Who Could Imagine?

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)

I was settled comfortably in a waiting room chair when I heard sniffling and looked up.

“Oh, this is embarrassing,” the receptionist said, dabbing her eyes. “I’ve been doing this for days, and I can’t stop.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, putting down the magazine.

“No, it’s okay. But it’s weird. I’m that woman that never cries. But I can’t shake the thoughts of what just happened to a friend.” She grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. “She was going along with her life, just like I do. Then, out of nowhere, her husband just died.”

I took it in. Just the mention of that scenario and a wave of bad memories flooded in as though they were yesterday. “Heart attack?”

She nodded. “He was fifty-one! I can’t imagine what she’s going through!”

I can, I thought and then took a deep breath. “Kids?”

“Three of the sweetest you can imagine. Her thirteen-year-old plays baseball with my thirteen-year-old.” She clenched her fists, fighting more tears, and shook her head. “Just like that—her life is changed forever.”

“Yes,” I said, my eyes meeting hers. “Completely changed forever.”

She thought for a moment. “I don’t know what to say to her. I’ve always been a tough woman. Stubborn. In my zone. I only focus on my world—my husband, my kids, my job. I’ve lost touch with so many people over the years as though no one really mattered.”

We both sat quietly for a moment while we thought about what she just said.

Then she added, “but she matters.”

And here is where I break from the story to speak to each of you sisters on this widow journey.  I’m amazed at God’s goodness to bring my meeting with the receptionist in the waiting room together.  It wasn’t an accident—her being struck with sadness about seeing the exact same tragedy I had once experienced and me hearing her gut-wrenching story that was exactly like my loss.

Isn’t God’s purpose so clear in these moments?  Paul talks about this when he writes to the Corinthians.  He tells them that when God comforts us in our struggles, we are then able to turn around and comfort others. My conversation with this receptionist happened almost ten years since losing Tom—long enough for me to have so much of God’s healing and joy restored in my life, and long enough for me to be prepared to send that healing and restoration through this woman to help the new widow in her life.

All these thoughts ran through my head as I listened to her describe the impact of her friend’s loss on her heart.

“I’m just a baseball mom acquaintance,” she said. “She never really mattered to me before, but now she matters, and I’m thinking about people I’ve neglected and ignored over the years. I’m not close to anyone but my family.”

I nodded. “People matter. The older we get, the more important it is to recognize it before it’s too late.”

“I don’t know what to do for her. I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”

Silence for a moment. Should I tell her I’m a widow? Yes, I should. God brought this moment for a reason.

“I can imagine what she’s going through,” I finally said. “I lived it. I was her.”

She looked puzzled.

“I was her age with four little boys when my husband died with no warning whatsoever. I was exactly where she is right now.”

She stared in my eyes, seeming to try to connect her friend’s situation to me. “I would have never guessed. You seem happy.”

“I am. It hasn’t been easy, but my life is good.”

“I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”

“Parts of being a widow stinks, but she will need a friend who can show her she’s more than a widow. She’s going to need a good friend.”

And as she began to ask how to be a good friend, I found myself making a new friend.

That was something I couldn’t imagine. Who could imagine His infinite wisdom and power—how the Almighty Counselor knew that only someone who had walked in my shoes could counsel this woman.

Lord thank you for bringing me comfort so that I can be used to comfort others.

 


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.

If you are looking for more to read about comforting others, consider these posts from our team:

Inviting Others into Your Healing Journey

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

The Other Side of Sob

 

 

Living Water

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

                                                                     John 7:38 ESV

 

No one ever said it would be this hard or last this long.

A vivid memory from my younger days sometimes floods my mind. I remember a story on the national news of a woman running a marathon brilliantly but in the final stretch, her body started to give out. There on television for the entire world to see, her bowels released.  Horrified, I thought about her humiliation and her struggle. Incredibly, she managed to finish.

There are days this grief journey feels just as hard as her race.

Twenty plus years later and I am still inspired by her perseverance. It was a ninety-second news story that taught me a profound lesson about never giving up. I wonder how many others were impacted by her story. I have no idea who technically won the race that day, but sometimes winning isn’t about crossing the finish line first– it’s about enduring what seems like insurmountable obstacles.

Many, many times on this journey, I feel like I have nothing more to give. I become convinced I can’t take one more step. When I look at the years I could have left on this earth, living alone, I want to give up. I want the pain to stop. I want the emptiness and loneliness to end.

But each step is possible because I believe Jesus is who He says He is. And because I believe in Him, I will never have to do this alone. The Holy Spirit is living in me. As a vessel for the Holy Spirit there is no doubt that my life has purpose and meaning. His word tells me in John 7:38 that from my heart will flow rivers of living water.

Not stale, stagnate, murky water but living water. This reminds me that no matter how hard or how long this journey feels, no matter how much I feel like giving up or feel like my body is going to give out, something precious is still flowing through me to others.

Through all the tears, exhaustion, and heartache, it is hard to imagine we can possibly be of value to anyone else. What can we possibly give to others when we face so many challenges just in trying to accomplish our daily activities?

The living water is flowing from our hearts. We have God’s love and mercy to share with others. Our journey strengthens our faith. We become better at keeping our focus on God, living with a peace that transcends all understanding, and caring for others more deeply. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the more we seek Him, the more we are transformed into His likeness.

Day by day our faith becomes more evident to those around us. They are watching because they know this is the most difficult trial anyone can ever face. God uses our circumstances to strengthen our faith and theirs. I’ll never forget how at our first conference our praise team comprised of musicians, worship leaders and pastors, expressed how impactful it was to them to worship with widows. To know what we had lost and to see how faithfully we responded in worshipping our Lord was incredibly inspiring to them. Like the runner who inspired me so long ago with her perseverance, now we are the ones inspiring others.

Dear sisters, please be encouraged today that regardless of how you feel or what you accomplish today, the living water will continue to flow from your heart!  You are persevering and God is using 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!

 

Golly Gee!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

Golly gee, can people just remember to say one standard line to a widow like, “This is hard. I’m here if you need me.”

And can we widows try to remember how hard it is to say the right thing? Maybe even coach people on what to say to a grieving widow.

With ten years since my loss, I look back with a lighter heart at the ways people fumbled, bumbled and stumbled over just what to say to a widow.

Here is my “Golly Gee, they didn’t just say that!” list of the botched approaches:

Good grief approach –
“You poor thing. Bless your heart! Let me take care of you!”

I’m not a poor thing. Give me some credit for not going over the cliff right now.

OMG approach –
“Oh my gosh! That’s so awful! I couldn’t handle that! You must be so strong!”

I gulped and thought, Guess what, sister, we don’t get a choice on what we have to handle, so excuse me for not accepting that compliment. How about God chooses you to be strong instead of me?

Lucky dog approach –
“Wow you’re so lucky. I’d far rather have the insurance payout than my husband sticking around.”

No kidding, this happened! I found myself quietly shunning the woman. I now regret that. She could have used a friend to help her see the good in her married life. She finally left her husband and has regretted her lonely walk ever since.

Lazy husband approach –
“I know exactly how you feel. My husband doesn’t lift a finger at home.”

I reacted, “at least you get to wake up next to the lazy jerk every morning!” Needless to say, the blunt retort didn’t do much to encourage this woman.

You’re young approach –
“don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll find somebody.”

I said nothing and fumed over the comment until I realized she only wanted to encourage and meant absolutely nothing ill by it, just needed a little coaching on what to say.

Get on with it approach –
“Get to work. Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

I felt guilty for spinning my wheels in that first year and recalled the conversation every time we bumped into each other. What a mistake! She didn’t even remember it because what she really meant was she felt compassion for me.

Evading approach –
“ “

The person simply stays away. My reaction ranged from not registering their disappearance to being deeply hurt. I now know I wasted too much emotion here. Many AWOL friends either didn’t want to crowd me or had their own emotional issues about death.

Endlessly dedicated approach—
“There’s got to be something I can do. Anything. Just give me a task, now. You don’t have anything? Well, let me follow you around until I figure out a task.”

My reaction to this type of friend was to begin accommodating her need to help. It was sweet at first but soon became a burden for me as I ran out of things to give her and found her “help” to be an albatross around my neck.

Reacting offensively to an offense does nothing to repair the damage. And if you can learn to see the person through the eyes of Christ, you can have grace and respond to them gently as in Proverbs 15:1.

I now try to understand the heart behind the person’s comment and thank people for trying to help. If I’m ever in that place again, I’ll just let people know that it’s okay to just sit quietly with me or say a simple “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Because the truth is, we all can use grace with one another.

Golly gee, Lord,
I’ve learned something here—I will never judge another for trying to say the right thing because God knows I’ve missed the mark many times! I only pray that my lesson can be learned from someone going through these very conversations today. 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:

Perhaps

Yes! I  Still Cry

Dating a Widow

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.

 

Always of Good Courage – Day 1,826


Always of good courage

1,826 days since my husband took his final breath.

 

Please indulge me as I take time to ponder. How would he see us on this five year anniversary?

There are certain things I know without a doubt. You may recognize some of them in your own circumstance.

He would be:

SURPRISED how much has changed in the world since he was alive, even small things like changes to our city roadways.

I had one of those irrational moments that makes sense only to those who experience grief. One day as I viewed massive changes to the interstate close to our home I began to panic. I worried he wouldn’t recognize how to get home. I then remembered he would never need that information again.

 

PROUD of the accomplishments of our children.

His coworkers mentioned repeatedly during visitation how often he talked about his family. They spoke of how he hurried to get back home to us when he traveled. One sorrow that never fades is that he cannot be physically present for milestones with our children now. However, they can be assured he would be bursting with pride and giving big hugs if he could be there.

 

THRILLED to know his grandson and future grandchildren!

He looked forward to spoiling grands. Though none of them will ever meet him here on earth they will still know who he was and what he loved. Papa G is present in photos and videos. He is mentioned often with love and laughter — he will not be forgotten.

 

PLEASED that I have been always of good courage from the day of his death to the present, have walked by faith, drawn strength from God’s word, and encouraged other widows to do the same.

He loved to serve. He supported anything I pursued, and it made him happy when we helped others. During our last prayer together, he asked God,  “Please shine Your light through my family and through me”. God has done that abundantly and the prayer continues to be answered.

 

HAPPY to know God provided a wonderful man to be my new husband.

Before his first military deployment we argued. He had the nerve to suggest that he would want me to marry again if he died. I adamantly stated it was NOT going to happen! He gently took my face, looked me in the eyes, and said, “You have too much love to give to be alone for the rest of your life. I would want you to remarry.”

I don’t think either of us believed it would become a reality; even twenty years later I did not. I had no intention of obeying his wishes when I found myself alone. But God’s timing is perfect and after almost three years as a widow, He opened my heart to the possibility of new love, then brought an incredible man into my life in a way that was clearly from Him. My first husband got his wish.

 

CONTENT to be exactly where he is right now.

 

Without a doubt,

nothing would entice him to return to this life.

 

He has been in the presence of the Lord every day for the past 1,826 days.

Why would he want to be anywhere else?

 

The Apostle Paul says,

“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (ESV)

 

Lord, while we remain here please help us to walk by faith and not by sight. We want to be always of good courage as we rely on Your direction in our daily lives, through Your word and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Please make us to continue to shine as a reflection of Your love. 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:   Piece By Piece  or Walk This

The Other Side of the Sob

Today we welcome our sister and former team writer Ami Wickiser to our blog. At the end of Ami’s post is a link for more information if you would like to guest blog for us.


​I watched her greet person after person, carried along by evident grace. She wanted it to be a celebration instead of a funeral. And indeed, the atmosphere buzzed with the hum of conversation while folks enjoyed dinner and dessert. Pictures of a life well-lived filled the space.

From across the room her eye caught mine. And in the span of a heart beat, she was in my arms collapsing under the weight of her sobs. Without words, we stood that way for a long time. I held her tightly and cried with her.

“I know I can let it all out with you.”

Yes, dear one. It’s ok to weep and grieve even amid a celebration of life.

Three years earlier, the same lady was at the hospital when my life shattered, and I collapsed into her arms. We had been alone in the emergency room, Jon and I. But he went into cardiac arrest, and I needed someone to come. Looking down at my phone, there was her contact information. Mechanically, I touched the screen, not completely aware of who I was calling.

She was there when I finally gave a doctor permission to stop trying to save my husband’s life.It was in her arms that I silently prayed, “Yes Lord, He’s yours. I give him back to you.”

Two lives intertwined through the deepest of moments.

But now I was on the other side of the sob.

I can’t say I was fully prepared to dive down deep with her, or that her weeping didn’t recreate a dozen vivid images in my mind.And I can’t say I expected she would let her composure crack and the waves overtake her. But I’m glad she did. For there was grace for her to greet person after person.

And there was grace to weep.

I’m thankful she felt totally safe. And I’m thankful I could share the weeping with her.

On the other side of the sob I realize a few things:

  • I know suffering, that I may be able to suffer with others.
  • I know redemption in the midst and on the other side of the storm.
  • I have been deeply comforted.
  • Praise God for beauty out of ashes.
  • His plans and purposes are immensely beautiful.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so the we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 ESV

 

Comfort. It is the result of resting in God’s sovereignty and loving rule over my life.

Peace. I’m not free from troubles, but I possess a profound sense of well being because God is in control. The one who collapsed, could uphold another. I could look her in the eye and say:

It’s ok to weep. It’s ok to ask questions.

Cling to Christ. He carries.

“You won’t believe me now, but one day it will be better. It may be a long time, but one day you’ll want to live again.”

Jesus turns suffering into unspeakable joy.


If you are interested in guest blogging for us, please click the link here and get all the information.

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 Lady At The Store

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards’ of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

“Our dad is in heaven, his gun shot himself.”

One of our tougher moments in the early days of this grief journey was in line at a store.  My twin boys were just four years old.  They knew their daddy was in heaven, and they knew the simplest version of what happened.

When the sweet lady in front of us complimented their behavior I barely saw it coming. She told them they should be proud and go home and tell their daddy how well they had behaved.  That poor lady!  She never saw it coming either, but when it did, her face went from pale white to red flushed, as she watched me nod to confirm their words.  She choked back tears as she apologized for saying anything to them and then moved on rather quickly.

Early on that was the usual reaction.  No one really knew what to say.  There were many awkward moments when someone heard my husband was in heaven and then pressed to know how he died.  There was the cashier at the grocery store, who pressed me on my pretty necklace (Scott’s wedding ring I had made into a necklace).  And then couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. The waitress at the restaurant.  The dry cleaner cashier.

Once the word suicide is dropped, the tough awkward moments fly and many well meaning people want to flee!

The stigma of and circumstances surrounding suicide are hard enough for those intimately involved, for a stranger they are nearly impossible.

Yet, there were many who stood by us and were there for us from the very beginning.  Our families hunkered together the day Scott got heaven, as my church family formed a barrier outside of my house to keep strangers and the media out (Scott’s death was very public and made national news). The local businesses that showed up with tray after tray of food. (Our families have lived in the same small town for generations.) The many, some strangers even, who came to show their love towards us, and with compassionate hearts poured out their gifts of wisdom and comfort.

It’s funny how I realize now that before all this I would’ve been the judgmental fleeing kind.  I was “the lady at the store”.  I had my own critical thoughts and opinions on death, especially on suicide, and even grief.

I knew nothing!

Now, I want to say to the lady at that store and the cashier at the grocery store and the many others, “Don’t be afraid to go there.”  Compassion, sympathy and empathy can be so powerful to a hurting person.

And I want to say to the many others, “Thank you!”  Thank you for walking this unashamedly with us.  Thank you for your kindness, care and concern. Thank you for extending grace and showing us Scott’s life was much more than that one moment.

I want to say to each of you,  be ready and willing to go there with others.  You’ve got deep places now.  You get this!  Be ready to stand with the next grieving person.  It’s going to come.  We know that well.  It’s a gift to love others from your pain to theirs.

This grief walk is not wasted. Prepare yourself well, so you aren’t the lady in line with me. Take every opportunity to shine Christ and bless others with the gifts God has now given you.

Father God, thank you for giving me the gifts I have received through this journey.  Help me to see hurt and pain in others and shine You to them as I take the time to care.  Help me to never brush off a hurting person, or waste the lessons You’ve given me.  Prepare to minister to others from the deeper places You have given me.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


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

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

Other articles by this author click here. 

Articles with a similar theme: Fill My Days with Living! and THE STEWARDSHIP OF SUFFERING

 

Sunday’s Recap

Sisters, we hope you were blessed by the “Our Favorites” series we ran throughout the summer.  If you missed any of those posts you can find them here: Teri’s Favorite, Erika’s Favorite, Elizabeth’s Favorite, Lori’s Favorite, Sherry’s Favorite, Bonnie’s Favorite, Kit’s Favorite, & Sheryl’s Favorite


As we step into Fall, we are shifting gears a bit on Sundays.  We realize many of you lead busy lives or may not spend much time on social media. Sunday is the Lord’s day and we feel convicted that we need to honor the day of rest in our ministry as well.  So, on Sundays we are now going to be sharing with you a weekly recap of everything that went on that week in our ministry.

We pray this blesses and encourages you, and helps better enable you to “keep up” with the encouragement we’ve offered you throughout the week.

So, please join us today for our new series here: “Sunday’s Recap”.