What I Want or What Is Best?

Valentine’s Day.

Along with our anniversary, this is one of those days on the calendar that we widows dread. Can we just skip this day? Pretend it doesn’t exist?

One Valentine memory I have is when my husband, who rarely brought me flowers, had flowers delivered by some internet big-name company. They came nearly dead!  He had his secretary call and complain, so they sent another batch right away. It almost seemed like the company was verifying his true feelings about how impractical flowers can be!

During this time of year, I find myself running off in my mind to a place where I was happily married and feeling the love of my husband so deeply. My mind wanders off to places that didn’t even exist! I begin to imagine myself on the cover of a romance novel, wrapped in the arms of some half-dressed sweaty hunk! But I’m probably the only one who imagines this…

And with all the talk of “love” this time of year, I also find myself wishing for another chance at marriage. Let’s face it, I have a lot of years left on this earth hopefully.

I was listening to a sermon recently as my eyes moved across the page to a passage from 1 Samuel. The Israelites wanted a king. Badly. They begged God for a king so they could be like the other nations.

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20 ESV

Then it hit me – I sound just like them! Give me a husband, God, so I can fit in with the married folks again.  I want to feel loved again. My kids should experience a father in the house. He can fix all the repairs that keep coming up. Give me a husband…

I sound like a three-year-old, throwing a tantrum. I want a husband, God! I want him now!

Why did God say to the Israelites that they shouldn’t keep asking for a king?

  • They were rejecting God as their leader
  • Their children would serve the new king
  • Their money would not be their own – taxes!
  • They would serve the king

So Samuel shared with the people what God warned them would happen if they got a king like the other nations. The people shouted louder – We want a king! God then told Samuel to give them what they wanted. Even though it wasn’t the best for them.

Sisters, I never want God to say that to me. I want what is best. It might be marriage or it might be to remain single. I want to let God be God, saying, “Your will be done”, and be full of joy on the path He leads me on.

This Valentine’s Day, try to block out the fake images of love, and focus on the undying love God has for us. Let’s not forget His promises in our quest to be like others. I find encouragement in what God said to the Israelites in Isaiah 54:4-5 (living Bible)

…the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more, 

for your Creator will be your husband.

And another encouragement from Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Friend, you ARE loved. You ARE cherished. You ARE beautiful. You ARE special.

This is a wonderful song that will remind you of the love of God today. And another to remind us God’s love will never let us go. 

 

Father God, keep me focused on the path I am on and not always wishing for another route. Remind of the joy and pleasure of being in Your presence. Amen


 

 

Elizabeth DyerElizabeth Dyer, Elizabeth Kay Dyer, A Widow's Might, aNew Season 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. 

We have more articles on Valentine’s Day. You can read them here. Happy Valentine’s Day by Nancy Ultimate Valentine by Erika  It’s All Good by Sherry

 

Finding Your Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

1Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

`A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

`Bah!’ said Scrooge, `Humbug!’

                                                               -Charles Dickens

I could have written that about myself early into my widow’s journey:

‘Merry Christmas, Kit! He is the Reason for the Season!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Kit’s best friend’s little girl Natalie, who came upon her so quickly Kit hadn’t even realized she had come into the room.

I didn’t say ‘bah humbug,’ but I wanted to. I was well into year two—one of the toughest of my journey. The reality that Tom was truly gone had set in.

Natalie’s precious little hands opened to reveal a red and green painted stone. ‘It’s for you,’ she said.

I took the stone in my hand, feeling like no response to this little girl’s love would be adequate—feeling like such a Scrooge.

That Christmas I wanted to hide under the blankets until the “Reason for the Season” stopped banging reminders that everyone seemed to have a “Reason” but I.

Face it—I was in my pity party. I wanted to be Ebenezer himself.

…truth is, an Ebenezer is exactly what helped me through that lonely Christmas season.

We think of a scowly old sinner when we hear ‘Ebenezer’. But that’s not what the name means at all.

The name was given by the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament to a stone which marked a moment when God showed up. Back in those days, people had turned away from God for so long, it was a wonder God would want to have anything to do with them.

But of course He did.

He sent Samuel who led the people in prayer and repentance.

But while they prayed, their most dreaded enemy, the Philistines, surprised them in battle. God stepped in by confusing the Philistines with claps of thunder, leaving the Israelites not only protected, but regaining four cities back under their control. It was a long time before the Philistines bothered them again.

Samuel erected a stone and called it an “Ebenezer” (1Samuel 7:12). “Eben” in Hebrew means stone, and “Azer” is Hebrew for helping.  The Ebenezer, “helping stone” was placed to mark the spot of victory as a helpful reminder that God will defeat the enemy.

Author Charles Dickens had turned to Christ late in life and intended for A Christmas Carol to be his “Ebenezer” to those needing to find salvation.

I already found my eternal salvation, but for that holiday season, I needed my Ebenezer, my helping stone to remind me God would defeat my loneliness. Natalie had placed it right in my hand.

I kept her little Ebenezer stone on my mantle. Each time a panic attack arose, I held it, remembering the pure love shown to me by little Natalie, like the pure love God feels for us.

Are you struggling this Christmas season?  Are you wishing you could skip the holidays altogether?

I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. All of us writers have been there. Write to us. Let us be your Ebenezer, sister.  Place this website on your mantle (so to say) and reach for us when you need us.

Lord, would you give each sister reading this post a sense, if not just for a moment, that she is being carried?  Show her that Christ is the rock and the foundation for our faith and healing. Help her know she is not alone.  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.

 

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: 

December…Bah! Humbug….

Christmas is Over: Is a Grinch Still Lurking?

The Ornament Without a Hook

BLT and a Cup of Soup

              And after you have suffered a little while, the God all grace who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 

1 Peter 5:10  ESV

Anniversary announcements. Date night photos. Social media “love my spouse” challenges.

Sigh.

Sometimes it is hard escaping the “I am no longer married” syndrome.

While I am happy for friends celebrating their spouses and wish them the absolute best, I have to admit I can’t always shake the sadness of this single status I am now part of. It creates a deep yearning for what I no longer have.  I am ambushed when I see couples holding hands or a husband slip his arm around the waist of his wife. I hunger for those touches. I miss the ease of conversation we shared.

Now, daily challenges of running a household, raising children, and always being the responsible adult can certainly be a mood crusher.

This past Sunday, I was sitting at home when one of these “ambush moments” hit me.

You know those moments, when there may be no specific reason why, but something triggers the emptiness, the void, the missing? 

This particular moment opened the floodgates of  just how much I miss being a wife. Sunday evenings were always special in my marriage. After church and relaxing, I would always prepare a light dinner. One of my husband’s favorite Sunday night meals was a BLT sandwich and a cup of soup. On this specific evening, I was craving one of those BLT’s. And as I prepared it, that’s when the ambush hit. The cloud of hollowness set in.

I retreated to my back patio where, yes, tears came streaming down my face. Questions flooded my thoughts: WHEN will this ache of missing my husband go away? WHY do I still struggle with being alone? WHAT can I do to avoid these attacks? WHERE can I go to escape these feelings? HOW MUCH longer will I struggle?

And then, the answer came in form of a WHO.  Who will help me release these struggles?

Number one is God. Without Him, we are simply not able to conquer the invasions of the loneliness and trials we now face as a single woman.

The second answer to the WHO is ourselves. It is absolutely crucial  to make the decision to be a contributor of our own accord to move through these ambushes.  Sisters, these attacks will happen. Even at five years out, as I have shared, they arrive unwelcome and unannounced. We must put on our boxing gloves to fight them off. These moments of pain will arrive, but we have choices to make.

1: We can choose to look around us with hope for a life with possibilities or a life of limitations. How we look at things is what drives us.

2: We must let go of the sadness of our loss. Not forget it. However, we cannot let our loss create  bitterness in our heart.

3: Get moving. Make the decision to try something new. It can be something as simple as an art class or something as big as sky-diving. The important thing is to keep looking for ways to occupy your thoughts. Fill your life with new joys, before the Deceiver comes to fill your heart with heaviness.

4: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is good to lean on family and friends. Oftentimes, they want to help but are just timid about asking. Use them to ease the burdens and support you on days when you are really low.

5: Continue to seek God. There will be some days when words, music, friends, family, or activities just do not cut it! That is the day when you just move forward in trusting. We are covered by His grace, His love and His mercy. On the days when it is just too hard, fall into His arms and let Him carry you.

My recent ambush prompted me to go buy a bike. I haven’t been on a bike in over fifteen years! But, now, my evenings are spent enjoying a ride through the neighborhood. It is a punch at fighting the lonely moments and exercise is an added bonus! I am praying you can find the punch needed to conquer your attacks.

Father, please draw near when the aches of this solo life creep upon us. We miss the comfort we shared with our beloved husbands. Help us to keep our minds focused on You.  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

Read more about fighting episodes of despair from Linda and Sheryl

All Eyes are NOT on You

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)

“Please pray for me to be joyous. I want to be a light to people around me.”

Those were the words of a precious friend who had recently lost her husband and felt the weight of everyone’s eyes upon her.  She was trying to be strong for everyone else, but as we all know, it’s not always easy to be joyous or bold. We can’t simply step over our grief and get to the joy without first acknowledging our struggle.

The “good Christian woman” who handles her grief with no vulnerability seems too high up on a pedestal—an example too perfect to be of any use by others. The times people have seen me spill tears over Tom makes their witness of my pinnacles of joy and bold steps forward more real as God’s light in their lives.

Most widows struggle with these two polar images–the tearful widow and the fearless widow. Do you find yourself wondering how people around you picture you? Let’s explore these two stereotypes of the widow and then decide why neither fit.

The Tearful Widow

When the loss was fresh, the way people fussed over me both warmed me and made me feel awkward. I didn’t want them to stop because I didn’t want to be alone. At the same time, I felt pitying eyes constantly watching me through my ups and downs. Sometimes when I cried in public, I’d worry over what others thought of my tears, embarrassed to be the object of everyone’s sympathy.

The Fearless Widow

On the flip side, it’s also okay to have a surge of boldness and decisiveness as long as your decisions are grounded in God’s wisdom.

I didn’t hesitate to take bold steps to help my kids and me in managing our grief and our family matters. My actions were based on prayer and direction from the Lord, but stepping out in faith had me worried people would think I wasn’t sad enough–like making bold decisions about my future would lack reverence for my lost husband.

You’re not the Center of Attention:  What a Relief!!!

I started to put pressure on myself—to fret over what others thought of my grieving.

Women so naturally worry about relationships around them. Sometimes, it’s a relief to remember that people aren’t always focused on exactly what we are doing or what our reactions and behaviors are. In a way, it’s pretty self-centered to think people are! Everyone is so busy with their lives—just reassuring them how grieving naturally involves a mix of tears and triumphs is the best way to handle what feels like the glare of people noticing us in our grief.

Audience of One

I was only able to be a light when I stopped my worry over what they thought of me. I purposefully stilled the thoughts, as the Psalmist wrote God asks us to do. “Be still and know that I am God.” I had to stop looking around me for approval and accept only the watchful eyes of the Father.

My friend has since decided to do what I had done—learn to relax about what others think and rest in Him as the Psalmist suggests. People expect neither unnatural joy nor gnashing of teeth during our grief. Often we presume people are watching when really, we have the freedom to take time to just experience our sadness. Just acknowledging our pain helps us heal and move on.

Dear Lord, give us a stillness in our hearts that protects us from feeling observed and exposed. Help us to see the attention given us in the eyes You give us through our new creation and not through our flesh of self-absorbed anxieties. People care and love us. Isn’t it wonderful, Lord? Help us to accept that love and read nothing more into it. Give us the freedom to grieve the way You ask us to and not feel pressured to express ourselves the way we think others expect our grief to be expressed.  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 being vulnerable?  Here are some articles you might try:

One Million Tears by Liz Anne Wright

Triggers: Your Sister Feels them Too by Kit Hinkle

Fake it Till You Make it? No!

aNew Season:  Your Heart

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

Ephesians 6:16 (ESV)

“Fake it till you make it.”

This saying makes me cringe. It brings to mind beauty pageant contestants bearing plastic grins while high heels dig into blistered skin.

I like to be real with my feelings, and seriously, if something is hurting me, whether it’s the straps on unreasonably high heels or the pain of disappointment when a friend lets me down, I like to locate the source of the trouble and solve it.

It’s the word “Fake” that troubles me.  I would never encourage anyone to fake anything!

But what if the source of the pain is based on a lie? What if the anxiety you’re buried under–the belief  you’ve bought into, is in itself, a fake?  A counterfeit. Something being pitched at you by satan himself?  And what if you’re buying into it, hook, line, and, literally, sinker?

Paul tells the church at Ephesus to put on the armor of God to defend against the attacks of satan.  (Ephesians 6:16).  Christians in Ephesus had reason to feel attacked.  Before Christianity, Ephesus was known for the making and trading of silver idols. As more Ephesians put aside these silver idols for the one and only true God, silversmiths were losing business.

Paul wrote to these believers in Ephesus from his prison in Rome to encourage them to put on their shield of faith against satan’s flaming arrows.

Do these attacks come in the form of a direct whisper to your heart? Some think, as Paul suggests here, that satan operates through our situations to discourage us.

And we’re not talking about an uncomfortable pair of shoes.  We’re talking about huge pain in life–loss, insecurity, loneliness, betrayal.  When these arrows hit us, satan is waiting and hoping for us to believe lies.

  • I can’t do life without a husband.
  • I’ll never find companionship again.
  • I’ll never find joy in this life without him.

You know they are lies, but when you’re there in the valley, they feel real. I hope you don’t try  to “fake it till you make it”. You don’t have to because you know Truth.

  • You are cherished beyond the depths of love that your husband ever felt for you.
  • You are worthy – so worthy you are worth the most ultimate sacrifice.
  • Your worthiness has nothing to do with how pretty you are, how wealthy you are, how clean your house is, how well your kids are doing, or how quickly you’re able to rebound from the disaster that just struck down the life you had.

The Creator of the whole universe is all-perfect and all-knowing. He fashioned you exactly as He planned. He placed you here, knowing you would suffer. His Son suffered too. And He loves  you–faults and sins and all. In fact he lifts you high, washes you off with His love, with the sacrificial payment He paid by dying in your place.

He holds you high, and He holds you close. He makes you whole.

So you don’t “fake it till you make it”.  You be real.  You look at the Truth.  YOU. ARE. WORTHY. Not because you have done things to be worthy or you look worthy or your life looks worthy, but because He made you, and He washed you clean and placed you right where you are, to smile and shine and radiate Who He is!

And you may not feel like it. You’re lonely. Overwhelmed. In pain. But you know who you are.  You know the Truth.

So try this.

Don’t fake it till you make it. Act as if you feel what you already know to be true.

If you felt worthy.  If you felt cherished and loved and accepted and not alone.  If you had that adoring set of eyes following you from room to room saying, “Yeah, baby–she’s awesome!” or “I’m so glad to be spending every evening with you!” Wouldn’t you have a better skip in your step?

But you do.  You have God’s adoring love, and He is the Almighty. Few women are forced to deal with walking alone and leaning on the Lord to be her husband. But you are, so respond to that call.

Even if you don’t feel it, act as if you feel it. And it’s not faking, because it’s true–you have His adoring love. Get that kick back in your step. Act as if, and the truth will begin to take hold in your heart.

Lord Father, all of us go through our losses differently.  Many LOVE being motivated by ideas of how to move forward.  Others need time to just grieve and be loved on. Please help each sister find that point in her journey when she can know it’s time to step out in faith, using the shield of that faith to stop satan’s arrows of defeat. 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 dealing with anxiety? Try reading “A Bout with Doubt”. It’s a five part series, and if you struggle with trying to get yourself out of a pattern of discouraging thoughts day after day, please try reading it.  The five parts have an introduction, and four steps to fighting your self-doubt: recognizing habitual tears, observing the habit, replacing the habit with truth, and giving yourself freedom to grieve honestly. Reading through them might bring you something to help you bring yourself into brighter days.

 

What’s On the High Shelf? Part 2: The Mystery

aNew Season (Rebuilding after Loss): Dreams and Goals

Last week I began with Pastor Greg Laurie’s story about asking his little son to choose any toy from a toy store only to be surprised when the boy selected the smallest figurine on a bottom shelf. Pastor Greg really had in mind the most whiz bang toy for his son. It was sitting on the highest shelf.  Feel free to turn back to that post here to get the full devotion.

Meanwhile, today we talk about what God has in mind for us on His high shelf, and what He meant in Jeremiah about His plans or thoughts for us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

A dear friend hangs this verse on a plaque in her kitchen. It’s a verse so many of us pen on the insides of cards and letters to encourage one another.

But have you ever noticed how differently it reads in the New International Version? The NIV uses the word ‘prosper’, while the ESV uses ‘to give you a future and a hope’ and the KJV says ‘to give you an expected end’.

It’s important to recognize that translations of the Bible are based on original manuscript and reflect different purposes.  The ESV and KJV versions are closer to actual word-for-word translations, while the NIV is written to capture the Truth of what’s written accurately while reading more in our current language we use day-to-day.  The word “prosper” is used in the NIV because it captures the spirit of hope for a future that the earlier manuscripts use.  However, the word prosper doesn’t show up in the earlier manuscript.

Prosper is such a buzzword in our culture. We value the physical world so much we tend to interpret this verse solely on God’s plans for our health and wealth here in this world only.

I love to reflect with awe and wonder about the mystery of God’s will for what form that peace (KJV) or prosperity (NIV) will take in my life. If it’s peace, we accept God’s will for our lives. If it’s prosperity that’s promised, we can claim victory in God’s plans for us through prayer.

Will we be given the healing we ask for if we believe strongly enough? Or do we pray for healing, and then simply trust God’s will in allowing seasons of suffering that serve His ultimate purposes?

If His plans are for me to prosper, why am I alone?  Why did He allow my husband to die? I’d rather have a husband. Is it His will to allow me to continue suffering? Shouldn’t prayers and obedient living heal all?

I knew the Scriptures themselves would answer this question, but only if I read the verse in context and not let it sit it all by itself on a plaque, open to be misconstrued.

So let’s open to Jeremiah and read. As we do so, we should remember, the very people Jeremiah wrote to were going through pain. Israelites were being held in captivity in Babylon because of years of turning from God. While all of the captives were Israelites, not all of them were included in the majority who had turned from God.  Some of them, including Daniel, were more than obedient and prayerful. Some scholars point out indications in the Book of Daniel that Daniel came from one of the few devout families that refused to worship other idols.

Of Daniel and his three companions, John F. Walvoord, long-time president of Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote in a commentary on bible.org  that “…all of their Hebrew names indicate their relationship to the God of Israel, and in the customs of the time, connote devout parents. This perhaps explains why these, in contrast to the other young men, are found true to God: they had godly homes in their earlier years.”

I think about how Daniel must have felt. Was he not loyal to God?  Why the suffering? Under Who’s will did Daniel remain a captive for so long?

Of course God didn’t author the evil of captivity, no more than He authors the evil which causes sickness or takes away spouses. But through the captivity, God allowed Daniel to carry out His purposes in so many ways.  The stories of the lions’ den and the fiery furnace are stories that rivet peoples attention, both when it happened and throughout the world since. His interpretation of dreams gave us valuable prophesies from the Lord.

Purpose accomplished.  And all through the suffering of captivity.

What’s your purpose?  Is it possible there’s something on the higher shelf the Lord has in store for you?

(This is the second of three parts on this message. The first has been published here last week. Stay tuned next Sunday for the next part. We’ll talk about letting go of our own plans in favor of trusting God’s plans. My prayer is that all of us step into His purpose for our living.)

Would you like to read more about dreams and goals?  Here are some articles you might try:

Following God’s Path by Sheryl Pepple

The Old Tin Ladle by Jill Byard

What’s On the High Shelf? Part One: The Toy Store

aNew Season (Rebuilding after Loss): Dreams and Goals

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil,  to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:11 (KJV)

Have you ever looked back at a time in your life when all was well? Do you recognize now that maybe you didn’t appreciate how comfortable life was?

Have you looked back at a different, more lean season in your life when you had little, or you struggled so hard to reach a goal that you had no time to sweat the small stuff.  You were connected to your passion and, most likely, to God Himself during that difficult struggle.

This week I want to turn our focus to purpose. Purpose is what drives us, makes us happy in spite of our circumstances.  Without it, you might fall into the trap of looking at your circumstance with weariness and dread.  But with it, you are lifted and carried by God, Himself, and you shine His light for others to follow.

A friend pointed me to a memorial message given by Pastor Greg Laurie for his adult son, Christopher, who died a few years ago. You can find it at this youtube link– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff5o8yRmPHc. In it, he talks about a time when Christopher was small, and Greg took him to the toy store to pick anything out.  The young boy, with as humble a heart as a boy could have, searched the lowest shelf for the longest time and carefully picked out a Hans Solo figurine, clutching it in his grasp as though it were the most precious gift in the world.

Pastor Greg was floored at how low his boy had set his sights.  He approved of the figurine and then reached to the highest shelf and grabbed the top pick of toys to go with the figurine—the Battlestar fighter ship complete with LASER torpedo sounds and lights.  Christopher’s eyes grew wide with surprise.  He couldn’t imagine his father had his sights on bigger expected-ends for him.

Now, with his son ready to be buried, Pastor Greg recognized how much like his son he was—wishing for the prize, for the son he just lost to be right there with him in the physical world, but knowing deep down inside that he simply can’t see the high shelf.  He doesn’t know the bigger picture his Heavenly Father has in mind, and he can only trust the Lord’s promise that He has plans for peace and the “expected end”.

Heavenly Father,
Sometimes we don’t know what the “expected end” for our situation is. For each of us, You have a purpose, Lord—one that glorifies You and increases the fold of sheep that turn to You because of the examples we lead. We ask that You fill every one of us with trembling trust and excitement that through our suffering in our losses, You refine us for Your purposes to bring others to Christ.  Help us to turn our eyes to the high shelf and Your purpose, not our own.

(Look for two more posts about What’s on the High Shelf in the coming weeks.  Today you heard Pastor Greg Laurie’s story about his boy in the toy shop and how God has larger things in store for us than we can possibly envision.  Next you’ll hear about God’s plans for you as promised in Jeremiah 29:11, a favorite verse for many of us.  Finally, we’ll talk about letting go of our own plans in favor of trusting God’s plans. My prayer is that all of us step into His purpose for our living.)

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 dreams and goals?  Here are some articles you might try:

It Doesn’t Make Sense by Sheryl Pepple

Mission Minded by Teri Cox


 

Navigating the Waves

 “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours out his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life. “

Psalms 42: 7-8 NLT

As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at the beach with my family and as an adult I love taking my kids to the beach as well.

I love playing in the ocean waves. I never quite know what the day is going to be like in the water.

Some days the waves are calm, gentle, rolling. I can just relax and float all day. Other days they are big and powerful and crashing. On these days I have to work really hard to keep my head above the waves.

Then there are those times when the waves come consistently and predictably for hours on end. I am able to find a rhythm as I ride them. The waves feel manageable and I start to get comfortable. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, a rogue wave will hit. Suddenly I am struggling to find my breath as I am tossed around in the water, hardly able to tell which way is up.

Sounds a little bit like grief, doesn’t it?

In the early days, weeks, and months of my widow journey I felt as if the waves of grief were relentless. Never stopping, tossing me about, and making it hard to stay above water. It was exhausting.

But there came a time when the waves of grief evened out. I found my rhythm and became so comfortable in dealing with it that there were days when I didn’t even notice them. These days would go on and on until….the rogue wave hit. Oh, and when it hits, it hits big!

It’s the days when a memory is triggered. It doesn’t really matter if it is a good memory or a bad one, either has the potential to knock me off my feet. Maybe the wave was caused by my having to help my children in their grief, or facing the reality of how much my life has changed…what I have lost. No matter what the trigger is, it has the potential to really toss me around.

Now that I am four years into this journey, I find most days the ocean is gentle and calm. I am able to relax, float, and even enjoy myself. I have found peace. But every now and again, a rogue wave still hits. The difference now is that I have learned how to navigate these waves of grief. They still have the power to knock me off my feet, but I am able to recover much faster. I find the surface quickly and am back to floating comfortably again.

How does that happen? How did I get to the point of being able to get above the wave again? By keeping my focus on the Father.

You see, as a child, when the waves would get rough, big, and hard to handle I would hold onto my dad. Because he was so much bigger than me, he was able to stand firm in waves that were knocking me about. He was steady and strong and when I went under, he pulled me up and out of the water.

This is what our Heavenly Father does for me now when those waves of grief come. By reading His word, leaning on His strength, and allowing Him to pull me up when I feel as if I am drowning, I am able to navigate the rough times. Without the steadfastness of the Lord, I would be lost in the sea of grief. I would easily be pulled under by those waves. But because of the strength I find in Him, when those waves of grief do hit me, I am able to recover and once again find my peace. And so can you.

Abba Father,
I pray for my sweet sisters who are on this journey of grief with me. I pray they will find the comfort and peace that comes with knowing you. I ask you to be the strength for each of us. When we feel as if we are drowning in the waves of grief, lift us up through your word. Help us to keep our heads above the waters and comfort us as we wait for the calmness to come again. Thank you Father for the peace that only comes from knowing you.
Amen

One of THOSE Days Part II

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

 

Today’s the day.  Whether you have decided to ignore or embrace it, it is here.

Father’s Day!

Yesterday, we heard from some of our newer team members.  Today, we continue the discussion with our more seasoned team members and what they posted last year.

From June 16, 2013

Kit:  I have always believed Father’s Day to be particularly important for children who have lost their father–why?  Because it’s an opportunity for the surviving mother to recall for them the elements of who their daddy was–those particular elements that model Christ for them.  Children who grow up without a daddy run the risk of having trouble identifying with a Father God Whom they can trust.  We who recognize this and can get our emotions under control enough can minister intentionally to our children with the purpose of filling in those blanks of what Dad means to them…which leads to what does God mean to them.  For me with boys, I’ve intentionally used Father’s Day to turn it into Brother’s Day– using that day to write a letter to each boy recalling over the past year the ways I’ve seen them grow and mature into the Christ-like man that Dad was.  That not only gives them recognition and something to look forward to, but also reinforces the parts of Dad that model Christ for them.

Linda:  The first Father’s Day for us came about a month after my husband passed.  My daughter suggested she and I spend some time together – we went and got some frozen yogurt and shared memories about him.  The second Father’s Day was a bit easier – she decided to spend the day alone using all of his power tools to build a piece of furniture – and that gave me such joy – knowing that she had inherited her dad’s talent and was using those tools on that particular day!  As the initial raw pain of my loss is beginning to subside, the wonderful memories of specific occurrences are starting to surface.  I have been giving some thought to writing those out and presenting them to my daughter at some point – perhaps next Father’s Day.

Rene:  We have kept Father’s Day fairly low key.  The first year after John’s death, the boys did each make a small gift for their dad that we took out and laid on his headstone.  Then we went to lunch somewhere we thought he would have liked.

Nancy:  Last year was our first without Mark.  We stayed home from church.  Seems like everywhere we went, there were huge banners proclaiming sales for dads, cards, etc.  It was tough.  We hibernated for the day, just being together the three of us.  This year, I asked the boys to think about what they wanted to do to celebrate.  Again, we will refrain from church.  I cannot go and watch as dads are honored, while my boys sit beside me without theirs.  I cannot sing “Faith of our Fathers” yet, but hope someday that I will be able to.  My younger son wants to get balloons to release to Heaven for his dad.  I will encourage them to attach notes to them, and we will read them aloud before releasing.

Liz:  On this day that honors fathers, we instead choose to focus on what we do have, not what we have lost.  And that is truly a lot!  Every year since Keith died, my boys have figured out cards for the men at church whom God has convicted to be part of our lives.  Last year’s card said, “As a father figure, you’ve nailed it.” and we included a nail in the cards.  We passed out upwards of 18 cards, and probably could have used a few more.  The boys get really excited, dashing around church looking for each of the men.  They welcome them with a big hug and present the cards.  They even fight over who gets to give cards to which man.  The men were touched.  One of our friends even got a bit teary, as did I a few times.

Sisters, like any other milestone on this journey, take it before the Lord.  There is no right or wrong answer.  Ask Him how you are to spend the day.  He loves you and will see you through. We are praying for you!

Singing the Second Year Blues

“Even in laughter the heart may ache.” Proverbs 14:13  NIV

Crazy things I have done without pain-killers:
I had a root canal once without anesthesia (because the dentist was a quack).
I gave birth twice without an epidural (because I was afraid of needles).
Which brings me to grief…
Grief in the second year seems like having surgery without anesthesia, because you now feel every emotion, raw and stinging.

When I joined the sisterhood of widowhood, I loved the encouragement and strength that these ladies at AWM gave me.  But I have to admit the comments they made, with a sly wink at the others, about the second year kind of unnerved me.  They suggested I wouldn’t have experienced the hardest year of my life during the first year of grief.

“I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!” I plugged my ears and shouted to no one in particular.

I am now in the middle of year two.  And I get it now…I understand what my sisters were saying.  You know that fog that filled your brain during the first year of widowhood?  It has been lifted and reality has settled in.  The reality that all those jokes you shared with someone are left hanging in the air with no one there to finish the joke or smile as you say the movie or song line. The reality that you are single parenting and you are barely hanging on some days. The reality that the love you shared with that special person is over.  The marriage is cut short.  The fathering has ended.

Many of my widow sisters weighed in on this subject recently when I posed the question.  One issue in the second year is that some of the people who wanted to help so much at the beginning are no-where to be found during the middle of year two. Another issue is that people (including us!) expect to be further along in grief so that it doesn’t actually exist anymore.

Sometimes we think or feel we should be over this already and just move along.  Haven’t we cried enough?  Haven’t we seen enough school programs without dad that we can go without crying this time?  Haven’t we sat in our usual pew at church enough times that we don’t cry as we sit there without our loved one?

No, we haven’t. You are probably going to cry again and again.  And that’s okay.

I don’t want my friends to worry that they can’t say things about their married life because they are afraid I will be sad if I hear it.  Sometimes they will say something that will trigger a memory for you about your husband.

You will have sad moments and that’s okay.

One sister heard grief described this way:
​Year One:  Grief walks over you
​Year Two:  Grief walks closely beside you
​Year Three:  You walk over grief

So year two is feeling the grief without the anesthesia.  The emotions are felt more acutely.  Reality becomes permanent.

Stay (or get back) into God’s Word during the second year.  Fill your mind with praise songs in order to keep your heart in tune with God’s heart.  Surround yourself with believers that speak truth into your life.

Which year are you in?  Has the fog cleared and you are feeling every emotion now more than ever?

When you are in the grief of the first year, it is hard to imagine feeling grief deeper.  But be aware that you might experience grief in a new and different way during your second year.  Arm yourself with Scripture by reading the Psalms or by reading a book on the promises of God.  Pray for another widow sister to walk together on the grief journey.  Look for ways to get involved in ministry at your local church.  Offer to babysit for a young mother weekly.  Help in the toddler room during the VBS week at your church.  Love on someone else.  It won’t make the grief go away, but it will give you a purpose.  And we all need a purpose in life.

Father God,
Thank You for Your love for me today.  Draw me to Yourself when I struggle the most.  Show me a purpose, a place where I can minister to someone else.  Your love never fails.  Help me see that love today.  Give me endurance on the grief journey.  Thank You for walking along beside me.
Amen