The Valley of the Shadow

 

 

The valley of the shadow…

What is it?

I used to believe it referred to fear of facing terminal illness, or fearing death itself. And it still might mean that to some. But I now realize it can also mean walking through the shadow of death as one left behind.

How to describe walking through this valley?

Feeling dazed and confused. Navigating a deep, dark, winding pathway with no guardrails in sight.

Fear!

Understandably, my husband’s unexpected death shook me to my core. In that moment nothing felt safe or secure. Our family as we knew it was gone forever, yet I was supposed to carry on as head of our home; to lead our children without him.

For the first time in life, I feared the future.

Initially, fear coursed through my veins. Listening to the frightened child within that wanted to curl up and shut out the world would have been easy. But faith in God and the example of other believers would not let me dwell in that world of fear.

My grandmother, twice widowed, gave me hope to find happiness after loss. And I remembered the faithful example of my great-aunt, widowed through tragedy; she was the one who helped me and countless others memorize Psalm 23 at her private kindergarten.

David gave us words to live by in that Psalm, where he reminded himself to rest in God no matter what his circumstance.

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

 

David did not get a free pass to go around the valley. He had to walk through it. So did my grandmother and my great-aunt. Now it was my turn. Believers called to walk through the valley will have access to God’s rod and staff to receive comfort. Clinging to that allowed me to rise above the fear that threatened to overtake my mind.

Over five years have passed since I began my personal journey through the valley. Many life events have taken place.

I have successfully homeschooled and graduated four of our five children, bought and sold homes, and made financial decisions alone. I have married again to a wonderful man and blended our families.

God has helped me overcome fear of the unknown and of failure.

Yet fear still tries to raise its ugly head in unexpected ways sometimes.

I attribute that to the valley of the shadow of death, and as a result I am not sure it will ever go completely away. Mostly, it arises now when I hear of someone else facing trauma or loss. Because I know the pain and the fear they are facing, I feel panic begin. It is a sympathetic response on my part. I don’t want anyone to suffer that pain and fear.

Honestly, sometimes it also still shows up when I feel out of control in my own life. I quickly take myself back to Scripture that comforted me before, not just one verse, but the whole chapter of Psalm 23.

And as promised, He restores my soul.

 

Father, the valley of the shadow of death is not an easy place to be. Naturally, we want to remain on the mountaintop instead, although we know that is not possible. We know You are with us on our journey and Your rod and staff do comfort us. Please help us to cling to Your word for the restoration of our weary souls, and allow us to dwell in Your house forever. 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:  I Cry Out

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Sometimes We Stay Put When the Door is Open

All the signs were there. The “open doors”. The obvious connections. The chemistry.

I met someone (a man) at an event, and we immediately hit it off. We had known each other in a “previous” life — you know how the story goes…Reacquainted after the death of our spouses.

It was all there. The spiritual connection. The humor. The intellectual side. We had similar backgrounds. On and on it went.

I truly wasn’t interested in anything beyond yet, so I was enjoying all aspects of this new found friendship. Texting about our days. Sharing recipes (how funny is that?!). Meeting a few times for lunch. I was in the middle of trying to sell my home, move, downsize– in other words,  I was very settled in this community. 

So when the friendship came to a screeching halt because he decided to get married (to someone else!), I was, once again, angry at God. A little at the guy maybe. But God, because He seemed to open all these doors, but then didn’t let me walk through. Sounded like a Bible passage I remembered reading…

Remember the passage in Acts 16? Let me set the story up.

Paul and Silas were in jail. Beaten with rods, stripped, taken to the inner cell, feet fastened in stocks. Around midnight, they were praying and singing hymns with the other prisoners listening, when suddenly there was a terrible earthquake. The floors shook. the doors opened, and the chains fell off!

Let me just stop there a second and say something. We have been having some pretty controversial big earthquakes in Oklahoma over the past few years. I was awakened from sleep with the last big one. But I have never EVER had one knock doors open or make my bed come apart or my lamps fall from shelves. That would be one frightening earthquake.

So back to the prisoners. All their chains were broken. They were free. Paul and Silas had open doors. Were they praying for release? Was this their answer from God? They knew God had walked Peter out of jail. It could happen, they thought. God opens doors in crazy ways.

This time God opened doors and said, “Sit your bottoms down and don’t you move them.” At least that’s how I imagine Him saying it…

The jailer came running in to see, planning to kill himself because he knew they had all made a run for it. We know nothing about the other prisoners. Maybe some became followers of Paul and Silas from then on. We know one thing for certain. The jailer, poised to plunge the knife into his own neck, found all the prisoners sitting there accounted for. What kind of God would lead them to sit when the doors are open?

No one sits when the doors are open, do they? But sometimes God tells us to.

God brought the jailer to Paul and Silas and then turned around, bringing Paul and Silas to the jailer’s home.

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!”

If Paul and Silas had said, “Here’s our answer to prayer! Open doors! Let’s go!” we don’t know that the jailer and his family would have been saved.

Sometimes God tells us to sit when the doors are open. Because He has another plan. A different plan. A unique plan. Just for me. Sometimes the open door makes so much more sense to our human minds. But God wants us to follow Him, even when it means to sit still.

Don’t look for open doors today. Listen to God. He might be nudging you to walk through or just sit still for a while longer.

Father God, thank You for guiding us and providing for us. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the way You are leading us today. Let us sit still with patience when necessary and move with enthusiasm when You send us forward. 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. 

You can read more articles about dating by clicking here.

You might want to read more articles about hearing God’s voice through Scripture. Click here. 

Sexual Purity, Even More as a Widow

I did a little internet search of widows and sexual purity.

Wow!

What an eye-opening and shocking experience.

Let me start by saying our ministry is set apart from many other widow support groups, mainly because we want to point you FIRST to God’s Word as Truth. We are not going to give you what our culture expresses as truth. We aren’t going to sugar-coat it. Scripture has some absolutes on this subject that we support.

Some in our culture have decided to change the meaning in Scripture so it makes things “easier” for them during the dating days. If we are in a “committed” relationship, they say, then we can justify sex outside of marriage. Some bloggers even suggest to widows that having a purely sexual relationship is an acceptable way to satisfy that part of our need.

I’m going to propose that during widowhood, we need to stand even more firm on the foundation of sexual purity, even though we are no longer virgins. We do not have a “free pass” to sleep with whomever we want, just because it “doesn’t make a difference” this time around. It does make a difference, even as non-virgins, because it affects others when we live an impure life – not just ourselves.

We can apply Scripture to help us remember how important purity is before the Lord, by using them. 

T.H.E.M.

Who is the them?

It could be the community of believers,  a future husband,  friends, children, or unbelievers.

  1. TEMPLE: Our bodies are a temple so we should keep it holy and unblemished. I Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
  2. HUSBAND: God is your husband. You would be unfaithful to Him as your husband if you are sexually involved with men before marriage. Isaiah 54;5 ESV For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
  3. EXAMPLE: Especially when there are children in the home, we must set a moral example to them. You are an example to other widows who are new on their widowhood journey also.   I Timothy 4:12 ESV but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
  4. MARRY: In the New Testament references I looked up, sex was condoned and even encouraged within the context of marriage, never outside of those boundaries.  I Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. Also  I Timothy 5:3-15   

Sexual purity does matter, sisters. It matters to God and should matter to us.

When I think there are things in life that are just too hard to handle or just too difficult to keep up with, I always remember Hebrews 12. Words like endurance, weary, struggle, discipline jump out at me. The widow-life is never a time to give up, and the moral high-road can be challenging.  Yet we can do it in God’s strength!

But what if I have made some poor decisions due to my extreme loneliness? I haven’t stayed pure. Is it too late to start over? NO! It is never too late for a new start. God is in the forgiveness business! I John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is FAITHFUL and TRUE to His nature to FORGIVE us, CLEANSE us, and make us whole again. 

This doesn’t really pertain to me. I’m not at ALL interested in remarriage for the remainder of my life. Why is this topic important to me? Glad you asked! Titus 2 is a wonderful passage that instructs the “older” women to lead the “younger” women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure so that the Word of God can’t be criticized by outsiders. You can play a role in encouraging others to stay pure!

Let’s accept the challenge!

Lord God, we believe we are a temple in which Your Spirit lives. You have given us all we need to accept the challenge. Help us endure, even while weary, the discipline of living a life of purity. Guide us through the pitfalls our culture throws at us everyday through advertisements, TV shows, and all that comes our way. And thank You for the forgiveness we need each day. Amen


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

Elizabeth finds humor in the daily grind of six children, a large dog, a noisy cat, and all the school and church activities they can fit in. Their house is full of instruments including flutes, piccolo, piano, oboe, saxophones, clarinets, guitars, and a trumpet. 2013 began with Elizabeth losing her husband then her father, sending one child to college and another to kindergarten. Through that tearful year, the family has learned to laugh together again. She loves Psalm 1 and historical fiction, dreams of traveling by train around Europe, and has already planned her mid-life crisis (should the opportunity ever present itself).

 

 

Other articles on purity:

The Physical Loss  by Lori

Marital Bed by Erika

Dating by Kit

Other articles by Elizabeth 

 

 

What We Know To Be True

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

                                                   2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

Have you ever been really, really, sure of something …only to find out you were completely wrong?

My funniest example happened when I was twelve. I lived in Okinawa, Japan and getting to go to the one movie theater on base was a Big deal. Here’s how the conversation with my Dad went:

Me: Daddy, can we go see this movie (rated X).

Dad : Why do you want to see that one?

Me:  Because it is rated X.

Dad: Why do you want to see an X rated movie?

Me:  Because it is excellent.

Dad:  Why do you think that?

Me:  Because it says so, X is for eXcellent, R is for Really Good, PG is for Pretty Good and G is for Good.

At which point my Dad broke into laughter and explained the ratings system to me. A funny little exchange but what I remember most was how sure I was that I was right. And I learned that just because I feel certain something is right does not mean that it is right.

It has turned out to be a very valuable lesson in my life. Something I have reflected on often as a widow; particularly when I am feeling depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. I have learned to “test” my feelings to see if they line up with God’s truth. Here are a few examples:

 

My Feeling: God’s truth:
My life is over. Ps 139:16  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I have no purpose anymore. Acts 20:24  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
God doesn’t love me / no one loves me. 1 John 2:5  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him.
I am not “good” enough. Titus 3:4-7  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
God doesn’t care about this… Matt 6:31-33  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I have nothing more to give. Phil 1:3-6  I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I will never be happy again. James 1:2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

These are just some of the feelings that I have experienced on this journey. I am so thankful for His word, His truth that is so useful in correcting my thinking and feelings.

Dear sisters, I pray that you will be immersed in Him, in His truth so that you may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. You are precious, because you are His. And nothing can ever change that truth. Much love to each of you!

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? Stay Connected

Want to read another article? It’s Okay To Be Real!

 

 

No Longer a Slave to Fear

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

Fear – it’s one of the many emotions we experience in grief. Fear gripped me tightly early on. The darkness wrapped its arms around me and tried to take control, like a relentless evil that would not stop pursuing me. I felt alone and afraid of anything and everything.

The fear was so strong, it nearly paralyzed me. I could not walk into a room alone. I could not drive. I constantly felt like someone or something was after me and felt evil was following me at every turn. I was at war and wondered how I would ever live my life.

Though the feelings of fear are not as heavy, it is the feeling that continues to try and take hold of me.

Most recently I was planning to attend a concert in Texas a day after a terrorist attack took place during a concert in England, where 22 perished. The next morning, without any evidence of something happening at the concert I was going to attend, I hesitated to go. There are other days when fear’s lies tell me I may lose my son or my second husband. Fear can make us afraid and convince us we cannot step forward after the loss of our husbands. But that is what Satan does … he sees vulnerability and uses fear to attack. Don’t let him. During those moments, let your knees hit the floor and pray.

When we lean on Jesus, that all-consuming fear won’t last forever. I chose to attend the concert, and I choose to continue stepping forward in my life after loss, because I know who is in control. The Lord never intended for his children to live in fear.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

From those first few days, after the shock subsided some, I remember feeling the Holy Spirit at work. Though my life was full of chaos and devastation, I found peace and strength in knowing the Lord is sovereign, and though I did not understand, I trusted Him. But the darkness and fear didn’t go away without a fight. I’ve mentioned this before, night after night, for months, I clung to a wooden cross whispering the words, “Jesus, help me.”

And, He did. His faithfulness protected me. He has rescued me from the all-consuming fear. Today, when fear tries to pursue me and feels too strong, I lean on the One who is stronger.

Lord, We need you. Protect us from fear and anxiety and from the evil one. You are in control, and you will give us Your strength when we turn to You. Help us step forward, without fear, to share Your story of strength and faithfulness. There will not be a day when we do not miss our husbands, but we know there is still joy to be found on this earth. Help each of us to find it. In Your precious name, we pray. 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.

Want to read another article by Jennifer? Two Years and Trusting in Him

Want to read another article about fear? Fear at 35,000 Feet

 

It’s Okay To Be Real!

“It’s okay to be real!”

I repeated that phrase multiple times after my husband died — to my children, to myself, and later to other widows.

There is no “right” way to grieve.

We all process differently. Some people are private. Some spill every thought and emotion for all to see.

I was a new widow with five children, all trying to process our loss. It would have been great to think that together we would follow a set path of grief from one stage to the next. That is not how it worked.

I have a couple of children who analyzed each thought as we talked. Others would dump a load of thoughts at one time but did not expect to discuss them. Some wanted to rush through grief by listening to every sad song they could get their hands on. Others did not want to hear anything sad and fell apart listening to music in general.

WHEW!

I wondered how I would cope and work through my own grief while helping my children who approached it differently. Then I remembered airplane protocol during an emergency landing — I needed to take care of me FIRST, in order to help them.

Grief rolls like a rollercoaster!

Grief can be ugly. At its most raw, it can make other people feel helpless and uncomfortable. Covering up our feelings in order to please others or keep them from concern does not help anyone.

That is why I told my children, “It’s okay to be real!”.

Pretending grief is not there because you don’t want to go through the pain is not an option either. Eventually each stage hits you, ready or not. Repeatedly directing yourself back to God’s Word for your response to grief makes it easier to navigate in times of need.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:15-16 (ESV)

We each had needy days when grief felt like the gravitational pull of the earth magnified solely on us, paralyzing even normal movement. For me those days were few. When they came around I was very intentional to allow my mind and body to have much needed rest. I was watchful of my children and when I saw they were having one of those days I directed their activities to stop for necessary down time.

Other days we felt more capable of navigating life, though grief was still present. On those days we resumed normal activities. We attempted to move forward the way my husband would have encouraged us to do.

The best days included laughter again over things large and small. The blessing of uncontrollable laughter that returned was the best because we all loved to laugh.

In hindsight, our differences were a blessing from God.

One or more would encourage any who were having a bad day. After the initial shock of our loss, I don’t remember many times when everyone struggled simultaneously. Even on dreaded “first” celebration days it was amazing how we helped each other. We learned flexibility and to read each other’s distress signals well.

There is nothing abnormal about grieving openly, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for some people to observe. Jesus Christ set our example at the death of his friend, Lazarus:

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (ESV)

Friends told us it helped them to see how our family grieved together because we made it easy for others to grieve with us. One dear friend told me she was determined to interact differently with her own children after watching me grieve openly with mine because she had never let her children see her cry about anything. Learning to grieve with others is a blessing.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (ESV)

It’s okay to be real!

 

Lord, please help us to allow other people to share in both our joy and in our grief. We do not know what added blessing may come from our willingness to be real in our relationships. Make us aware of the needs of those around us who might not realize that they can be real with us, too. Please help them to know that we care. 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:  All Eyes are NOT on You   Get Over It 

When the Shoe is On the Other Foot

My cell phone rang one afternoon. I glanced at the caller ID and saw it was one of my “widow sisters”.

Our “small talk” was cut short when she jumped right into the reason for her calling. She felt awful because of a friendship that has been wounded.

Remember all the times you have struggled with losing friendships after the loss of your husband?

“Why would she avoid me like this?”

“What did I do to make them not want to include me anymore?”

“She never even called me after my greatest loss!”

We have written several articles about these situations because the loss of friendships after the loss of our husbands is like a double-whammy. We needed these friends, and they weren’t there for us.

My friend was in tears because she realized she was ONE of those friends this time. A high- profile death occurred in her city, and she wasn’t in the closest circle of friends. The husband passed away suddenly, and my friend was advised to “lay low” for a while, but was in constant prayer for the family. The families had such an interesting relationship over about twenty years. Picture frames held glimpses of outrageously fun trips with her children. Always her prayer list included members of this family.

Now, many months after the man’s death, an email showed up in my friend’s mail.

“Where have you been?”

“Of all people, you should have been here.”

Like a knife, it stuck in her heart.

The shoe was on HER foot this time. She was ONE of those friends. My friend is so thoughtful and a true prayer-warrior. She never would be like this. But she listened to advice that now had come back to hurt them both. She remembered those friends who stepped out of the picture when her own husband died as a young father. She remembered the empty feeling of not having a close connection during the most painful time as a young solo parent. And now the pain of knowing she had done the same thing unintentionally was devastating.

As I listened, one word came to my mind.

Grace.

But he said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for YOU, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Sometimes we have to give ourselves grace, not to mention others.

Sometimes we have to embrace our failures so Christ is able to shine through. Just like the pieces of a stained glass window are most beautiful when the sun shines through, we are most beautiful when we let Christ show through our weaknesses. The people who see this will know for sure it is God and not our own strength.

My advice to my beautiful friend was to do what she had already been led by God to do: contact her immediately and apologize. She needed to let this friend know she had never ceased praying for her and her family. Not sure of the new widow’s spiritual standing, my friend never intended to be a stumbling block to her faith journey.

Guilt over mistakes and weaknesses is not from God.

But allowing Christ to shine through our cracks and broken pieces is often when others see Him the brightest.

Have you been unintentionally aloof to another new widow, just waiting for the “right time” to say something but never seeing a chance? Have you not reached out to another friend when you should have? We all are guilty of things in friendships that hurt others. But I find it so easy to point out the people in my life who have not been the friend I needed. This call from my friend was a reminder to me to evaluate MY part in friendships.

Lord Jesus, thank You for opportunities to share the comfort You have given us through our deepest valley and darkest days. Give us chances each day to shine Your light so others can see it in our weaknesses. Friends are a gift so help us appreciate the friends we have while looking for ways we can be a better friend to others. 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 a great article about friendships from Erika.

Another great article from Kit.

 

Stay Connected

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

                                                                                John 15:5 ESV

 What are you living for? It’s a question we come face to face with when our world is turned upside down by the loss of our spouses. My answer is I live to glorify God. There is only one way I can accomplish that purpose, I have to stay connected.

One of the first verses I memorized was John 15:5. But of course I memorized it WRONG. My version ended with “apart from me you ARE nothing” instead of “apart from me you CAN DO nothing.” Amazing what a difference those two little words make. I still chuckle when I think about this verse and my mistake. Over time, this mistake has become a two-fold lesson. First, it became a lesson about who I am in Christ – I am not, nor could I ever be, nothing to God. Secondly, it became a lesson about the importance of meditating on God’s word. Two critical lessons that have sustained me, challenged me, and strengthened me, throughout my journey.

When I became a widow, I struggled with who I was since I was no longer a wife. Several times the Holy Spirit reminded me of the truth I had learned from John 15:5. God is the vine and I am the branch. Being the branch – an extension of the vine – is amazing. Whether I am a wife or a widow, doesn’t change the reality that God created me to be His creation, connected to Him. No matter how alone I feel, how overwhelmed I get or how many tears I cry, I am still something. I am His creation, whom He loves. He has created me to draw my strength and my life from Him – the vine.

Over time, this verse has fundamentally changed my understanding of who I really am. Wisdom and understanding made possible only by the Holy Spirit helping me truly meditate on God’s word. I thought about this verse repeatedly until it seemed like it permeated every crevice of my brain. In addition to teaching me who I am, this verse reminds me how important it is to stay connected to God.

Early in my widow journey, I found it unbelievably difficult to read. Decades of being able to pick up my bible and receive comfort or wisdom whenever I needed, was suddenly something I was incapable of doing. At first, it was a few days, then a few weeks, and then it started to stretch into months, I started to panic. I tried reading my bible, reading devotionals, listening to Christian music. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually, I felt prompted by the Spirit to start writing devotionals, which seemed crazy at the time. How could I write, when I couldn’t even read? Writing turned out to be exactly what I needed to help me meditate on God’s word and stay connected to Him.

Are you struggling? Then breathe in the truth that God is the vine and you are the branch. Your identity, your strength, your life, comes from your connection to Him. Nothing can change that truth. Wait for God to supply the life and the direction you need, which can only come from Him. Trust – you are His creation whom He loves. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you so you stay connected!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches us Your truth and who provides comfort and guidance. Help us to meditate on Your truth and to glorify You in all we say and do! Amen.

 


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

If you are interested in having Sheryl or another team member speak please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Want to read another article by this author? Draw Closer

Want to read another article? 5 things to help us heal by Elizabeth

Acceptance?

In the beginning, the idea of accepting the death of my husband seemed totally impossible, mainly because I could give so many reasons why his death was unacceptable! God knows, I thrashed against acceptance, my heart broken, my life and future an alien place I never envisioned. Question marks dangled at the ends of my thoughts. If answers were the pathway to acceptance, I suspected it would forever elude me. However, the knowledge that God is good, no matter what, helped to gently usher me towards acceptance.

More deeply still I discovered that faith is anchored to the character of God in the storms of life.

GOD is ATTENTIVE

  • “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jer. 33:3 (ESV)
  • “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:15 (ESV)
  • “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”- Matthew 6:31,32 (ESV)

GOD is COMPASSIONATE and FAITHFUL

  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
  • ”But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15 (ESV)
  • “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV) (We are His kids!)

The knowledge of God’s character was a comfort as I wrestled to make sense of my finances, reconciled medical bills, and relocated to a new home, all within the first year. During that time, and well beyond, I toggled back and forth within the stages of grief but did not get close to accepting my husband’s absence. Ultimately, I flirted with acceptance before I could really exhale there.

I discovered acceptance isn’t the absence of missing or loving my sweetheart. Instead it is making peace with the loss, and learning how to integrate my husband’s death into my present life.

Once the initial numbness left, for a long while I felt I was going through the motions of living. A broken heart takes time to heal, and it was impossible to gather those broken pieces. God had them though. He cherished them and cared for them, while enabling me gradually to re-engage my heart in living. It was under the wing of God’s loving care, and with the anchor of knowing His goodness, that He knit together the broken pieces and I could fully engage in my altered life. Love, longing for my husband’s presence, and moments of sorrow remain. Yet, in making peace with the tremendous loss of my beloved, I have found a new peace in the present and am invested in living until I’m called home. I believe this is called “acceptance.”

“For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100:5 (ESV)

All-Present God, may our faith not be circumstantial but anchored by the eternal consistency of your character, confident in your steadfast love. Lord, please lead us to accept the healing of our hearts and lives for the future you have in your sights for each of us. Thank you that our futures are as unique for each as each is unique. We look to You and thank you that while we don’t see our path, You guide us step by step. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.


 

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.

For more reading on the topic of God’s anchoring us throughout the stages of grief, you may enjoy these:

Applying Peace by Lori

Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me by Karen

 

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.

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