparisons made between us by well-meaning folks. It takes time and maturity to see standing apart from the crowd as a good thing. Seeing it now doesn’t erase the memory of that feeling I had as a girl wondering why I simply didn’t run with the popular crowd like my sister did.

That feeling got triggered many times during those early days as a single mom. Without a social life and without a husband to boost my confidence, I would sit and mutter over my queen-bee friend’s abandonment.  How dare she?  Why do I care? Why can’t I be the queen-bee? Why does being the lonely widow feel like the one who chose not to hang with the cheerleaders?

When you’ve been kicked in the shins and you’re down and lonely, you start to think and reflect.  Sometimes Satan has a heyday with that thinking and you come up with some ridiculous notion that you’ll always be stuck with whatever hardship life threw at you as a child.

I was taking those feelings of the academic kid not hanging with the popular crowd and applying it to the single mom not running about with my queen-bee’s friends crowd.

This is called victim mentality, and the enemy loves digging this knife in you.  You’ll twist about, taking that pattern of whatever seems to have happened yet again and applying it to every example in your life you can think about.

Unless you pick up your mat and walk.

When Jesus heeled a paralyzed man, he didn’t dwell on why he was paralyzed.  He didn’t have the man lay on the mat for a while and reflect on how much it hurt.  He commanded the man to pick up the mat and walk.

And that’s exactly how I was able to forgive and redeem at least a light friendship with my queen-bee friend. I stopped laying on my “mat” of abandonment and sorrow. My friend did something unkind, but I didn’t need to be unkind back. I could even forgive.  And I could get up and start anew.  Once I freed myself from any bitterness, I could even relax and enjoy her.  I choose not to engage too much with her because I’ve learned where her limits are. And besides, since then I’ve made many new friends who are far more faithful and trustworthy.

Be healed. Walk healed. Christ calls us to be redeemed.  To be born again. To begin anew.

Staring at your mat only holds you back.

Abba Father,

All it takes is a word from You, and the widow reading this can be healed.  Point her forward, not backwards.  Show her what You have in store for her, and give her the healing and strength to pick up her mat and walk.  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:

Into the Great Unknown   Finding Your Pearl   Blended and Bonded

We Are Not Alone

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

                                                                                         Revelation 3:20 NIV

 

We. Are. Not. Alone. can be words that elicit terror or jubilation. Which is it for you?

God has created us in His image, which means we were created to be in community just like Him: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we accept Him as Lord of our lives, we are given a seat at the table. It is a choice we can make that means we never have to dine alone again.

I hate eating alone. There’s no one to share the highs and lows of the day. No one to listen to, no one to laugh with. It doesn’t seem worth cooking a good meal just for me. My most common dinner companion is the television. Eating has become a task stripped of the beauty of companionship and community with others. I was not made to dine alone.

As widows, we can find ourselves feeling very cut off from others. Activities we once enjoyed becoming painful tasks, a mockery of the beautiful companionship that once was.

But we are not alone.

My heart is still so full from our conference a few weeks ago. Something so beautiful happens when we gather. I feel like God’s presence is magnified ten-fold when we are with others who are walking so closely with Him. An incredible joy bubbles up with seeing His faithfulness being demonstrated in each of the ladies’ lives. Every time we gather, I experience God’s love and provision in an intense way.

I am reminded of the difference between sharing a feast with others instead of dining on scraps alone.

It wasn’t easy for the women who came– choosing to go to the conference, working out many logistics including transportation, arranging childcare, etc. But for most, the biggest hurdle was overcoming the fear– “Do I have the emotional strength and energy to connect with new people?” They stepped out in faith, and God blessed them with everything they needed, plus so much more.

God’s word is clear from beginning to the end. We are not created to be alone. The world we live in sends the message the only way to fill the void in our lives is with a man. Having a spouse to share our lives with is just one of the ways God created for us to be with others. He created within us an intense need for being in community so that first and foremost, we would seek to satisfy our need with a relationship with Him. Nothing can or will ever fill the void, except being with Him. And as an extension of our relationship with Him, we are created to be in community with His church, the body of Christ.

Our call to action: 

So let us pray for one another to overcome our fears and the obstacles depriving us from gathering at the table. Let us pray for one another to first and foremost, fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May our fears, our anger, and our sadness decrease as we are continually filled with His love. May each of us let His love flow through us to build up and encourage others. Let us say “I hear you knocking at the door, Lord. Please come in and I will dine with you and you will dine with me!”

We are not alone.


 

SherylPeppletb

Sheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.

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

Want to read another great article by Sheryl?  Hello, my name is

Want to read another article about how to deal with loneliness?  Loneliness, Get Out!

My Tribe

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”  C.S. Lewis

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

I’ve heard it countless times as a widow from some wonderful and well meaning people.  Early on, it was my married friends or some other person who thought they were helping.  One time a pastor even said it to me, when I mentioned how tough it was to not be part of a couple or have the friendships I had anymore.

“God is your husband now. He is all you need.”

With every ounce of my being I know each person meant well and was trying to comfort me, even if there was no deeper true understanding of what I was going through.

Frankly though, they were wrong.

In the garden of Eden God was with Adam.  Scripture says He was present, and He walked and talked with Adam.  Yet, in Genesis God says “it’s not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)  So He created a help mate, a partner!

From that union forward we see many rich and beautiful relationships and marriages throughout God’s Word. To name just a few: Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Rachel, Isaac and Rebeckah, and even Mary and Joseph.

We also see the need for a friend too, a go to person; Jesus had Peter, David had Jonathan, Naomi had Ruth, Abraham had Lot, Job had his close friends.

Please understand me.  I believe God is good.  He is Sovereign.  I love Him and He loves me.  He’s certainly provided, protected and loved me throughout. He’s set me apart as a widow. He has been there for me.  He has become my husband in some tangible ways and no human will ever come before Him in my life again.

But I still need more!  I need people. A tribe! Real live huggable, lovable people.  And to be told otherwise goes against God’s word.

I need people who’ll show empathy and give me the freedom and encouragement needed to walk this path, even if they don’t get this at a deeper level because they haven’t experienced it.  I need those who’ll spend time with me.  Who’ll let me pour into them, and they into me.  I need confidants and supporters. I need to be needed too.

We all need a group or tribe of people in our life.

Of course my “before” tribe looked very different than my “now” tribe, and I may lack the intimacy of marriage; but God Himself and my tribe have perfectly filled some of the more important voids.

My tribe consists of married, widowed, single, and divorced. My tribe blesses me every day.  And I pray I bless them every day too.

Sisters, don’t settle.  Don’t be fed the lies that we don’t need more because God is our husband now.

God will fill you up.  He will heal you and move you forward.  No one can be Him.  But He shows us from Genesis on, we need a tribe!

Maybe it’s a tribe of one or two.  Or it’s a tribe of ten or more.  It doesn’t matter.

Just find your tribe!  And let God bless you richly through them.  Let Him use you too, to comfort and love them from the deeper places this journey has given you.

I encourage you to seek a tribe who can stand together with you united in faith, love, and friendship.

Father God, I thank You for my friendships and the way You use each of them in my life.  I thank You that You’ve called me to be the kind of friend I seek in others.  I thank You for Your constant presence in my life, and for being my husband.  Yet, giving me so much more than I ever deserve in the tribe You’ve gifted to me.  May I never forget how much You have loved me and provided for me in the absence of my earthly husband.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, 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.

Related articles on this topic: Falling into Friendship God’s Way and What is Friendship?

Sisterhood

These words were shared by our precious sister, Karen Emberlin, who journeyed to heaven this fall. 

One of our favorite things about our Care Bear, was spending time with her at our conferences.  Her kind-hearted grace and sweet spirit were such a blessing to each of us.  She was there to serve all of us and to glorify God, wanting no attention for herself. 

She wrote these words over a year ago, right before our Dallas 2015 conference.  She found AWM when she was deep in grief and unsure she had any reason to continue on.  But, God did have plans.  She joined us in the spring of 2013 and her writings resonated every time she shared her journey and the things God was teaching her. 

We love and miss her each and every day.  We pray her words about our conferences bless you as much as they continue to bless us. 


Are you looking for “true friends”, a sisterhood, who will understand this unwanted journey you are on?  Someone who understands and can share your tears and grief, but can also have fun and laugh with you?

When I began my journey of widowhood, it was difficult to find someone who really understood what I was going through.  Friends and family were kind and tried to help, but sometimes I felt like they just “didn’t get it”.   How could they know – they had never been on this journey of widowhood!

Early in my journey I found this ministry and it became my “life line”!  The articles I read described exactly the feelings and situations I was facing – these ladies really did “get it”!  Their words of encouragement gave me the glimmer of hope I needed to know that God’s love was still there for me – always!

Then, I became a team member and had the privilege of participating in each of our conferences.  What a joy to be able to meet face to face with other sisters and share our stories, our hurts, our tears, new accomplishments and also the joy we have in Jesus.  It was like we had known each other all of our lives – friendships were made that will last a lifetime!

~ Karen


Testimonials from those who have attended previous conferences:

Melanie – For the first time in this widowhood journey I finally felt like I was in a place where others truly understood my pain, my being where I am in my grief was ok, there was no judgment or wanting me to move forward or past Greg’s death. It’s like I felt an immediate bond/connection with all of you and it felt safe.  It’s so nice to have people who just “get it”!

Donna –  I finally found a group of people who knew what I had been going thru since I’d entered the new life of grief, it’s like being in a whole different world and not being able to communicate because they don’t understand your language, And also have a group who at least some of you can’t sleep so we can comfort each other thru long nights!

Lisa –  This widow’s conference was such a wonderful shared experience among all of us ladies. Thx leaders for following THROUGH with God’s leading. The beautiful sky over the water was just one of our shared benefits. ALL praise to Almighty God.

Terri- Attending the aNew Season conference in Myrtle Beach was one of the best things I did for myself as a widow. It blessed me so much that I couldn’t wait to sign up for the conference in Dallas and took a widow friend with me! There is a precious bond between all the women attending these conferences that you will not find anywhere else…a “knowing” each other’s hearts in a way that others cannot share. Go! You will not regret it!


10 Important Facts about our Denton Conference in April.

1. Location is at Camp Copass in Denton Texas, just a short distance from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

2. Dates are: April 25-27, 2016

3. Conference sessions begin Monday early afternoon and close on Wednesday around noon.

4. It’s an all-inclusive place so food, lodging, and all conference fees are included.

5. Transportation to and from the airport is your responsibility. There are shuttles and taxis that are available.

6. You can walk to everything, so you will have no need for a car.

7. You can choose to room alone.  Single occupancy is $499. Or you can choose to room with someone.  Double occupancy is $399.

8.  Early bird registration only lasts until the end of March. Space is limited!

9. Camp Copass is a Christian retreat facility with hotel-like accommodations and is located on the serene and beautiful shoreline of Lake Lewisville.

10.You will be connected to a private facebook page for conference participants only.  That page will remain open once the conference concludes and that community will become your dear friends and confidants.


 

You can find out more information about the conference and register here: Register for our first conference of 2016

 

If you have any additional questions, please email us at: admin@anewseason.net

 

 

Solo Mom

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Hebrews 4:16

I had lunch with a friend awhile back. She told me she was in awe of me.  Not because I’m really awesome, which I usually am until I get out of bed in the morning. But, because I parent three kids all on my own.  Let me just share she’s a new mom, so she’s in that phase of being totally sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I call it “first baby syndrome”!  So to see me do it with three kids, right now to her I look pretty awesome.

Although she’s never there in the morning when we have exactly two minutes before we need to leave for school.  There’s a whole level of crazy she doesn’t see!

The life my kids and I lead is an intimate dance usually meant just for us.

Yet, from the outside in the glimpses she and others might get, we look pretty “good”.  After lunch I sat considering our conversation and her impressions of me, realizing that I am being watched by many; as a woman, as a widow, as a Christian, and particularly as a mom. That fact was heavy!

Because-

I fail every day.  I mess up and make mistakes.  I yell.  I lose my patience.  I say things I shouldn’t. I wonder sometimes if my kids’ poor behavior or attitudes are totally due to my lack luster parenting.

As a solo mom, I have made many bad decisions. And just the other day my teenage daughter reminded me in a “most helpful” way, I don’t follow through with my threats sometimes.

I’m pretty mediocre at best.

I am certainly no one to be watched.

Honestly, solo parenting is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done!

I never have a day off. Every decision is on me. Every time I need to discipline it’s just me.  I can’t “tag” out and pass them off to anyone.  Ever.

I have a village of people who help me.  And I’m blessed by that group in so many ways.  But, the bottom line is, I’m it!  I don’t get any days off.  I can’t call on my hubby to deal with a behavior issue for me.  I can’t talk out the decisions or issues I have with each of them with the guy who got them as well as I do.  When there’s an issue.  It’s just me!

And that’s just the character molding…

There’s also the schedule managing, homework completing, lunch making, clothing washing, appointment managing, taxiing, sport watching, feeding, project completing, and meet every other need I do daily.

So what’s my secret?  What’s the big epiphany to this calling as a widow?  Why does my friend admire me?  Well.  You ready?

I’m a terrible sinful person.  My kids are terrible sinful people. It’s really not us.  It’s all by the blood of Christ.

It’s the Him in us that others see.

We aren’t perfect, yet HE is.

We keep it real.  We are authentic.  We show people it’s okay to be a messy unorthodox family.  It’s okay to have grief as a family member.  It’s okay to not be totally okay.  And yes, I am even showing others, solo parenting is possible by God’s amazing grace, provision, and mercy.

I need daily love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  And I receive that and so much more when I approach His throne and lay it all before Him.

For me, I know for certain, right now there’s no greater time than this, and no greater need than the needs of a widow trying to solo parent her kids.

Father, thank You for the grace You give me as a solo mom.  Thank You that You’re the constant I can rely on when I especially fail as a solo mom.  Your mercy and grace covers me every day, and for that I am so grateful. Lord, I lift up other solo moms to You now.  Come alongside them.  And be all they need right now.  Convict them to go before Your throne and find Your grace and mercy to be exactly what they need. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, 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 articles on Solo Momming: A Mom’s Grace-filled Saga & Mission: Parenting!

Our First Conference of 2016

 Save the date!

April 25th- April 27th at Camp Copass in Denton, Texas

We are so excited to announce our first widows’ conference of 2016 at Camp Copass in Denton, Texas, a hidden gem just twenty minutes from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport!  This 3 day/2 night conference at a beautiful lakeside Christian Camp with hotel style accommodations will allow you to refresh and recharge spiritually. Experience the blessing of being with other widows as you receive uplifting teaching and practical tips for everyday life. Be renewed through deep, meaningful worship. Leave the conference feeling equipped to impact God’s kingdom by living a life that bears much fruit.

Imagine fellowship around a campfire with a beautiful lake view.

2016-02-18 22.47.34

We have reserved the Tally Retreat Center with hotel style accommodations.  There will be single and double occupancy rooms available. Your cost will include conference fees, as well as both lodging and meals.

Tally Retreat Center-Hotel Room

Space will be limited so please stay tuned for our registration to open at the end of this month.

We are looking forward to spending time together in this wonderful place.

conference collage


 

Just in case you’re not sure, or fearful of how you can step out and attend a conference for “widows”.  We want to encourage you with these wonderful previous conference attendee testimonials.

I left Ohio with a grief-laden, raw heart on a cold February morning 2015 – 9 months after suddenly losing my husband. I was leaving my 4 children behind to fly halfway across the country to attend a conference of strangers. Brave? Not really  Desperate? Yes, very. But more than anything I was surrendering, surrendering to this new journey that was suddenly cast upon me. Widowhood. How I hated that word.. I still do, but what I found was that I was not alone. The leaders of a New Season/Widow’s might embraced each one of us as if we were old friends. They truly want to help bring healing and hope to your brokenness – not just for one weekend, but for as long as you need them. No matter how you lost your beloved, THEY understand. More importantly, they know Who to point you to even in your hurt and anger. Jesus. I don’t regret for one second the sacrifice I made to attend. I left with a renewed purpose and a whole new circle of “social network” friends that are only a few keystrokes, and thought away.  I plan to attend again.
Michelle R- Ohio

I attended ANew Season conference just six weeks after my husband passed in February 2015. It took everything I had to get there, but I thank God I did. This ministry and these women started my journey to healing. Though everyone has a different story and may be in a different season of loss, being surrounded by other women who understand the pain of losing their husband, somehow, brought comfort and strength. I believe the Lord places people in our paths as His hands and heart here on earth. The ladies at ANew Season were His hands and heart for me during that time. I am forever grateful.
Jennifer S- Texas

Attending the aNew Season conference in Myrtle Beach was one of the best things I did for myself as a widow. It blessed me so much that I couldn’t wait to sign up for the conference in Dallas and took a widow friend with me! There is a precious bond between all the women attending these conferences that you will not find anywhere else…a “knowing” each other’s hearts in a way that others cannot share. Go! You will not regret it!
Terri S- Arkansas

Here’s a glimpse from our conference in November 2014 in Myrtle Beach: http://anewseason.net/videogallery/dallas-conference-promo/

 

If you’ve received this email and you’re not a widow, please prayerfully seek to share this with a widow in your life! 

 

 

 

Walk This

 “Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.”

Psalm 143:8

I’ve spent much time this year reflecting.  Reflecting on life, friendship, love, and God’s will.

I’ve gained and lost, learned and grown in many ways over the last few years on this widowhood journey.

Please, walk with me!

Life

Through new loss, I’ve been reminded life is so fragile and I can be here one minute and gone the next.  I don’t take any day for granted, even if most days I’m just doing the mundane “mom” stuff.  I try to have fun and find joy in the moments.  I’ve changed; I won’t ever be the same.  My kids see a worn out and weary mom more often than they should but, I don’t want my life to be riddled with grief and pain.  I have learned life is a precious gift; and I only have one shot at it.  I am not promised tomorrow.  I am not promised life without suffering or pain. So, I must choose to live for today!

Friendship

This has been my toughest lesson lately.  I’ve lost friendships. I’ve learned friends can be fickle and many will come in and out of my life.  Some friendships are really just a season.  I guess I thought most of my adult friends would just always be, even in widowhood.  But, I’ve learned in some instances that’s not the case. Yet, I’m learning to be a better friend, a deeper friend.  And to cherish the friendships I do have, not to squander them or treat them carelessly as I certainly did in the past.  I’ve learned friendships are fragile and precious.  They are a blessing I don’t ever want to take for granted, again. I’m learning to be the kind of friend I want others to be to me.

Love

The bible says lots of good stuff about love for another. Yet, I’ve learned love can be lost.  This year I thought I was in love again.  It was exciting and full of many things the bible says about it. But, in the end, it was lost and not to be. Through this season I’ve learned and seen that God’s love for me now is even more abundant.  His love is vast and freeing. His love is enough.  He’s loved me, so I can love others.  I’ve learned that even though love endures, it morphs and changes. Earthly love isn’t always romantic and Disney like.  Most of the time it is messy and hard, and in the end, it might not be enough.

God’s will

I’ve searched high and low for this.  I’ve asked.  I’ve begged.  I’ve prayed.  Yet, His will seemed to elude me.  This year, I finally realized God’s will isn’t some game He plays.  He doesn’t hide it away expecting me to run around for years trying to find it. It’s here. It’s now. It’s who I am and what I’m doing today, because if He didn’t want me here, He would move me.  He would reveal where He wanted me and what He wanted me doing differently.  I know His will by knowing His word, being in prayer, and following His leadings.  It’s not a game or riddle to be solved.  It’s a Sovereign plan unfolding each day, as I get up and seek to honor and glorify Him right where He has me now.

In the end, I realize I just need to walk this, and have a few willing to walk with me-trusting God with every step.  Knowing He’s walking ahead of me, coming behind me, and right beside me walking this with me.

Thank you Lord for Your care over me.  It’s humbling to know I’m so loved that You are here for me and You even give me others willing to walk this with me. I’m unworthy Lord, in my own right, but I thank You because of Your grace You’ve made me worthy.  I pray God, for each sister reading this, that You would grow them and reach them on this journey.  Reveal Yourself to them and provide for them in ways they can’t fathom.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.

 

295163_1927953164696_1418199297_31839733_2097799_nErika Graham is Director of Operations, 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 her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author click here.

Related articles: A New Year, a New Chapter & A New Year… Another Try

The Ornament Without a Hook

…falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:60 (ESV)

As we hung our ornaments on the tree, I studied one of my favorites, a figurine of baby Jesus marked with the shadow of a cross. That ornament always reminds me that even from infancy, Jesus was marked to become a sacrificial lamb.

I chose a dignified position on the tree for my treasure and discovered the hook on the top of this ornament had fallen off. I scrambled through the box and rummaged through my garage for hooks or wires. Finally I laid the ornament on the table.

As the other ornaments one-by-one found their places on the tree, I almost imagined that piece feeling lost and uncertain on the table.

Tom had some of those “ornaments” in his life. People who loved him dearly and had their own stories with him. Each story was a kind of a hook to him.  Sometimes the “hook” that kept them connected with him involved an unresolved problem that caused him struggles with them. Struggles he willingly endured because he loved them, encouraged them, and hoped that time would bring healing between them.

But time wasn’t given.

In the wake of his death, these precious loved ones had double the scars—the loss of Tom and the loss of any opportunity for closure other than in their hearts.  Tom was no longer available to work through whatever needed to be worked through.

And for a while, it seemed  whatever couldn’t be worked out with him was taken up with me. Sometimes the widow becomes the physical representation of the loss, and therefore, a target.

ornament

Are you struggling with misplaced hostilities during the holidays? It’s not easy when you are already struggling to get through the season with grief.  How do you handle it?

I’ve asked this question before while frustrated, and heard the Lord speak His answer in my heart loudly and clearly:

Forgive.

But this season is difficult enough to handle while grieving!

Again–same answer:  Forgive.

But they do it again! Must I be subjected to offense over and over?

Jesus tells us to forgive your brother seventy times seven times.  He forgave his attackers as He was dying on the cross. And if you think He gave Himself as He spoke forgiving words only as an ideal example, think again. Stephen, in the early church, was as human as you or I. And as he was being stoned to death, his last words held compassion for his attackers.  “…falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:6 ESV).

Ask the loved ones around you to remember the tough walk you are on during this season.  Then take extra compassion and care when it comes to dealing with their behaviors.

Forgive and maintain healthy boundaries with those who no longer have your husband to hook their troubles on. Tune in next week when I’ll offer suggestions for setting boundaries and keeping these relations in your life without letting them turn into “grinches” who steal your Christmas.

Lord Father, please remind my dear sisters on this widow journey that when You say Peace to All Men– you meant to all widows as well.  Give her Your love and confidence so that she can identify where to set boundaries and how to be understanding of the grief in those around her who may not be on their best behaviors.  Amen.

Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

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

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective by Kit Hinkle

Friendships by Erica Graham

A Reader Writes…

Recently we had a lovely reader write us after reading one of our articles. She had such a transparent heart, we asked if we could share an excerpt from her letter and some of our response. You may find yourself in some of the thoughts she is sharing. We post this here as a reminder, you are not alone in your feelings! Do you have a question you would like to ask? Email us at admin@anewseason.net

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Reading today’s message was  a step in healing! I know I have to let go. My hurt, disappointment, and anger at people and family who have let me down… It hurts so deeply, on top of your widowhood, to be excluded because they are uncomfortable! … But I need to have family and friends. I have already had my biggest loss imaginable! I am growing weary and more lonely. Widowhood is trying enough. Scripture speaks of God being my husband now but He doesn’t physically eat with me, sleep beside me, hold me in His arms, go out with me, give me physical hugs, talk to me verbally, fix broken stuff, take the car to the garage, take out the garbage! …  So when there is no one to love me, how does God help me? I just have to believe it. But it is so abstract! … I need to feel God in a solid, real way! It feels superficial. I thought God would show up concrete, in my friends to comfort me in the darkest night of my soul. I need God in a realistic way. I do lots of volunteering, and reach out to others hurting, go to a small group, counselling, and support group . But I feel like I’m chasing the wind.

***

Thank you so much for writing out your thoughts in such a way, and sharing them with us.  Many of us have had similar thoughts go through our heads — we need a “husband” who takes out the trash and protects us in storms. I can relate to that! Unfortunately, it seems to be “normal” in many widows’ lives.

I personally struggle with wanting God to respond the way I want Him to respond in my timing.  I find it helpful to read the Psalms.  The authors let God know how frustrated they are.  How unjust the world is. How wicked people succeed. But it seems the Psalmists always come back to what is true about God. That is where I have to land every time.  I have to cling to truth, not feeling.  I love my feelings and want to grasp them with all my might… That right there is my hardest struggle.  My feelings get hurt, my feelings are not validated by others, my feelings say that I must not be loved.  But God loves me so much He allowed His only Son to suffer, bleed, and die a horrible death FOR ME. For you.  That is the truth.
If He does nothing else for me, that is more than I deserve right there.
Grace.
Eternal life…
I love it when I find little nuggets in Scripture.  The story of Anna in Luke 2 amazes me.  She was an old widow and had only been married for seven years. Now at eighty-four, she was known for her devotion to prayer and worship.  That right there is what I want to be known for…
If she got married as a teen, like it may have been back then, then she lived maybe sixty years completely focused on worship and prayer.  I have a long way to go in order to be known for that, for sure.  She wasn’t known for anything else.  That puts my life in perspective.  All this other stuff is like icing on the cake.  The most important stuff is right there.
So how do we live this journey with grace? I think we do it like Anna.  It sounds so simple but I know it isn’t. We expect so much out of Christians, don’t we? We honestly believe they will want to support us but they fail us. We honestly want to believe God will take care of us, but bad things keep coming our way. So all I can do is keep trusting God when everything around makes no sense.
Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. Have you seen our devotionals for sale on our website?  It is one way we find to put our thoughts on Scripture as we go through our days.
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If you want to read more on the widow Anna from Luke 2, click here.
More on friendships? Kit has written some great articles here and here and here.

Friendship and Loss: Forgiveness

Today is our last in a series this month focusing on friendships. We talked about how normal it is to have shifts in your friendships after loss (read it here).  Then we dealt with your friend’s perspective–what she’s going through.(read it here).  Today, we’ll talk about forgiveness and reconciliation. Oh, how we all want that–no matter how disappointed you and your friend are with each other.

Fear not, for I am with you;

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

“I no longer click with the clique.”

Can you relate?

Years ago I sat with my husband by my side watching my pastor’s wife speak these words in a message she gave before the congregation.

“In my heart I want to hang out with the other ladies,” she said, “but I serve a calling that keeps me away. Sometimes it’s  a lonely walk without them.”

I was one of the ladies in a clique she couldn’t spend time with. We’d meet daily with our small children. We shared our hopes and burdens. It was a sweet group. But the pastor’s wife couldn’t join us.  She was called into other roles–helping to lead our church’s women’s ministry and working to help provide for her family.

As I watched her describe her loneliness, I only saw strength and confidence and figured that surely it was worth the lonely walk.  After all, she was following her call, and the fruits of her obedience were obvious. I couldn’t fully understand her pain from my comfortable position within my group of friends.

Until I too got called away from the clique. Just as the pastor’s wife with her call to be in a compellingly demanding role in life, I was now having to be in a demanding role in life–that of a single mom.

Only I wasn’t drawn in with a gentle calling. No one said, Kit, I want you to answer my call and run the whole household, manage your finances and spiritually lead your home.

Instead, the one who was supposed to run the household and finances and be spiritual leader was whisked into Heaven without warning, leaving me responsible for the family’s future.  A purpose, but not one that I took on by choice.

Suddenly, I got what the pastor’s wife was saying.  I couldn’t just hang out with them in the same way.  I was in crisis, and my friends were still in that place of having the time to fellowship often.

They rode that grief wave with me, but some only rode it for a short while.

My heart ached for our lost easy fellowship. For a time it was like another hole ripped through my heart–first my husband, now my friends. I would ask myself:

Do they love me? Yes, they brought meals, included me where they could, called on me and helped me get my feet back on the ground.

Have they hurt me? Yes, but who hasn’t fallen short in this lifetime? I know I’ve offended others. And don’t I expect forgiveness?

Finally I took a bold step to forgive. I met with God in my backyard with a handful of dandelions, imagining each of these pretty fluff balls contained the many many seeds of uneasy feelings about one of these precious woman in life. I held up the stalk of the flower and thought about that friend.  Then, I scattered the little seedlings into the wind, announcing my forgiveness and recognition for her love to the Heavens

With the seeds scattered in the wind, I let the offenses go, welcoming their loving attempts to encourage me.

Today I still meet these woman occasionally for coffee.  We’re not as close, but neither am I wounded by bitter thoughts. The result? Friendships that have a chance of lasting a lifetime–even if they won’t be the close friendships I had started with. I can rest assured that I am not alone. Isaiah 41:10.

Lord, can You bring every friendship into your Grace focus?  Help each sister forgive her sister and accept that friendships can wax and wane over life’s seasons.  Amen. 

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a homeschool mom to teen boys. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

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

F is for Forgive by Kit Hinkle

Stop Feeding the Dragon by Kit Hinkle