El Roi-the God Who Sees

I love when I find a hidden treasure in Scripture.

I was pondering the story of Hagar in Genesis 16 while reading about a particular name of God. This is the only time in Scripture this name is used. And it is used with:

~ a woman

~ a single mom

~ an outcast from society

~ isolated due to circumstances she had no control over.

Sounds all too familiar, right?

The God Who Sees. El Roi. 

What did He see?

He saw Hagar, this Egyptian servant, living with Abraham and Sarah.

Do you ever feel invisible in society? Widows lose their social standing often, due to the loss of their spouse. I was thinking the other day that I miss being “in the know”. My husband, due to his career, knew a lot of the people in town and what was going on downtown.

I barely know what is going on in my own home! I am no longer part of the “Mr. and Mrs.” group at Christmas parties. Heck, I rarely even go OUT after dark, except to pick up one of my kids from somewhere.

But God sees me.

God found Hagar as she was alone with her child in the wilderness.

She had given up.

She had been sent away from the family group because of Sarah’s anger toward her for having Abraham’s baby.

I’m guessing she knew a lot about Abraham and Sarah’s true God because of living with them and being Sarah’s close servant. God saw her.

And, interestingly enough, Hagar was promised some of the very same things as Abraham: a son and lots of offspring. She KNEW who saw her. She was confident that God was looking after her.

Can I have that same confidence today?

God sees ME.

God is looking after ME.

Join me in praising God for this part of His character–El Roi, the One Who sees ME!

Genesis 16:13 ESV 

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her,

“You are a God of seeing, for she said,

“Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Want to read about another name of God? El Shaddai by Sheryl

One Last Gift To Open

I always looked forward to my husband surprising me on Christmas morning with One Last Gift. He would keep one tucked away until everyone had opened their gifts. One year it was lovely leather gloves, another year it was carefully chosen earrings, and once it was a coveted kitchen mixer! Do you have some Christmas memories from your past? Maybe from childhood or as a young married couple? I hope you can smile through the tears as you are reminded of special gifts during this time of the year.

This Christmas, let’s see what One Last Gift God has for us, tucked away, until all the other presents are opened. The trash is cleared away. The clothes are set aside. What would He have for me?

Psalm 119:50 ESV   This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.

I want to “unwrap” this “gift” with you today, Sister.gfit

ThisWhat is? God’s promises, which are fulfilled in Christ, our Savior, Immanuel (God with US!).

IsToday, not just yesterday or someday. In my current circumstances.

MyThis is personal, for ME and for YOU and for us to share with others.

ComfortSounds like a cozy fluffy robe and slippers! Now that’s a gift I can wrap up in!

AfflictionTroubles, hurts, misery, distress. This is everyone who is living and breathing on earth. This happened before our widowhood, and it will happen after widowhood. That’s why we can give this verse to anyone for encouragement.

Your PromiseOur comfort is based in His Words and not in our bank account or our relationships or in the waiting for that healing that seems elusive. What promise has He given us to bring comfort during our most difficult times?

  • Dig into Scripture and the Psalms.
  • Write the little nuggets of truth down in your journal so you can look back and be encouraged.
  • Matthew 11:28
  • Jeremiah 29:11
  • Isaiah 40:29-31
  • Romans 8:37-39
  • Romans 6:23
  • 1 Peter 5:7
  • Isaiah 41:10
  • Psalm 34:4

Give MeGod’s Word is not just for the preacher on the radio or TV or just for that skid row sinner. God’s Word is for ME; to convict me, to instruct me, to guide me, and to show me God’s character.

LifeReally? Live again after the biggest loss of my life? You might be the youngest widow on record and think your life is over. You might be the oldest widow on record and think you lived once but not now. Sister, life is today. You are given this day as a gift from your Maker. He gives us Scripture, like manna, for today. Our lives must still be lived because God is still giving us breath.

In a conversation with a friend recently, we were discussing ways we were able to be comforted by Scripture. During the first months of his loss, listening to Scripture on CDs at night helped him fall asleep. Falling asleep with the Psalms or another book of the Bible comforted his mind instead of rethinking medical decisions or focusing on the “what ifs”. What a practical way to allow God’s promises to comfort us in our affliction.

I love how God saves One Last Gift for us to open this day after our Christmas celebrations. You are loved. You are treasured. You are special. You are strong. You are His.

Lord God, thank You for Your promises to me from Your Scriptures. Give me perspective today on my circumstances. Help me turn to Your Word to comfort me and not relationships or food or other false comforts. Only You give true and lasting peace. Amen

 

 

Elizabeth Delizabeth 325x325yer is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries Inc.  She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, guinea pigs, and most recently, hermit crab keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and she loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.

 

Are you looking for more articles on digging into God’s Word? Drilling Him Into Your Hearts by Rene  OR  Searching for God’s Answers by Kit

Elizabeth has more articles on digging into God’s Word. You can read them here.

Would you like Elizabeth or one of our writers to speak at your next gathering? email us at admin@awnewseason.net 

 

 

Feed My Sheep

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

John 21:17 ESV

I sat in my parked car just outside the donation shop for a full thirty minutes, motionless except for the tears that slid down my cheeks.  My mind swirled with thoughts, and my heart quietly cried out to God.

Strength.

I asked for strength.

In the back seat of my car hung my husband’s remaining clothes.  They were some of the last items I still possessed that were his.  I had given many articles of clothing to friends and family and had intended to give away the remaining items several times, but the task seemed just too much to act on.  Hence, here I sat, praying for strength to walk in with these items.

Peace.

I asked for peace.

My heart hurt knowing that these items were but another part of letting go.  These are steps we eventually have to take – removing his name from accounts, making financial decisions alone, choosing to stay or not stay in our homes, deciding to work or not work.  The list seems endless. And as each step is accomplished, it seems as if another small piece of my heart is shredded. Praying now for peace as I move forward to complete yet another step.

Feed My sheep.

What? I’m not sure I heard you, Lord.

Feed My sheep.

I close off the distractions.  I lean my ear to hear Him.  I clear my mind to understand Him.  I open my heart to trust Him. These words “feed my sheep” were spoken specifically to Peter by Jesus, post-resurrection.  Biblical scholars align the thrice-asked question “Peter, do you love me?” with Peter’s three time denial of Christ before His crucifixion.

Three times Christ questioned Peter. The repetition here emphasizes Jesus asking Peter if he loved Him more than anything. Christ wanted Peter’s devotion to be total commitment.    

Christ follows with instruction for Peter to “feed my sheep”.   This commission to Peter restores him to his apostleship (after his denial of Christ).  Christ is trusting Peter with His most valuable treasure on earth, His flock.

But, how does it fit into this scene I am in the midst of now?  How does it apply to giving away my husband’s clothes?

Feed my sheep.

Just now, in this moment I hear Him ask, “Bonnie, are you firmly grounded so that you are not blown around by every wind of change, every trial, every fear, every grief?  Do you love me more than these?  I want you to feed my sheep.” 

Every time we sin (or in this case, doubt) as believers of Christ, we question our faith and begin to believe we may be unworthy of discipleship.  How do we respond when trials and adversities come our way? Our faith can certainly weaken and crack under great tests.

Oh, sisters, this is exactly what Satan wants.  But, as Jesus loved Peter, restoring him and inviting him back into fellowship, so too does He love us.

With our total devotion to Christ, we are to tend to His flock (the church) by our words and our actions.  He wants our love for Him to be greater than anything so that we know nothing is more important than our love for Him and obeying His call. This is discipleship – feeding and tending His sheep.  I can feed and tend to others by my actions and my words.  I can “feed” others by donating items someone may need. I can “feed” others by sharing my thoughts in a post that may touch a hurting heart.  I can “feed” others by being available to lend someone a helping hand.   I am grateful God reminds me that my work on this earth has yet to be finished.

Even though things in my life have drastically changed, God’s covenant with me has not.  I will stand firmly on this Rock as I move forward, tending to and feeding His flock.

With a renewed hope, purpose and passion, I open my car door, gather my items and enter the store.

Father, thank You for reminding me that nothing is more important than loving You.  No matter what trial, fear or grief  I face, I know You are with me to conquer.   I pray all my widowed sisters can embrace the love You have for us.   Help us to see ways we can “feed Your sheep” as we move forward in this journey.  Amen

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

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

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Related articles: Letting Go and Unbroken in Christ

Coop Chaos

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

-Proverbs 3:5-6 NASB

 A friend of mine has a flock of young chickens.  These biddies free-range during the day, but go back into the coop for their grain in the evening.  Late one afternoon, I helped open the coop and put out the grain.

Cackling as they came, the flock descended upon the coop.  Most ran straight for the coop door, bolted inside, and attacked the food trough.  A couple, however, could not find the entrance.  Poor babies, they beat themselves against the side of the coop, clucking madly, in their confusion.  Finally, we took pity on them, picked them up, and set them in front of the open door.  They immediately ran excitedly into the coop with the rest, enjoying their grain.

I thought, How silly these chickens are! 

And then I realized, disconcertedly, that at times I am as silly as the chickens!

Sometimes I squawk about my widow status…all the things I have to do without Keith here.  The broken car, the broken dishwasher, the broken dryer, the broken microwave…an endless list needs my time and attention.  I feel overwhelmed at times, beating my head against the never-ending problems, seeing no solutions…feeling like I have no way to get into the coop of safety, security and calmness.

And yet…there is a solution…a way into the door….right from the scripture.

Trust God – acknowledge Him – don’t lean on myself.

When I take a moment to get quiet with God, distraction-free, I feel His hand lifting me out of the situation and into His greater glory and to His better plan.  The peace I seek becomes less elusive.  I can feed on it, and my Savior’s love, just as the chicks who finally find the door.

Sisters, are you feeling this kind of stress today?  Are you seeking that peace that has become elusive?  Are you squawking instead of listening, just as I was?  Turn to the One who can lift you out of this confusion and onto His path for you, providing you with the sustaining “grain” of His peace!  It will be worth it.  I promise.

Father, forgive me for when I lose my perspective – on You, on my troubles, on my life.  It is not easy on planet Earth for anyone!  I sometimes lose my focus, forgetting to look for You working in my life.  Help me to see You clearly, and the path You have set before me.  Help me to put my hand in Yours as I continue this journey of widowhood.  Help me to feed on You and You alone for my strength and comfort.  In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

Fragile

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.  Psalm 16:1  ( ESV)

Becoming a widow left me feeling as vulnerable and fragile as an egg alone on the counter.

During the last year of my husband’s life, I had been so strong – working, caring for him, assuming all of the responsibilities – never giving a thought to giving up or giving in. There was lots to be done and, with God’s sustaining grace, I did it all.

Then my beloved went home with Jesus, and my world changed. My comfortable “carton” of the life we built together was gone. And there I was, all alone on that counter, being stalked by loneliness, despair, anger, bitterness, and fear of the future.  The world of widowhood was a hard, lonely place, and I needed a refuge – a safe “carton”.

During the darkness of those days I did two things – I started reading the Psalms and writing to God – sometimes for hours at a time. I filled page after page with my feelings and my pleas – much like David did when he wrote those beautiful verses.

It was during one of those sessions I wrote this prayer:

You are my God. Defend me Lord;

  •  As I go into this life alone
  •  As I struggle with the loneliness that batters me from all sides
  •  As I fight the anger that wells up within me
  •  As I resist bitterness and despair
  •  As I envision a future of empty, lonely days

And He did –  He still does. He has fashioned a new “carton” for me. I rest in it alone and I am still fragile, but I know I am safe as I hold fast to the promise of Psalm 16:8 “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.” (NLT) The nights are not as long, loneliness is eased with His presence. Anger, bitterness and despair no longer have a place in my life.

He is showing me the path for my life, and each day I awake determined to trust Him and hold fast to His promises.

Four years have passed since I wrote that prayer. They have not been easy years. There are still days that are difficult.  It has been a struggle to let go of the negative, but what an adventure, as I have learned to rely totally on my Loving Father to be that “carton” for me – my safe place of refuge.

Father, the grief that comes with the loss of our spouses has left us tattered, worn and fragile. We need You as our safe place. Reach down and scoop us up, Abba, and give us Your peace.

 

closeup linda

Linda has held many titles throughout life– daughter, sister, wife, mother and now widow. That title was received in May, 2011. She felt prepared for her beloved to pass, for it was not sudden. However, she was not at all prepared for life after he passed. They were married for twenty-four years, and he was her constant companion. Embarking into a life without him was strange and painful. However, she takes comfort in knowing he is in a place of infinite joy, free of pain and that wheelchair, to which he had been confined for seven months. In the months that followed, she discovered writing and journaling.

Want to read more about healing? New Paint by Bonnie

Want to read another article from Linda? One Widow’s Psalm

 

Turn Back and Strengthen

Luke 22:32 ESV

… And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Do you have a purpose? Do you wonder why you are left on this earth when your beloved was taken?

I watched a video recently on how to potentially add ten years to one’s life. I thought it would include things like cutting out sugar or running marathons—two things I would find very difficult to do! Surprisingly enough, the video included things like having a reason for getting up in the morning or having a purpose in life. I knew this in my heart but didn’t know how healthy it was.

When Jesus was talking to Peter in our passage above, He knew about the testing of Peter’s faith that was on the horizon.  He knew the rough patch Peter was going to experience. Do you believe that He knew about your rough patch? Do you believe He knew you would experience a crisis of your faith?

 I do believe that.

When Peter had walked through his “valley”, Jesus instructed him to invest in his brothers in Christ. Peter didn’t experience his trials just to sit and analyze. He didn’t get through the doubts and denials just to sit in a dimly lit home in solitude. Jesus knew Peter would come through the testing with his faith firmly planted in Christ, and then he was to share it with others.

I have a story to tell that I don’t like. I wanted a different story! Mine is ugly and, frankly, pretty painful. But I believe someone needs to hear my story, so they can be strengthened in their faith. I didn’t experience the loss of my spouse just so I could play the victim or wallow in self-pity forever. The point is that I need to strengthen others with my faith-story. My life did not end the day my beloved husband passed away. I may have wished it did, but God left me here to strengthen others.

I think the healing lies squarely in the fact that it happens unexpectedly when we invest in others—strengthen our brothers. So how would a hurting widow do this?

  • Pray for others: make a prayer list for those times you lie in bed awake. My grandmother used to tell me to pray through the alphabet – think of someone for each letter. Look up prayers in the New Testament that Paul prayed for believers and insert a name in the verses (like Philippians 1:9-11) Paul used his imprisonment to pray for others and write letters. We can use our “imprisonment” to pray for others too or send notes of encouragement.
  • Serve others: find a place in your community or church to give back (pregnancy crisis center, Red Cross, public library, hospital, schools, etc.).
  • Find a walking partner: get a little exercise with a new friend.
  • Social Media: lots of hurting widows comment on our facebook page. You can reply to their comments with your prayers, a verse that has helped you, or some encouraging words. Your comments can strengthen your hurting sisters all over the world.

In strengthening others, we aren’t ignoring our own pain.

We are intentionally exercising our “faith muscles”.

Healing occurs in this way.

Father God, You know how our faith has been tested through all the circumstances in our lives. Show us where we can use our stories of pain, heartache, and loss to strengthen our sisters in Christ. Amen

 

Elizabeth Dyer is a elizabeth 325x325writer/speaker with  A Widow’s Might/A New Season Ministries, Inc.. She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, guinea pigs, and most recently, hermit crabs keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend.  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and she loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.

 

 

Want to read more on finally healing? Transforming Power by Lori Reynolds Streller

Or on struggling with issues in your life? My God-Box by Elizabeth Dyer

Other articles by Elizabeth 

Triggers for Tears: Part 1 (Your Triggers)

When sadness is triggered by every day stress but transferred to you thinking about your loss, be careful. Following this path to tears over and over keeps you in a victim’s mentality and prevents you from dealing with the pain in the present.

A wise friend once told me to follow my trails of tears to figure out where they began. This was in the second year of my grief. Thank God I followed her suggestion. Years later, I recognize her advice as being one of the keys for overcoming grief.

Tears usually start from one of two triggers. Identify which category the trigger belongs in, and you can then deal appropriately with present day stress versus sadness over losing your husband.

Trigger 1:  A Reminder of the Husband You Lost:

Something happens, or you go somewhere or you see something, or the wind blows in a certain way that takes you back to a wonderful moment you shared with your spouse. Your child plays an instrument at a music recital, and the memory of your husband smiling next to you at past recitals has you longing for him and tears start up.

These are healthy patterns of grief.  When you cry over these times, pause, and relish in the good memories, even if they mean tears.  In time, you might find that the tears feel refreshing.  I would sometimes pull out the videos or photo books of Tom at these moments and laugh at the funny things he did, even as the tears spill.

Trigger 2: Stresses of the Day:

Something happens in the present that you’re not happy about.  It may or may not have to do with losing your husband.  Maybe your house is a mess, and it’s hard to get motivated to clean it.  Or maybe the couples in the neighborhood are all getting together for Valentines Day, and you’re not invited because you’re now single.  You start to wish you had the comfort of your husband again because your mind doesn’t want to focus on what’s bothering you in the moment.

It’s easy to drift back to a time when it seems through the rosy spectacles of memory everything felt good and happy.  But rosy or not, memories can’t fix the pain you’re feeling now. And once you start focusing on how you can’t have him back, you become more sad.  You cry. Then your tears validate your sadness. You start to tell yourself that’s okay, because after all, you’re a widow and you’re supposed to be sad.

Trouble is, if the trigger was actually something unrelated to your lost husband, you’ve been tricked. When sadness is triggered by every day stress but transferred to you thinking about your loss, be careful. Following this path to tears over and over keeps you in a victim’s mentality and prevents you from dealing with the pain in the present.

Pick up your mat and walk

If you notice your tears started because of normal daily stress, and you’ve allowed it to transfer to grief, you can stop and recognize it’s not a healthy grieving pattern and deal with what’s happening. How?  Ask Christ to heal you for just that day, just that moment.  Ask Him to put you on your feet so you can deal with this current problem and not tie it to grief. Ask for the miracle. It’s like the crippled man laying on a mat in John 5:8. Jesus directed him to pick up his mat and walk.  In that moment, the man was healed.  But the healing would never have been known until the man got up and walked.

Are you getting up?  When you know the tears are not about missing him, but about the stress of normal life activity, treat it as such.  Sometimes that means you get up, pick up your mat, and walk! Push through the lack of motivation and clean your house, no matter how much work it is. Or accept that it is lonely on Valentine’s Day without a spouse, so you should make alternative plans—go see a movie with another single lady.  Be constructive rather than sitting in the pity.  It’s okay to cry, but wait for the healthy grieving moments to really indulge in tears.  There will be plenty of opportunities!

Father God, give my dear sister confidence in her approach to life during this difficult season.  Help her to have grace with herself and simply cry when she feels led to cry and push forward boldly when You are speaking to her heart, asking her to get up, pick up her mat and begin to walk.  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 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, 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 battling satan?  Here are some articles you might try:

Oh Those Tears by Liz Anne Wright

Tears in a Bottle by Kathleen Beard

 

Catch the Foxes!

Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.

Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV)

I love my mother. She is nearly ninety years old and still loves to paint on canvas. She finds Bible verses to paint onto scenery.  She recently began talking about this little verse in the Song of Solomon. Honestly, as a widow, I avoid this book! I don’t want to read about lovers, I don’t want to watch romantic movies, I don’t want to hear about lovey-dovey couples.  But this little verse has application for all of us.

The foxes were the little destroyers coming into their new relationship. The vineyard was just beginning to take off in bloom and those pesky little foxes were tearing them up. The couple didn’t want anything to interrupt their new love.

We have an opportunity as widows to develop a relationship all over. This time with God. Afresh. Anew. Vibrant. Deep. Believers are the Bride of Christ and He is the Groom. We have the chance to dig into Scripture and get to know our Groom like never before. We have had such deep hurt in losing our spouses, but God can use our hurt to bring glory to Him in new and creative ways.

Except for the little foxes.

What are the little foxes that want to destroy your new, deeper relationship with Christ? I have “foxes” like anger or apathy. “Why would God let this awful thing happen to ME?” or “What good does it do to follow Christ when He takes away such a precious gift?” These little “foxes” can be joy stealers.  Think of the blossoming fruit as the Fruit of the Spirit or characteristics of a Believer in Christ. The “foxes” could be being too busy or apathetic, jealousy or pride. “What does SHE have that I don’t? Why would SHE get that honor?” “Why did her husband experience healing and mine didn’t? Could God actually love her MORE?” The foxes might be murmuring or complaining, impatience or ungratefulness. Those are just the “foxes” in my life! What about your life? What are your little “foxes”? Discouragement, selfishness, false doctrine, doubt, fear, gossip?

How do we fight these little “foxes” and keep them out of our growing relationship with Christ?

I researched the humane way to remove real foxes from a garden and this is what I found:

1)  Remove access to food: Get rid of the rotting food on the ground. In other words, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1 ESV Recognize the sin in your life and confess it to God.

2) Remove places of shelter: look for areas where the foxes could hide. Stay in Scripture so you recognize false teaching. Dig into Scripture so you can hear God speak to you personally through passages. John 15 explains about abiding in Christ. Matthew 5:6 shows us we can be filled when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. Little “foxes” can hide in our relationship with God when we don’t spend time in His Word, getting to know Him, not just about Him.

3)  Deter foxes from wanting to enter: put up a fence. You could do this by fellowshipping with other believers and bonding with Christian widows as encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Extend grace to those church members who don’t know what to say. Worship is NOT what you get out of it; worship is what we put INTO it.

Have you recognized a little “fox” wanting to get in and destroy the “fruit” in your life today? I certainly have. I have almost made some of the “foxes” PETS!

I need to run…I just saw another little “fox” trying to dig into the garden.

Father God, Husband, Lover of my soul, I love you and want a deeper relationship with You. You know me inside and out, You know my every thought, so help me today to guard my heart and put a stop to the enemies trying to steal my joy. Amen

 

 

Elizabeth Dyer is a elizabeth 325x325writer/speaker with  A Widow’s Might/A New Season Ministries, Inc.. She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, and guinea pigs keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend.  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and she loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.

Want to read more about Battling Satan? How to Hold Thoughts Captive by Kit

 It Can by Erika

 

The Window

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage;  wait on the Lord

Psalm 27:14 ESV

As the saying goes, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.”   But does He always?

My husband John’s death certainly was a closed door in my life.  I had been a wife for fourteen years, I was raising three kids and moving along quite comfortably.  Then the door slammed in my face.  I knew that I needed to spend time right where I was in order to heal.  And I was okay with that…for a time.

But then I started to get antsy.  I was ready to move forward.  I didn’t want to be associated with the word “widow” any more.  The grief room was beginning to feel stifling. I wanted God to open the window.  But He didn’t.

I thought I was “over it”.  I felt like I had worked through all my grief.  And I had made great progress, but no window to a new life was opening up.  I found myself frustrated with God. Couldn’t He see I was ready, I was good to go?  Why wasn’t He opening up the window?

For the longest time, I focused on my questions and my frustrations. I did all the talking and no listening.  Once I actually quieted my heart and allowed God to speak, I learned something.  I learned I wasn’t as healed and ready to move on as I thought.

There were still areas in my journey God needed me to work on.  I learned that there were hurts that hadn’t even surfaced yet. Things that needed to be dealt with before I could move to the next thing.  I was in such a hurry to move past the tragedy and be whole again that I was actually hurting my healing process.

If you are like me, it is hard to wait.  Maybe, like me, you just want to move past the hurt– you want to be healed and “happy” again.  But please learn from my mistake–  Don’t rush this process! Grief goes so much deeper than we realize.  Many times the grief over losing our spouses is just the tip of the iceberg.  There may be unresolved issues, hurts that were never expressed, questions that arise after the death.  Grief is complex, messy, and just can’t be rushed.

The good news is this….the “window” does eventually open.  As God revealed areas I needed to work on, I strengthened and grew in my faith.  I am so much better now than when I thought I was “over it” all.  As a result, “windows” are opening in areas that I never would have imagined. There are some God is keeping shut for now.  I can see them, occasionally I even get a glimpse of what’s on the other side. It’s still hard at times, but I am much better at the waiting now.  Waiting on God to do His thing in my life.  Waiting on His timing to tell me when I’m ready to move.

God will open the “window”, but only in His timing.  Until then, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and let yourt heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14 ESV)

Father, I pray for all of us who are waiting for the “window” to open.  I ask that You open our hearts to what You may be trying to tell us as we wait.   I pray for strength to keep still as we wait for Your perfect timing.  Encourage us and remind us You have not forgotten us.  Thank You, Lord, for Your faithfulness to us in our grief and healing.  Amen!

Shelters

I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,

and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things You do.

Psalm 73:28 NLT

Spring.

Most people think of flowers blooming and trees budding. While I think of those things, my mind goes straight to tornadoes. I have lived in “tornado alley” most of my life. I remember as a child throwing coats and seasonal items frantically from the closet under the stairs. I hid there with my dog, cat, cage of mice or gerbils, and my flute, while my father, like most true Okies, stood in the yard watching the clouds! I have seen the destruction of these storms, big and little. So this spring, my stomach has begun to churn more as I am now the sole protector of my little band of Dyers.

While I was married, my husband would often call from work, telling me whether storms were coming to our side of town or tell me a national news story that just popped up on his computer. I loved the feeling of security that came from this man loving us and taking care of us. However, with his death came the added responsibility of protecting my family like I have never felt before. Yes, I KNOW God ultimately takes responsibility for our protection, but my children still look to me in this home. If I panic, they will panic.  If I remain calm, they will, well, panic too! I have some children that resemble their mother in this way!

With all this going around in my head this spring, I was completely caught off guard when my phone rang the other day. To my surprise, on the other end of my phone was a storm shelter company. I was informed some friends of mine had collected money to combine with a large sum from the company, to present me with a shelter for my family.

I have such wonderful, caring friends!

The day before they were to come to install the shelter, I was reading my “One Year Bible” (which, as it turns out, will take me longer than one year) and came across this verse—my shelter is the Sovereign Lord.shelter

As much protection as my shelter provides my family, my ultimate shelter cannot be found just in the underground shelter. I still have to trust in the Sovereign Lord as my shelter.

One thing I have learned over the last four or five years is that storms come into our lives. Big storms. Storms that rock our foundation. Storms that strip away everything we held precious. And sometimes tornadoes wipe out entire neighborhoods.

When these storms come, those who found shelter survived. They survived with only their lives, stripped of everything material they held precious. I have seen the footage of people exiting their storm shelters, with the view scarring them forever. All they do is cry because they are so thankful for their lives. They come to realize our lives are most precious. When the storms of job loss, widowhood, and marriage failures hit us, we must find shelter in the Only Shelter who matters.

Our storm shelter is quite small for a reason. The obvious reason is because I have a lot of people to hide, but another is because the only thing that matters to me in a storm is my children’s lives. That’s it. There is no room for all those precious photo albums, my piano, my quilts, my cookbooks, my framed photos. While many of those things cannot be replaced, the only thing that matters to me now are my children.

I was so thankful I found this verse at just the time I needed it. I am also thankful for friends being the hands of God for my family. And I am thankful for these crazy, wonderful, loving, freckled children of mine.

Sovereign Lord, You are my shelter. Many storms have come into my life and I am thankful for the foundation of truth I have in You. Help me to always be ready to share Your wonderful deeds with all those around me. Amen

 

Elizabeth Dyer is aelizabeth 325x325 writer/speaker with  A Widow’s Might/A New Season Ministries, Inc.. She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, and guinea pigs keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend.  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.