But If Not: Deliverance, Doubts, and Devotion

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.  Daniel 3:17-18 ESV

God, I know You CAN heal my husband…

God, I know You are ABLE to heal this marriage…

God, I know You are STRONG ENOUGH to protect my children from evil influences…

Have you prayed similar prayers?

My doubts never come because I think God isn’t ABLE to do something. My doubts come because I don’t think He WOULD for me. Does He love me? Does He love them more? 

Here in our passage above, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death.

Facing. Death.

They were looking it square in the eyes.

They had no options.

Worship of the True God was not up for discussion, and they knew He was able to “deliver” them. What were they thinking that word meant? Rescue them? Make the fire go out? Probably all kinds of things went through their heads, but I’m guessing NOTHING like what really happened. You can read the full chapter here.

As a result of their hearts being so full of devotion to Jehovah God, they knew even if they were not swept off in a story-book rescue, they would not worship the false gods. They knew they would follow God even into the fire. 

Where was Daniel?  He was their leader. He was the strong one in the bunch.

Have you ever felt that God took the “strong one” in your life- your husband? I hear widows say often – I lost my rock, I lost my leader, I lost my spiritual guide.  But what did these three young men do when faced with the worst possible situation?  They proclaimed their faith. Loud. And. Strong. They had been led well by Daniel. They knew the Truth. And they received something far greater than their friend’s spiritual guidance. They gained an encounter with God right in the middle of the furnace! God was the fourth man in the fire, bringing the king to see the Truth.

That hit me right between the eyes.

I was led by a man who knew God deeply. I had a spiritual guide. He was a strong influence in my life. Now it has been removed. Can I now proclaim my faith loud and strong? Am I able to stand up to adversity so others see God through my life? Do I know God enough to depend on Him during my trials?

So when the worst possible thing happens

and the “rug is pulled out from under” us,

can we STAND? 

 

If our prayers for healing seem to go unanswered,

can we keep trusting?

 

When the fires of life seem to be lapping all around us,

can we bravely stand and say,

“Even if God doesn’t deliver us from the fires,

we will still follow”?

 

Has your strong person of influence been removed from your life? Are you being tested by the “fires” of life today? What or who are you trusting in?

From the passage in Daniel, we do NOT read that the three friends pulled the covers over their heads, crying out, “If only Daniel were here! He would know what to do!” Nope, they bravely stood strong on their convictions and knew exactly what they needed to do.

I need to follow the example of these young men–  stand strong on what I know is true about God and follow Him. Sometimes that will lead me into “fires” only He can deliver me from in a grand way. And sometimes our delivery comes only after we have lived through the flames, scorched and stinking of smoke. My life circumstances do not alter the fact that God loves ME. He is the “fourth” person in the furnace with ME. 

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the influences of strong believers in our lives. Help us when we are tested and tried, to bravely stand strong on the truth of Scripture and not on our feelings. When doubts come our way, lead us back to Your Word even if we are not delivered in the way we expect or desire. Amen

 

I heard this wonderful song recently that really spoke to this subject. I hope you enjoy it. Even If by Mercy Me.  The words are amazing. Another song from a few years ago is by Kutless, also called Even If.   And if you like the idea of dancing in that fire, you will enjoy this song by Jordan Feliz.

 


 

Elizabeth Kay Dyer

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. 

Are you finding that you are missing the role your husband played? You can read articles here.

If you want inspiration and vision for your future, you can click here. 

 

 

This Isn’t What I Planned

WE HAD PLANS.

My husband Michael and I were going to have at least two children and possibly adopt a third. We were going to continue traveling the world, start a nonprofit, raise our children together, become grandparents, grow old and grey together. We were just 31 and had our entire lives ahead of us.

But what happens when our plans don’t align with the Lord’s plans or what He allows for our lives?

I have always known that being a Christian does not make me immune to the troubles of this world, but I never imagined that suicide would impact my life. I never imagined becoming a widow and sole parent at 31. It just wasn’t part of my plan.

But it happened.

And when it did, I begged and pleaded with God for another way for His will to be done until I surrendered to His will and not mine.

It can be difficult to understand when our hopes and dreams for this life don’t go along with what actually happens, bringing doubt and questions. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old son is questioning how his father is not part of the plan here on earth.

A few days ago we went by the home we shared to pick up mail – I sold the house last year before I remarried in September (that wasn’t a part of the plan either, but I am so thankful God led my husband Keith and me to each other. He is a miracle in my life!)

As we drove away my eyes began to fill with tears, and anxiety attempted to creep its way back in. My son noticed and asked, “Mommy, do you miss our house? Do you miss daddy? Why did daddy have to go to heaven before we moved? It was too soon.”

Those words, from my son, missing his daddy, are heartbreaking and a pain we will live with for a lifetime. But I’m going to share with you exactly what I shared with him.

“I do miss him very much. When we love someone and they are not here, it makes us sad. And, I don’t know the answer, buddy. When our lives don’t go as we plan and don’t look the way we always envisioned, all we can do is trust in the Lord and trust in His bigger purpose that we may not see. We have to be open to letting Him work in our lives,” I said. “I don’t understand why God allowed daddy to go to heaven so soon. I see how daddy’s life and our experience are impacting others for good, but I don’t really know the reason. We aren’t always called to understand but to trust in the Lord,” I tried to explain.

God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This was the verse written on a notecard that I found in my husband Michael’s truck. Little did I know, that notecard and this verse would help sustain me through my deepest side of grief.

I shared my heart and this verse with my son. Though I know he is so very young, I pray these words and thoughts build a foundation for his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as He grows and experiences his own grief journey.

Leaning on the Lord and not on my own understanding is how I am walking forward in this life and not just surviving but also finding joy again.

There is peace that cannot be explained when you know there is a God who sent His SON for each of us – that the Father is in control – and every single decision we make, though there is free will, doesn’t change the final outcome that He has planned.

Lord, I pray that even when we cannot understand the horrific things of this life, that you will bring us peace. Help us to walk forward with trust and without doubt, knowing you have a plan, you are with us, and you are in control. Amen.


Jennifer was widowed by suicide in January 2015. She is recently remarried and lives with her husband Keith in north central Texas. She is now the mom and step mom of three sons.  When she’s not running after three energetic boys, Jennifer loves running outdoors, enjoying nature. As her grief journey continues, she is sharing her story to help others know that it is only in the Lord that hopeful healing and walking forward are possible. 

 

 

 

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

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

 

He Will Clean It Up

Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

James 4:14 NASB

You owe me $20!

We used to say that all the time when my husband was alive.  We often ate dinner with my best friend, his best friend, and our kids.  Those people were also his sister and brother-in-law, our nieces and nephew, and our girls.  At almost every dinner, whether at home or out at a restaurant, someone knocked over a drink and it went everywhere.  My husband would call out, after the initial shock, “you owe me $20,” and we would all laugh and clean up the mess together.  For the longest time after his death, we didn’t say that anymore.

The other night, I was out with those same wonderful people.  The youngest kid is now 19 years old and we were celebrating our last dinner of the summer before the kids go back to college.  As we sat at our restaurant table, someone reached for something and, you guessed it, a drink was spilled.  Both me and my sister in law said in unison, “You owe me $20”.   For a moment, time stopped and we all looked at each other and almost simultaneously, we all smiled a secret smile as we each remembered the voice that was missing.

It has been almost six years since he left this place and went to Heaven with his Savior.  2,007 days to be exact.  This grief journey has been one of the hardest roads I have ever endured.  For some of the journey, I felt like my heart was missing.  For some of the journey, my heart was beating again, but to a different beat, not as loud or as strong on some days.  I’ve changed, evolved, grown…  This is a messy journey that changes moment by moment.

At the five year mark, I was hit in the face with a huge grief wave.  I am now starting to remember the sweet memories of him and how he made me laugh.  He made everything okay.  This makes me miss him even more some days.  I miss his ability to make me funnier, sweeter, less serious.

There are days when I long for Christ’s return.  I pray for it.  I look for it.  I weep for it.  I’m so tired of this endless journey.  I’m so tired of my heart hurting when I think about all the other family members who lost him too.

But then, I remember how he lived.  When a “catastrophe” hit – like 20 ounces of fruit punch tipped and spilled over an entire family’s dinner – he made it okay and put it into perspective.  From Christ’s view, it is all a vapor.  A moment that won’t be remembered in eternity.

So, I have to turn my view to my Savior.  I have to remember to view this journey from His point of view.  He would not ask me to take this road if it were not for His glory and His purpose.  On my very worst days, when I cry out to my Savior and ask for respite, He holds me in His arms and lets me rest there.  He walks with me through the mess of this journey, and sits with me on the side of the road when I need to take a breather.

It gets easier to live with the pain of loss.  I don’t hurt all the time like I used to.  I’m not broken.  I am a redeemed vessel.

Shattered into a million pieces and now glued back together with the Savior’s precious hands and love. 

I still laugh at the kids’ faces when they were younger and we said, “You owe me $20.”  We never collected.  After my husband said that with his serious face, he would break into a smile and say, “Help us clean up this mess before my dinner gets cold.”  And, together, we would make everything okay.

That’s how it is with Christ too!  He can make it better, if you’ll let Him, He will clean it up.

Dear Lord, Thank You for Your loving arms that wrap around me and comfort me.  I can’t imagine this journey without You.  Amen


 

Sherry LookSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is very active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and just completed her freshman year at college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

If you are interested in having Sherry or any of our team come visit your church or group please email us: admin@anewseason.net

If you liked this article, you might like: Spring Cleaning Your Soul by Katie Hagen

 

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

Elizabeth’s Favorite

Please join us for our third post in “Our Favorites” series.  We hope today’s post is a blessing!

“I picked this one because I miss so much the deep spiritual conversations I had with my husband Mark. This article has been like a worm in my brain since the day I read it…I keep thinking about it, not letting it go, even years later.”  ~Elizabeth


Saloon Door Theology  by Jo King

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Proverbs 15:3 ESV

Saloon Door Theology is a term I first heard from Dr. David Bishop during a theology seminar. It is a way of teaching a biblical concept which may not be perceived the same way by all who are listening. A saloon door is most welcoming to the first individual entering through the door. Yet, the person following may get slapped in the face as the door swings back.

A great example of saloon door theology is a pastor stating our loving Father is there for us all. Sounds great to most, right? But what about the individual who has suffered abuse at the hand of her own father? Can that person relate to the analogy? The entire concept may be lost on that person.

Suddenly I realized there are also Saloon Door Situations. I encountered a situation such as this recently. Let me take the long way around to explain.

Church has been difficult for me since my husband’s death nearly a year ago. You see, Bruce was instrumental in my returning to church and again trusting God. Therefore, every time I go, I am overwhelmed with reminders of him.

This morning, for the first time since his sudden death, I am in a good mood, eager to join together with God’s people in worship. An easy light banter with friends before the service has me smiling as I enter the choir loft, and as I sang through the first two songs. I was so ready to worship God joyfully!

Our adult education minister stands to welcome the congregation, congratulating a couple on their sixty-ninth wedding anniversary. Wow! Sixty-nine years married! And all I can think of is my Bruce. Why did we only get twenty-two years? Why was he taken from me so young?

I feel the saloon door slap me in the face. My joy is gone. Grief crashes into me, rushing over me yet again. I struggle through the rest of the music, hiding my feelings through the sermon as I sit facing the whole church in the choir loft.

The pastor begins to preach on Proverbs 15:3. The Lord is with us even when we try to hide from him or when we think he isn’t there. Even though we may perceive God is not present, the reality is God is with us at all times and in all places. That message drives home for me personally. God knows my situation. He knows I am hurting. He knows I miss my husband, and how those feelings cut like a knife into my chest. He knows that I’m just struggling to breathe and not cry in front of all these people.

The Lord is here to comfort me, holding my hand through this entire process. He will not forsake me. He has blessed me in a thousand small ways. I need only to concentrate on the blessings and not on the loss.

I begin to count those blessings. Wow! God is so great, so magnificent…and yet he is also in every small detail. I see His work appear in seemingly trivial times, as well.  I want to burst into song again. The song Count Your Blessings streams through my mind! The grief is pushed back, and joy slowly pushes through again. I feel a quiet, simple peace, joy fueled by God’s love and empowered through His Word.

Then I realize…God has done it again. He has blessed me with this pastor and his words, with music I have sung in the past, by friends who smile and give quick hugs…God is so good!

God, I pray that You continue to make me and others who are suffering aware of the many blessings You shower on each of us continuously. Thank You for Scripture which pops into our minds as we struggle. Thank You for the music streaming unbidden through our subconscious, which is always just the right song for a particular time and situation.  Thank You for the pastors who bring the honest and truthful messages of Your word, who don’t apologize when the sermon steps on toes, and who are always there when we need a human hand. Thank You, Lord, for Your love!  Amen.


Other posts in this series: Teri’s Favorite  &  Erika’s Favorite

Something More

We are blessed to introduce our newest ministry team member, Janene Gaynor.

Janene lives in the Dallas area, surrounded by her three children, their sweethearts, two grandchildren, and a host of wonderful friends.  Janene married her beloved Frank in 1972 and enjoyed 40 precious years with him. Four months after celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, Frank lost his rigorous battle against bladder cancer. Frank left a void so vast, it was like a black hole which threatened to swallow Janene whole. However, God’s faithfulness has been exceptional. As a retired minister at a local church, she spends her time painting, mentoring, serving in Stephen Ministry leadership, and seeks to trust Christ in this new season of life.

Janene @ Myrtle Beach

Please join us today as Janene shares how God has added something more to her life.


 

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you  is a separate and necessary part of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

It is a marvel how God unites two to become one in marriage. Oddly enough, I recognize and appreciate this mystery even more now that I am widowed.  In marriage each partner mutually commits strengths and abilities to benefit their shared life. With my beloved’s life amputated from my own, I felt incomplete. We had learned each other’s strengths and leaned into them as partners.  Over the years, oneness was a state of being, and once he was absent, I wondered how I was to take on as one person what had taken two?

Like many widows, I felt thrust into making important decisions when my brain was fuzzy and my heart was broken. I felt caught up short in all ways, except for the immense security I had in the love of Christ—His unchanging, all-knowing, consistent and extraordinary love.  I invited Him into all my struggles. He has walked with me since that life-altering day when Frank went to the joy of unbroken fellowship with His Lord and mine.

Since then I have made scores of difficult choices and adjustments, but I still miss my husband and the quietness of my home accentuates its emptiness.  Retired, days can lapse without a verbal conversation and the feeling of isolation encroach.

In the absence of daily verbal conversations, I recognized the legitimate need for healthy human interaction. Have you ever just wanted a hug? It turns out there is a good reason for that physiologically. Hugging increases a natural hormone which can offset the stress hormone, Cortisol. The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists the death of a spouse as number one, so when we are hugged, the love expressed is the best part but there is stress relief as well.

Although widowed, we remain part of a larger union–the body of Christ.  The body builds itself up in love and takes God’s love to the world, our collective neighbors. Both activities represent vital human connections. For some it may mean participating in a book club, a quilting or crafting group, a bible study, or volunteering at a hospital or elsewhere.

God’s answer to my prayer has evolved over time but includes hosting groups in my home, mini-retreats, quilting bees, volunteering at a veteran’s resource center, serving as a Stephen Ministry leader and most recently, joining this team, A Widow’s Might.

In this way I reject the isolation. Too much “me” time is unhealthy for me. I can think myself into a pit in a gnat’s blink.  I recharge alone but to “love one another,” I must be in community–to spend time in good company.  This, too, is a way to take ownership of my grief.

I didn’t choose to be a widow but I can choose how I’m going to live as one.

For awhile it was survival or subsistence living but God’s love, fueled by His empowering grace, led me on. Christ made possible the will and the means to embrace life with His purpose and to honor His love in my heart.  He did it. I had to take the steps.

My encouragement to you, when you are ready, is to pray and seek trusted counsel on how best to honor the need to connect with others.  Your contribution is still needed in this troubled world, and you are God’s gal for meeting needs and touching lives in very specific and special ways. God knows what that “something more,” is for you.

Lord, refresh our lives through Your love.  There are places You have reached in our hearts that only devastating pain can access and it makes us so attuned to those who suffer. Show us where to give and where to receive, how to be fruitful and how to accept, or even ask, for help.  You are a good God, faithful and true.  Guide us in community and be more than our partner, our friend, but our Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen


Are you looking for a member of our team to speak at your church or next event? Contact us at admin@anewseason.net to tell us what you are looking for and how we could help you.

Would you like to read more about helping others during your grief?

Liz Anne wrote about starting your own group in your town here. It is called Anatomy of a Widow’s Group I and II

Another article about helping others is this one by Elizabeth called Turn Back and Strengthen 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Story to Tell

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 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

Years ago, my pastor started one of his sermons by bringing up five marathon runners on stage. He proceeded to ask them what they had learned about running marathons. One of the runners is a dear friend of mine, and I will never forget something she said. Her favorite thing about running a marathon was when they were in the home stretch (so exhausted they weren’t sure if they were going to make it) runners who had already crossed the finish line would come back, run with them and cheer them on to help them finish strong. She said, “As Christians we should be doing the same thing.” I pray this ministry is doing just that.

I hope the stories we tell, encourage you to endure and run a strong race. Our dream is you will tell your stories for others when you are able. You may not realize it, but all of us have something in common with the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. We all have a story to tell of God’s love and faithfulness.

Our story is not about how tragically we lost our husbands, or how devastating grief is. All of us can remember days, weeks, months, where our loss is all we can see, hear and feel. But our story is much, much bigger. It’s about the God of all Creation, Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, and who He is. Our story leads people to see Him and who He is -His goodness, His faithfulness, His love.

Over the last four years, I have seen God’s love and faithfulness woven through the details of my life time and time again. Allow me a moment to share one from just this week.

This week, my first granddaughter (second grandchild) was born. One of my most treasured dreams was to share being a grandparent with my husband. When he was killed, the death of that dream was one of the things I struggled with the most. But God knew the desires of my heart. You can read about the extraordinary way He provided for me with my grandson in The Gospel of His Grace. I was remembering that story this week as I was driving to the hospital to visit my granddaughter. One moment I was celebrating God’s goodness and in the very next moment I was missing my husband and sad that this grandchild would never have a story like that. My heart hurt.

Yesterday my daughter and granddaughter came home from the hospital. I helped them settle in and returned to my empty house. My mind kept thinking about how my grandson had a “story” to connect him to his grandfather Dave, but our sweet new little Cora didn’t. Her beautiful name was chosen months before her birth, but it wasn’t after my husband Dave like we had hoped if she had been a boy. The phone rang. My daughter was on the phone, crying. “Are you okay?” My daughter was in utter amazed excitement. A relative of my husband Dave had contacted her through social media to let her know that, unbeknownst to us, “Cora” was the name of Dave’s grandmother! We had no idea – but God did. God knew my daughter’s desire to give her child a name to honor Dave, and He knew my sadness in thinking she had no “story” to connect her to her grandfather. As God has done time and again, He showed us His love in this amazing way. Her special name carries a special story.  

We all have stories of His love and faithfulness. We need to tell those stories so others can run with endurance. We need to be like the marathon runners, and come back to run with those behind us and cheer them on so they can run the race with endurance. Do you have a story to tell?


 

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her yellow lab, Super Duper Cooper, and spends time with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandson. 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 a team member speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Want to read another great article by Sheryl? Read He Makes My Way Perfect

Want to read another article about endurance? Endurance and Encouragement by Elizabeth

He Will Make A Way

Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.

Luke 1:45 NIV

Tonight, this verse in Luke is jumping off the page and doing a swan dive smack into the deepest part of my heart. It’s a reminder and a balm for this Mama.

From the first phone call notifying me of my husband’s death, my biggest heartbreak was what his death would mean for our three girls. How on earth would I ever be able to solo parent? All children need their daddies. Even now, The girls don’t always use words to convey their grief, often I can see it in their eyes. Every time I see that look it splinters my heart a little more.

I remembered being filled with so much uncertainty when I contemplated our little family’s road ahead. The job of running a household and raising children is a daunting task for two people; then in the blink of an eye, it was all on my shoulders. I thought…

“How am I supposed to do this when I’m a mess too?”

Then, I thought…

“I trust you, Jesus.”

I believe His answer took shape in my heart as I wrote a note to my husband for his memorial service.

We are just going to be parenting long distance. You hold our baby in heaven and I‘ll hold our babies on earth. We may be apart, but your influence will be ever fresh in our minds; we will honor you and the ONE who made you always.

This little excerpt from my letter to him lay the foundation for how God wanted me to be a solo parent. I am a solo parent in appearance sake, but clinging to God’s voice, His guidance and His love for our family reminds me, I am not doing this alone. I have the ONE who is limitless in His resources, His wisdom, and His love for all three of my girls and me. His best interest for them outweighs mine. I’m thankful to know that my husband is alive in Christ and there is help in heavenly places, as I parent.  

I’ve been reminiscing about those early moments a great deal this week. Although it’s been so hard and continues to be the hardest thing in my life to walk through, I see His hand guiding me along and making a way. Like Mary in the first chapter of Luke, I didn’t understand all the places the road would take me to, but I know to trust Him. Trust, ensures His light will brighten the road at the exact moment I place my feet upon it.

My oldest daughter graduates from college in two days, and in July, she’ll walk down the aisle and say “I do” to her groom. Weddings are so beautiful, but so hard and always bring bittersweet moments. I always hold my own hand during those ceremonies and remember our vows and the three squeezes to the hand as a reassurance from my groom as he would choose me every single time. I am so proud of my daughter and her groom to be. They have both encountered the loss of a parent. They’ve witnessed the devastating effects of a spouse left behind, but they choose to trust their heavenly Father, and they are willing to take the plunge into the wild adventure He has waiting for them. The wedding and the day will be beautiful, but my girl reminded me “It’s the days after the wedding, I want to focus on.”

Yes, that’s my promise fulfilled.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please be with us and fill in the gaps in our parenting and in our journey on this widow’s road. We give You all the glory and the honor as You work in every aspect of our lives. In Your Mighty Name, amen.

 

 

Jill is a writer/contributor for A Widow’s Might and aNew Season Ministries. Jill is smitten by the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan. It is her sanctuary. She takes every opportunity to spend time sinking her toes in the sand or swimming in its crystal clear water. In the spring of 2010 she experienced the hardest time of her life when her husband died in a motorcycle accident. She’s spent the last five years learning about the importance of walking by faith and not sight. Jill is now the torchbearer of the legacy her and her husband started twenty-five years ago. She is a mom to three strong and independent girls. Her most important goals are to honor Christ in everything she does, and to live life to the fullest in honor of her husband.


 

Solo Mom

“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 4:16

I had lunch with a friend awhile back. She told me she was in awe of me.  Not because I’m really awesome, which I usually am until I get out of bed in the morning. But, because I parent three kids all on my own.  Let me just share she’s a new mom, so she’s in that phase of being totally sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I call it “first baby syndrome”!  So to see me do it with three kids, right now to her I look pretty awesome.

Although she’s never there in the morning when we have exactly two minutes before we need to leave for school.  There’s a whole level of crazy she doesn’t see!

The life my kids and I lead is an intimate dance usually meant just for us.

Yet, from the outside in the glimpses she and others might get, we look pretty “good”.  After lunch I sat considering our conversation and her impressions of me, realizing that I am being watched by many; as a woman, as a widow, as a Christian, and particularly as a mom. That fact was heavy!

Because-

I fail every day.  I mess up and make mistakes.  I yell.  I lose my patience.  I say things I shouldn’t. I wonder sometimes if my kids’ poor behavior or attitudes are totally due to my lack luster parenting.

As a solo mom, I have made many bad decisions. And just the other day my teenage daughter reminded me in a “most helpful” way, I don’t follow through with my threats sometimes.

I’m pretty mediocre at best.

I am certainly no one to be watched.

Honestly, solo parenting is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done!

I never have a day off. Every decision is on me. Every time I need to discipline it’s just me.  I can’t “tag” out and pass them off to anyone.  Ever.

I have a village of people who help me.  And I’m blessed by that group in so many ways.  But, the bottom line is, I’m it!  I don’t get any days off.  I can’t call on my hubby to deal with a behavior issue for me.  I can’t talk out the decisions or issues I have with each of them with the guy who got them as well as I do.  When there’s an issue.  It’s just me!

And that’s just the character molding…

There’s also the schedule managing, homework completing, lunch making, clothing washing, appointment managing, taxiing, sport watching, feeding, project completing, and meet every other need I do daily.

So what’s my secret?  What’s the big epiphany to this calling as a widow?  Why does my friend admire me?  Well.  You ready?

I’m a terrible sinful person.  My kids are terrible sinful people. It’s really not us.  It’s all by the blood of Christ.

It’s the Him in us that others see.

We aren’t perfect, yet HE is.

We keep it real.  We are authentic.  We show people it’s okay to be a messy unorthodox family.  It’s okay to have grief as a family member.  It’s okay to not be totally okay.  And yes, I am even showing others, solo parenting is possible by God’s amazing grace, provision, and mercy.

I need daily love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  And I receive that and so much more when I approach His throne and lay it all before Him.

For me, I know for certain, right now there’s no greater time than this, and no greater need than the needs of a widow trying to solo parent her kids.

Father, thank You for the grace You give me as a solo mom.  Thank You that You’re the constant I can rely on when I especially fail as a solo mom.  Your mercy and grace covers me every day, and for that I am so grateful. Lord, I lift up other solo moms to You now.  Come alongside them.  And be all they need right now.  Convict them to go before Your throne and find Your grace and mercy to be exactly what they need. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, 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.

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