Will We Choose Misery or Ministry?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What will we choose? Misery or ministry?

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

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


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

 

 

 

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

Articles with a similar theme: Breathing In HopeNew Paint

The Joy of the Lord!

Pursuing Joy by Lori Streller

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

Do you ever feel like you are chasing joy?

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

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

Joy is attainable because it resides inside of you already.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pursue it.

Claim it.

Thrive in it.

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

How?

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

Be still.

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

Look for the positive.

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

Find the humor.

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

Focus on gratitude.

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

Meditate on Scripture. 

Here are a few to get you started:

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

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

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

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


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

 

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

In Your Steadfast Love, Give Me Life!

“In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.”

Psalm 119:88 (ESV)

 

The waves of grief crash over my heart. I groan in the agony of distress; then just as quickly peace washes over my soul but a longing for HOME remains there. Oh, have mercy on me, Dear Lord! My heart is torn open and I feel numb! Nothing seems to mean anything…

The family on the beach is unaware of what I see as I sit here on my ninth floor balcony.  A mother laughingly videos daddy holding their little girl’s hand as the pair walk away from  her. “HOLD ON TIGHT!” I want to scream at them. Now, the daddy is filming the mother and daughter as they walk away, alone. Will they one day walk by themselves again, without him because they have no choice? Will their hearts break as they watch another family video on the beach? Will this pain I feel ever go away? How can the world keep turning and life for everyone just be normal? My life seemingly ended on April 20, 2012; yet I am still stuck here, supposed to carry on…how? By Your strength and Your steadfast love alone, Lord.

The above is taken from a piece of paper that has been in my Bible since May 8, 2012. It was written just two weeks after my husband’s sudden death. Our family was blessed with a trip to the beach to help us process our grief. This paper remains nestled between  two pages of Psalm 119, where I was studying during that time. It is a reminder to me of how far the Lord has carried me since that time.

It has been almost five years since my first husband died, and never once did God leave me or forsake me.

That sunny morning He gave me just the first of many reminders that His strength alone would carry me through the worst of times. My mind and heart were screaming in pain, but He gently took me back to where He wanted me to remain, enfolded in His arms and constantly in His Word. He has been so gracious to provide just what I needed each day to help me grow in my love and trust for Him over the years. Now He has blessed me with another man to call my husband; but I never want to forget how God provided strength and comfort to me right from the beginning of my widow journey. I leave this paper reminder in my Bible so that I will tangibly touch both my grief and my confidence in God whenever I turn to that passage of Scripture.

Sisters, God’s love is a STEADFAST. In our lives as widows it may seem that everything is topsy-turvy and that nothing is steady or trustworthy. But we know from Scripture that God’s love is ALWAYS steady and reliable when our world is crashing down around us.

I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 119 if you have never done so. It is long, but taken in pieces, it can be a balm to the hurting, weary soul. I pray that you will allow God to bathe you in His words of comfort and to give you the heart knowledge of His steadfast love today as you go with me to Psalm 119:81-88.

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, When will you comfort me? For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.” Psalm 119:81-88 (ESV)

Father, today I pray that we will be strengthened and overwhelmed with Your steadfast love that leads to life in the midst of turmoil! I pray that it will be so real to us that we want to share You with everyone around us today and every day.


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:  Is This My Hope?

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.

 

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


 

12615501_10207224865214213_1344952754011757354_o

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 

 

Tie Me To the Mast!

Anchors and storms are a frequent theme with me. It started with the verse I put on my husband’s grave stone before anchors were a decorating thing! I included Hebrews 6:19 (We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. NIV) because it was one he loved and because I needed the hope at a time when I felt most hopeless.

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Photo by Sheryl Pepple’s late husband Dave on their sailing expeditions

We see anchors everywhere now. One funny thing we saw recently was a picture for the wall that had an anchor with the words “refuse to sink”. Okay, just let those words sink in a moment (pun intended…) Refuse to sink? What exactly is the job of an anchor? I have never been sailing like our lovely Sheryl Pepple, but I do believe that the very nature of an anchor is to SINK!! That is its job. Wouldn’t it be like a balloon with the words, “refuse to float”?

So in my quest to always find interesting things about storms and anchors, I heard a phrase I had never heard before. “Tie me to the mast” is a phrase used by Homer in the Odyssey when the captain of the ship wanted to prevent himself from being tempted by the sirens and crashing the ship on the rocks.

But the phrase is also used another way. In really severe storms, the sailors would tie themselves to the mast for safety. The mast was the strongest point so this would prevent them from being tossed overboard.

I have certainly faced some strong storms in the last few years. I believe any ONE of which could have tossed me into the abyss. You have had yours too. Was it marriage trouble? an eating disorder?  bankruptcy? cancer? eviction? a car wreck? addiction? On top of widowhood?

When these storms hit us, and they will, we have to have the ropes ready to strap ourselves to the mast of Truth – the Truth of God’s Word, the foundation of salvation found in Christ, and the forgiveness found at the Cross. We cannot be tossed around by the emotions we will have. Oh, I hear my emotions calling out to me, telling me that my feelings mean more than truth and that my feelings can be trusted this time. But they cannot ever be trusted to guide us in a storm. Feelings were not made for storms! Feelings are like the evil mermaids calling to us from the shore, willing us to untie the ropes from our safety at the mast and jump to our death in the water.

Tie me to the mast, sister. Hold me accountable to the Truth of Scripture. Call me out when I use the compass of my feelings instead of God as my True North.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105 KJV

Father God, guide me in life today. Show me the truth of Scripture and give me the desire to search its depths for pearls of wisdom. Protect me from my own emotions that try desperately to control me when Your Truth needs to be my guiding compass. Bring others into my life to hold me accountable to the Truth. Amen


 

12615501_10207224865214213_1344952754011757354_oElizabeth 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 that 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. 

Want to read more about anchors? My Anchor by our past team member Jill

Want to read more about Truth? Guide Me in Your Truth by Sheryl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruth Revisited

Recently I had a conversation with a close friend about my finances. We were discussing how I am TRYING to show my family how we are TRYING to live within our means. What do we do when my son is on the track team and needs a new pair of good running shoes? Or when the high school adds a policy of charging for being a part of the marching band? When there is still part of the month left at the end of our money? Do my children see me running to God for direction, running to use the credit cards, or calling a friend to ask for financial help?

This is a widow’s website; so naturally, we have written about Ruth. She lost her young love and found another love in Boaz. Eventually, down her line of offspring King David came and then, Jesus the Messiah. It is a great story, but I sometimes forget about her life BEFORE Boaz. I can get caught up in the romance and intrigue of finding new love and forget some of the details of her early life as a widow. And that’s when I noticed a verse for the first time.

Ruth 2:12 ESV… the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!

People noticed that Ruth had found her security and worth under the wings of the Lord of Hosts, God Almighty. This pagan widow, caring for her bitter mother-in-law, living off the good graces of the crop owners nearby, had found the true God of Israel to be her strength.

Can others see that in me?

For the first time, this verse in Ruth jumped out at me. Especially in light of my conversation about my finances. What does it mean to “take refuge” under God’s wings? Was Ruth from a wealthy family? Was begging in the fields totally new to her? Did she have to change what she was wearing-from lovely rich cloth to rough dirty cloth? Naomi may have had wealthy family members, and maybe she wasn’t much help in instructing her daughter-in-law in the skills of clearing a field.  What a testimony to God’s love, it could have been to the pagan Ruth, to have Naomi’s family members take them in and love on them. What if they had been feeding and caring for them, in the name of Jehovah? But that wasn’t God’s plan. Did Ruth discuss with Naomi any other way to provide for them? Did they ever think they were “above” this kind of work?

“Taking refuge” includes humility. We definitely see that in the way Ruth handled it all.

Ruth never demanded kindness from the Israelites. Never. She gleaned the fields “in hope” that someone would show her kindness. Their kindness was not a “debt” she felt entitled to. She humbly offered her service to Naomi.

Ruth was industrious – we have no record of her offering to go to the relatives for hand-outs. She got busy in the fields. “Taking refuge” also includes getting after the work God provides at the time, not concerned about the work that might come somewhere in the future, while sitting around doing nothing.

Ruth didn’t ask Naomi to help glean. These were Naomi’s people.Perhaps she should have been the one gleaning, but Ruth knew respect and, in respect, she “took refuge” by being respectful of the people in her life.

Ruth ventured out into the unknown, while God directed her steps. Sometimes “taking refuge” means taking a new direction.

So today I ask myself – is it evident to those around me that I have taken refuge under the shelter of God?

Is it evident to all around me that I take refuge NOT in myself, NOT in some trust fund, NOT in a new spouse, NOT in pride, NOT in my perfect budget?

My shelter is in God alone:

  • Humbly doing what God has put before me
  • Never demanding kindness from others
  • Being industrious and busy with the work He provides
  • Being respectful
  • Taking a new direction perhaps

Lord Jesus, Almighty God, thank You for being my shelter. Help me accept the kindness of others without expecting kindness or feeling entitled to anyone’s generosity. I declare today that I take refuge in You alone. I pray that others can see this in my life. Amen


 

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Elizabeth is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might. She 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! Oh, and 1 hermit crab that continues to hold onto life some how. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that 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.”

 

If you are interested in having our team speak at your next event, contact us at admin@anewseason.net

Would you like to read more articles by Elizabeth? Click here!

Want to read more on Ruth? I am Mara by Sherry  & The Widow Ruth by Kit

 

I will.

The city is under siege, the enemy coming, and destruction is imminent. It has been foretold, and it is happening. The people have gone astray, wandering far from the God who brought them into the land. Wrath is impending. And you deserve it.

Jeremiah I want you to go buy a field. Your cousin will come and say, “Buy my field…for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”  (Jeremiah 32:7)

So you buy the field. You sign the deed, seal it, find witnesses, and weigh out the coins.

“Put them in an earthenware vessel, that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in the land.” (Jeremiah 32:14-15)

But still you don’t understand. Lord, what you have spoken has come to pass, but you ask me to buy a field?

I completely get why Jeremiah was so baffled. Who in their right mind would take time to buy a field when his city was under attack? That’s crazy talk.

Ah, but here’s the twist.

“Behold I am the LORD, the God of all flesh, is anything too hard for me?”

In the midst of the destruction and judgment that God Himself brought (and rightly so, for His people were utterly rebellious), He again reiterates who He is and His unshakeable commitment to redeem and restore. 

Nothing is too hard for Him. This God promises to bring his people back. He promises the way of mercy and grace.

“Behold I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness with all my heart and soul. For thus says that Lord: just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I promise them. Fields shall be bought in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:37-43)

I WILL.

Woah. What a string of radical, extravagant, thoroughly overwhelming promises!

  • I will gather them.
  • I will bring them back.
  • I will make them dwell in safety.
  • I will be their God.
  • I will give them one heart.
  • I will make an everlasting covenant.
  • I will NOT turn away from doing them good.
  • I will rejoice in doing them good.
  • I will plant them.

“with all my heart and soul”

I will bring ALL the good that I promise! 

Believer this is for you. This is your God. He puts all the “I wills” on Himself.

He is THIS good.

As Jeremiah was kinsman redeemer, so would the ultimate Kinsman Redeemer come! The right of redemption belongs to Jesus. Praise God, redemption by purchase is His!

In Jesus we’ve been gathered, planted, and grafted in to His everlasting covenant. He makes us dwell in safety. He restores.

Doesn’t this just make your heart sing?

Jeremiah’s deed was sealed in an earthen jar, but now believers are sealed by the blood of Christ. We’re sealed by that which will never disintegrate, by something that lasts far longer than “a long time.”

I can’t help but see this passage through my “widow glasses.” The death of my husband was not God’s judgment, but my heart was surely under siege. My life felt ransacked, broken, and desolate. A thousand questions tumbled like laundry in a dryer, and I was more than baffled by what God was doing.

But my God is THIS good.

Even when life felt utterly shattered, it was not. For I will never know true destruction because Jesus was destroyed in my place.

He bought this “field.”

Therefore, no matter how deep the deep days were, I was kept, the deed already sealed. In Jesus, the exponential promises were already true.

“I WILL,” says your God.

He Has.


Ami is a Kindergarten teacher turned Developmental Therapist turned writer. Ami also assists the elders at her local church through counseling and ladies’ ministry. She began writing two weeks after her husband died in January 2013. The ramblings were her honest, raw, thoughts as a 30 year old, childless widow desperately trying to process the tsunami. She felt strongly that she needed to let others see the journey and let God use it to break down stereotypes of Christian grief. Now she writes to equip, encourage, and comfort those on similar paths.

 

If you would like to have Ami or one of our team members speak at your event, email us at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Ami Atkins

Other posts with a similar theme by our team:  Goodness, How blind faith blind-sided (and blessed) me, or Choosing to Celebrate

 

The Bride and the Widow

 

I love the imagery of the Bride of Christ, the beauty, the grace, the elegance. It brings such a lovely picture to my mind; remembering my wedding day, walking down the aisle to meet my beloved, surrounded by friends and family, feeling absolutely stunning in my handmade white gown.

But what comes to mind with “widow”? Haggard, lonely, old, wrinkled, sad, feeling forgotten in a dark dress…

In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul begins a discussion on how we are not under the power of the law any more as believers in Christ- we are under the power of the Spirit. I’ve read this passage many times before, keeping the sections of Scripture separated into very distinct boxes in my mind. Yes, I get it- the widow is not bound to her husband anymore and is free to marry again. But flowing right out of that statement is the next truth-believers are no longer bound to the law but to the Spirit. The imagery he uses is a WIDOW!! You and me! We are as widows an example of believers allowing the Holy Spirit to control. What a different picture than what we usually imagine as a widow.

Here’s the passage:

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:1-6 ESV

Marriage was set up by God as a spiritual symbol of Christ and the Church. Widowhood is a spiritual symbol of the Church and the Holy Spirit. You are a living breathing example to the world of the work of grace. You are the image of being “dead” to the law and being “alive” to the Spirit. That changes my whole outlook! My widowhood is a beautiful picture.

Can you look at your widowhood as a beautiful picture of the Believer filled with the Spirit, not “married” to the law any longer?

Whether we are married or single, we are a spiritual symbol. We are a symbol of being married to Christ or a symbol of our first “marriage” to the law is dead and now “married” to Christ, living by grace and the Spirit.

I guess I never put the two thoughts together before – marriage and widowhood — both spiritual symbols of Christ and us.

Father God, Thank You for this beautiful picture of our widowhood. We are not bound by law any longer because of Your work on the cross and Your resurrection. Thank You for this image of our widowhood as a beautiful symbol. 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! Oh, and 1 hermit crab that continues to hold onto life some how. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that 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.”

Would you like to have a team member speak at your event? Contact us at admin@anewseason.net

Want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Click here.

Want to read about Christ as your husband now? Click here.  By Kathleen

Want to explore more on your vision and hope for your future? Click here. By Kit