He Makes My Way Perfect

God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.

                                                                  2 Samuel 22:33 NLT

 

Do you ever second-guess your decisions? Do others second-guess your decisions?

It happens all the time, whether you are a widow or not. But as widows, we are often forced to make big decisions that we have either never had to make before or never had to make alone before. It can be so overwhelming, especially when we are already exhausted from grief.

One such decision can be whether to move.

I remember those first few weeks when I was trying to wrap my mind around my financial situation, the question about whether I should move started popping up. And so did the well-meaning advice. Some touted the traditional wisdom – don’t make any big decisions the first year. Some looked at the size of my house and immediately decided I should move–I didn’t need that much space or expense. While their hearts were in the right place, only one had the right answer for me and my situation.

God.

God was the only one who knew how my story would unfold over the next couple years.

He knew…

I needed to stay at my church for a couple years, surrounded by people who loved me and encouraged me through the darkest days.

I needed the structure from my job to help me as I dealt with the crazy ups and downs of various court cases related to my husband’s death that lasted for over eighteen months.

when I was ready to say yes for the next step in His plan which required me to move to a new city.

when I should sell the home I had shared with my husband for fifteen years.

it would comfort me for years to come, if I packed up my husband’s clothes and carefully arranged them in my closet at my new home.

I had to move quickly because I would soon be dealing with the death of my father.

God was the only One who knew what was to come and what I would need. He is the only One who knows it all and can make our path perfect. 

Lately, I have been reading in the Books of Samuel, and I have been reminded how closely David walked with God. Before David went into battle, He would seek God’s leading so he would be victorious. We can be victorious in every battle too, if we do what David did, and seek God’s leading. God will make our path perfect.

Perfect doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It was not easy to move to a new city. It will be two years next month, and it is still not easy. I miss my dear friends and church family in Plano, Texas. I miss being around people who actually knew my husband. I miss being around people who knew me before my heart was broken. I miss going places and being able to visualize being there with my husband. I miss the home we shared. I miss so many things, but I have tremendous peace.

I am where I am supposed to be.

My well-meaning friends had no way of knowing all that I would need as my journey progressed, but God did.

 I asked, He answered.

He led, I followed.

God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.

Lord, Thank You for watching over us and for loving us. Remind us to seek You every step of the way and to wait for You to lead. Help us to rely on Your wisdom, for only You can make the way perfect. In Your Son’s Precious Name.  Amen.


 

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 her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

 

Want to read another great article by Sheryl? Hello, my name is

Want to read another article about moving? Are You at Home by Teri Cox

 

Into the Great Unknown

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

“But I won’t know ANYBODY!”

That was me a year ago.

I had heard His call. I had purged many of my household belongings to get my home ready for sale. I had checked in with my children and made sure they were on board.

Still, I wanted to bring in a godly mentor. So I sat with the Christian counselor who had worked with my boys since the days right after they lost their father.

I tested my plan on him.  Was it crazy?  Was picking up everything and moving my family of teen boys a whole state away from everything they’ve known really God’s calling, or was I following my heart without considering the consequences?

“I can’t imagine a better move,” he said.

Not that he would recommend all widows simply pick up and move.  But I had stayed faithfully in one place during the first eight years of raising the kids alone. We were ready.

The move required many sacrifices. I was moving out of my home, out of my city, and away from everything I was accustomed to.

But I wasn’t leaving it all behind. After all, you can’t move away from God. He goes with you. Moses explained this to his people in Deuteronomy 31 as he handed over the leadership to Joshua. Isn’t his reassurance to the Israelites so relevant to each of us widows as we press forward into our futures?  Especially at a time when the reigns of the ministry are being turned over to a God-appointed leader, Sheryl. We are assured that God is with us always!

I bring friends and memories with me as well into a new community and new life which has nothing to do with anything from my past.

What a refreshing thought.  New.  As in new creation.  Paul said to the Corinthians, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (ESV)

This is not a move I could have done in those early years of grief.  But where I am with my healing… It’s perfect! The new has come!

A year later?

I’m here in Charleston, South Carolina.  I have a new church—new friends, and new interests.

And I am more intently leaning on Him.

My family’s finances are cleaner. I traded the burden of a large home for a manageable property which fits in my budget.  I’m also in a state that uses state monies to help my kids earn merit scholarships. For the first time in years I have a workable financial plan for my future.

I’ve met new friends and have kept the old.  Because I’m near the coast, I’ve had visits from friends and they reciprocate when I want to visit in North Carolina. Here’s what I love here in my new home.  Where I enjoyed my friendships understanding me as a widow and remembering Tom and the history there, it’s a bit refreshing to have new territory where I’m just Kit—a friend who happens to be single. There is acknowledgement of my past and respect for my loss, but that loss is more put into perspective here.

Everyone goes through trauma in their life.  A loss like ours doesn’t trump all the other losses so dotting the landscape of our culture—divorce, illness, financial loss, struggles with raising children. What I like about starting fresh in a new community is that my loss doesn’t take on a disproportionate attention because their focus is on getting to know me without thinking of me in the framed context of that tragic loss.

Through it all, God is with me, and He knows Tom. I don’t need the world around me to remind me how tragic it was to lose Tom. God’s comfort is enough.

And that’s where stepping away from my comfortable surroundings and moving to another state has landed me— learning that He is indeed enough!


 

Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers 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 home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. 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 Kit or a member of our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net. 

Would you like to see other articles written by Kit? See them here:  Kit Hinkle

Other articles on this topic: Lead Me- Guide Me- Walk Beside MeWhere Is Home ????

 

Pride is NOT Pretty

“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1Peter 5:5b-11 ESV

There is a lot of power in scripture.

God’s Word speaks for itself.

It speaks LOUDLY!

What part of this text from 1 Peter stands out to you? Is there a sentence or two that brings you comfort or perhaps makes you uncomfortable? Does part of it make you want to learn more or dig deeper? Is there a truth you need to read, or a reminder that hits you like a baseball bat cracking on opening day?

For me, it is the first 10 words; “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

I have by my own admission, always struggled with pride, and it has become apparent to me that I am often too proud to let others know when I am in real need of assistance.   On this journey of widowhood,  it’s hard to say when I’m pressed physically, emotionally, financially, or spiritually.   I am supposed to be strong. 

Pride is not pretty, and it can leave us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks as he prowls around seeking whom he can devour.  Pride actually makes us weaker, not stronger! Proverbs 16:18 says, Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”ESV Yet, oh the promises of God sisters, if we humble ourselves under His mighty hand, He will exalt us in His time. If we cast our cares on Him, He will shoulder them because He cares for us. After we have suffered, His grace will be sufficient. His mercy and strength will fall on us. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.

We are not alone and we DO NOT HAVE TO DO THIS ON OUR OWN. Sometimes, it is hard for us to ask for help, or reach out, or seek wise counsel because we do not want to appear foolish. This too, is pride and arrogance. Let it go and seek any assistance you may need. Someone may be waiting to bless you, if you will just ask. God may be waiting on you to say, “I give up, Lord. I can’t fix it, but You can.” That may be all He needs to shout, “FINALLY, I’ve got this!”

So, this is my honest prayer today:

God, I give up. You and You alone can help me fix the messes I have made. You and You alone can bring healing and peace. I step down Lord and long to get out of Your way. Please rescue me, right now. I need Your grace. AMEN!

Announcing aNew Season Blessings Fund

Just in time for registration for our summer camp to be open soon, aNew Season Ministries is announcing aNew Season Blessing Fund.  Our way of helping those ladies who are having financial trouble along with their grief journeys.

It started with a precious widow last year (we will call her Marie) who had trouble gathering the funds to come to our conference.

We gathered up a few of the smaller contributions some of our readers had made and offered it to Marie as a way to lower the cost of registration.  She was thrilled, and raised the rest of the funds.  We did the same for a few more, and all were thrilled to come.

Her experience last November was life changing.  Soon after, Marie emailed us wanting to turn the blessing she had been given around and give it to another hurting widow so she could come.  Here is what she said, “The conference made a huge difference in my walk as a widow. Please thank whoever gave me that $100 donation.  Since my experience blessed me far more than the $100 gift, I now want to pay that gift forward to another widow, so she too can experience what I did.”

And so her gift was just used to send Sandra (name changed for privacy), another hurting widow to our Dallas conference.

Sandra had just lost her husband a few weeks before and was left with no life insurance.  To say she was marked by her experience in Dallas is an understatement!

Our Blessings Fund helps us sustain our grassroots effort!

Our ministry is built on a grass roots passion for women who have been left husbandless.

Our team of Christ-based missionaries understands the widow like no church leader can, because we are widows. We understand the needs of a widow might be financial and physical. But, we know there is always the emotional and spiritual walk of tender mercy that’s much more important.

Our ministry team works dedicated hours with sacrificial hearts. We give our time and finances to speak at conferences and minister personally.  For our attendants, it’s not just the knowledge and wisdom they are gaining by attending and hearing us.  It’s the immersion in the experience; spending a few days with so many women who just get it.  Who not only get what it’s like to lose your husband, but get how important it is to turn to Christ during this season.

Because the Christ-centered experiences at these events are life changing.

Not only do we shine the light of Christ, lift a widow from the depth of her sorrow, and help her heart sing for joy (Job 29:13) ; but we do so with an amazingly well-arranged environment.

The music is heartfelt and soul quenching.  The speakers are dynamic and each have plenty of energy and time in the conference schedule to personally minister and love on the participants.  The fellowship begins at registration and it continues well after the conference.  We have women who attended a conference almost a year ago still talking within the same online groups, and continuing to visit each other and travel together.

The connections made are for a lifetime.

Would you like to apply for a scholarship to come to an event?

Registrations for our July Summer Camp are opening soon.  We’ve already had some individuals step up to help sponsor widows.  Click here for our ℠ Blessing Fund Application” href=”http://anewseason.net/anew-season-blessing-fund-application/”>scholarship application page.

We pray this will help you as a reader get to a conference you couldn’t get to before. What a way each of us to enjoy giving or receiving blessings.

 

Your Financial Future

Why is it hard to talk to a group of widows about their financial future?  Perhaps it’s because everyone has a different set of circumstances, and we don’t want to pry about anyone’s finances. But isn’t this one of the biggest worries for a widow? Whether you were left with a load of debt with no life insurance, or you’ve been put in charge of a large estate, the enormity of considering your financial future by yourself can worsen the stress of grieving. That’s why we’ve set aside some time before the conference for those of you who are wanting advice. Mark Thomas, a well respected financial advisor, will hold a preconference work session and be a sounding board for questions, ideas, and concerns. He will answer some of those tough questions that many of us have when we’re faced with fending for ourselves and planning for our future. While we can’t possibly give you a detailed financial road map taylored for you in the one hour workshop time, Mark can answer questions that plague us all.  Questions like:

  • Can I make it on my own financially?
  • Where do I start and how do I get organized?
  • How do I know when my house has gotten too expensive for me and I need to move?
  • How much do I have to earn on my money to make it?
  • Do I need to have a plan for my family in case something happens to me?
  • What are some do’s and don’ts to consider with my money?
  • How can I avoid getting taken advantage of financially?
  • Will inflation take away my nest egg?

We would love to have you join us this month, February 26-28 in Dallas to not only sit in on this session but to be loved on by other widows that have gone before you in this journey. For more information, click HERE! We are praying for each one of you in advance of seeing you face-to-face!   Learn more and register by clicking right here. register here   For more information, watch this video, and see you in February! confvid2

Your Financial Future? A Conference Worksession

Why is it hard to talk to a group of widows about their financial future?  Perhaps it’s because everyone has a different set of circumstances, and we don’t want to pry about anyone’s finances.

But isn’t this one of the biggest worries for a widow?

Whether you were left with a load of debt with no life insurance, or you’ve been put in charge of a large estate, the enormity of considering your financial future by yourself can worsen the stress of grieving. That’s why we’ve decided to invite Shane Snively, a financial advisor, to come to the conference.  Shane plays a key role with our ministry in that he provides strategic planning and acts as an advisor to the ministry itself.  In this work session, Shane will be a sounding board for questions, ideas, and concerns.

He will answer some of those tough questions that many of us have when we’re faced with fending for ourselves and planning for our future.

While we can’t possibly give you a detailed financial road map taylored for you in the one hour workshop time, Shane can answer questions that plague us all.  Questions like:

  • Can I make it on my own financially?
  • Where do I start and how do I get organized?
  • How do I know when my house has gotten too expensive for me and I need to move?
  • How much do I have to earn on my money to make it?
  • Do I need to have a plan for my family in case something happens to me?
  • What are some do’s and don’ts to consider with my money?
  • How can I avoid getting taken advantage of financially?
  • Will inflation take away my nest egg?

We would love to have you join us November 7-9 in Myrtle Beach, SC to not only sit in on this session but to be loved on by other widows that have gone before you in this journey. For more information, click HERE!

We are praying for each one of you ladies in advance of seeing you face-to-face in November!

 

 

God’s Got Your Ticket

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.

Psalm 119:60

“Oh how I wish…” she said.

I know her heart.  I know her finances.  I know my finances.  It all seemed impossible.

Until the Lord said do it.

So I did it–just offered. It wasn’t huge, but it would help her so much! “The Lord told me He’s got your ticket covered, so let me cover it,” I said.

She gushed with thankfulness, but she and I both knew it wasn’t me she was thanking, it was Him.

Have you ever felt the impulse to give even when you aren’t blessed with huge provision?

Isn’t that what the widow in Mark 12 must of felt?  Jesus tells us how what she gave was worth far more than the treasures from the rich men, but we don’t really get to see the story behind her giving.  I wonder if she wondered why she felt so promted to put those two mites in the offering.  She didn’t know the Son of God would be watching and that His observation about her would go down into the most read book in history.

And you don’t know why that Lord someimes  promts you to give.  Like the widow before Jesus, you simply obey and promptly.

It’s always hard to talk about giving to widows, because there are certainly many people out there that will take advantage of a widow’s emotional state and go after her money. So I simply have to remind you that while the Lord will ask you at times to be generous, He will also expect you to be wise in your stewardship and listen to His direction.

And that is what I want to share with you in this story.

Sometimes the Lord asks you to give, not because someone needs your provision, and neither because He plans for you to go without, but simply because He wants to accomplish something through the askng, the offering, and the receiving of the gifts.

So when my friend gushed about the ticket I knew the Lord would cover, and we both assumed that I was to purchase her ticket, she began to make further arrangements for her outing–particularily, plans for transportation.

She called Janet, a mutual friend, to ask for a ride to the show.

Janet’s responce:  “Oh, guess what!  I have a ticket that a friend couldn’t sell, so not only will I drive you, but you won’t need to pay for getting in!”

When I got the call we marveled.  If I hadn’t been prompt about obeying the Lord to offer to cover her ticket, she wouldn’t have asked Janet for a ride, and Janet might have found someone else to give the ticket to.

I bet He had this planned all along–to get my friend to the concert and to help her know how much I believe in her that I’d be ready and willing.

I hope He blesses you today with an instruction to be ready and willing to offer something:  your widow’s mite!

Needs Supplied

Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

What does this verse mean to me or you in our widowhood?  Our pastor spoke on this verse recently and it really got me thinking. I did some internet searching about the verse and the context, causing me to ask myself some tough questions.

The context of the verse is that the Philippian people supplied the Apostle Paul’s needs according to their poverty and God would supply their needs according to His riches. So maybe in generosity to others, God provides for the giver. I guess we have to trust God that we will have enough when we give away what isn’t ours in the first place. When we give, we are showing our faith.

Other questions started coming to light.  Is the verse only referring to spiritual needs that are met or actual financial needs? According to today’s economic standards? When Jesus fed the ‘5000’ (plus) in the New Testament, there was an abundance of leftovers. Is that what I should be expecting?  Or can I even consider that as a possibility?

George Muller

I often think of the orphan home director from 19th century England, George Muller.  He never told anyone of the needs of the orphanage and God always provided milk, bread, and all their of supplies. He is credited with this quote: “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.”  Do I have enough faith in God to sit down at an empty table, full of children and say our prayer for dinner, believing God will provide?  Have I ever tried that? Have I ever allowed God to provide in that way?

The Amplified Version of this verse says that God will “liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need”. In thinking about my situation, and the desire of my heart is to concentrate on just being a single parent while helping other widows with young children, is it fair for me to think God would possibly bring money in to pay our bills? From sources unknown?

 

The financial advice I keep getting is to work and invest and make money to take care of my family for the future. But my heart tells me to stay home and not work and be as involved as I can with my kids in their schools.  In ten years, I don’t want to regret the time I spent making money instead of spending time with them.

Both directions are good, but what does God want me to?

For now, I have decided to stretch my faith by not working outside the home.  This probably seems like foolishness to some but God has put this on my heart to do. I believe that if He has called me, He will provide for me.

This is my journey.  Yours may look very different.  That is the beauty of the Christian walk.  It looks different for everyone but the end goal of maturing in our faith is the outcome.  Don’t live like me.  Live like God leads you.

My God.

Will meet.

All my needs.

According to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

This is personal, folks.  My God.  My needs.  Your God.  Your needs.

Heavenly Father,

I pray today that I can know a peace that only You can give.  I want to believe that You will provide for all my needs but I struggle with unbelief.  Give me confidence when I doubt.  Give me strength when I feel weak.  I want to walk in faith with You today.  Thank You for Your continued grace in my life.

Amen

A True Widow’s Mite

By Kitty Hinkle

He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others.”

Luke 21:2-3 (NIV)

After going through the first few years of being without Tom, I walked a friend through her murky waters of divorce.  It was tough on her on many fronts, but one of the worst moments for her was the legal arbitration over the division of assets. She asked for my help because she felt unable to contain her emotions enough to think logically. She was not only distraught about her marriage ending, but also fearful of facing a future without a husband to depend on financially.

When all was agreed upon, she thanked me.  The final settlement was more than fair, and gave her some assurance that her finances were, for the time being, secure.

That’s when I turned to her and suggested: “before you go on with your life, get by yourself and pray about how much of this settlement the Lord wants you to give back to Him.”

Fear overtook her. “I’m lucky to even have enough to lean on for a while. I don’t have anything to give to the church.”

She didn’t understand what the giving was about. “This isn’t about money.  It’s about what money will do to you.”

That’s when I shared with her the single most critical decision I made when becoming a widow—I gave part of what I was given as a widow back to the Lord.

This isn’t something I have shared with anyone other than this friend who went through the divorce because I know that in Matthew 6:4 the Lord asks us to give in secret. I decided to open up a little about my giving here only because I want you to get the same insight I tried to share with my friend.

No matter how secure or insecure your finances are as a widow or single mom, God is clear on what your attitude towards money should be.  You cannot serve both God and money, and if you allow fear over your finances to overtake you, you’re serving the wrong god.

That’s why when I started my new life as a widow, I did so by turning over a significant amount back to my church. It was a great step in opening my heart to further giving—a path that led me to having enough confidence to still eagerly turn over a normal tithe from my social security check to the church and continue to give even further to the needy.

I tell you this as I told my friend: I don’t feel I can afford to give what I give.  I really need to watch every dime because I’ve made a financially difficult choice to stay home and homeschool my children rather than work, so my nest egg has to last at least through the raising of these children, with hopefully enough to help with my retirement.

While giving every week is sacrificial, it has an amazing effect on my heart.  I’m more empowered and confident about my future and my children’s future by giving than I would have been without doing so to the degree that I do.  It’s as though each week, when I write out a check to the church, or each time when I help someone in need, I’m not only helping the church or the needy, I’m making a loud statement to the enemy.  I’m saying, “satan, get out of my life.”  And I’m saying to money, “you don’t control me, Christ, through my actions, controls you.”

And guess what? It works! Rarely do worries over finances have me up at night—even when something disrupts my finances. Like today, when I replaced the timing belt on my van at the tune of $900 after just paying $500 for a root canal! Those big hits to my budget feel like sucker punches to me, but they are nothing for the Lord.  Giving helps me remember not to worry, but trust.

Now before you go thinking that’s just because I’m wired that way, I want you to understand—I’m not.  We all worry. It’s part of our sinful nature to worry. It’s a resulting action of our nature which Christ commands us not to do in Matthew 6:25. The peace I have over giving wasn’t there before I took action to start my giving. When I lost Tom, I worried.  So much so that when the life insurance company sent me claim forms after Tom’s death, I filled them out with trembling hands and RAN to the post office to have them overnighted to the benefits department.  I was terrified at the thought that anything could disrupt any possibility that I’d have to raise these boys without financial help.

I knew in my heart that my fear was unfounded.  The boys and I are under the Lord’s care—not the care of money. Continual giving is my way of exercising that part of my heart that has learned to trust Him more and more.

I know that some of us are comfortable and well provided for while others are scraping to get along month by month.  If you read my post a few weeks ago about my friend who’s husband has been out of work for years, you know that even with no home of their own and no money to raise four children on, she has chosen to live joyfully and her entire family keeps getting blessed just in the nick of time.  And when she gets blessed, guess what she does!  She turns around and gives part of what little she receives to someone else in need.

Father God, open the eyes of our hearts in the matters of money.  Help us to understand the power in a widow’s mite. No matter how big or how small our material fortune is, help each of us to remember it all belongs to You and that by continually giving part of it back to You each week we reclaim our trust in Your care, and only in Your care.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A couple of points of advice when giving:

1.   Give through the church—When you feel led to give significantly to the needy, try to do so through a helping hands ministry in the church, where gifts are documented for your protection.

2.   Pray for over a day, then act—Give your prayer enough time to feel that peace in your heart that you are being led to give, but not too much time where your fear of finances will pull you backwards.

3.   Pastoral oversight—as widows, we need to make sure we aren’t taken advantage of.  If you feel a leading to give, that’s great, but having a trusted pastor or believing friend (not related to the church you give to) follow your giving practices brings accountability to make sure the money is truly going to the Lord’s purposes.

A few application steps and reflections:

In your journal, write about your experiences in giving since being widowed.  When have you given, and how did it affect your state of mind when you did? Can you make any conclusions on how the act of giving back to God and to the needy has helped your confidence as a widow?

Power Verses:

Deuteronomy 16:17
”Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.”

Proverbs 11:24-25
”There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”

1 Chronicles 29:9
”Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.”

The Elephant in the Corner

By Danita Hiles

For those who have walked this journey for a season, you may have come to a turn in your road.  A place of decision where you need to decide:  ‘what now’?   You see there is a difference in existing and really living, a difference in surviving life and embracing life. Kittie wrote beautifully last week about a establishing a godly vision for your family.  Excellent advice for those of us with children still at home, but equally appropriate even if you are in a different stage of life. It’s all about intentionally choosing to live.

Reading her post, I realized some things.  It has been seven years since my husband died.  During that period of time, I have moved 10 crates of household goods, two kids and a dog 6000 miles.   Settled in a new community, found new schools and church, dentist and dance classes.  Bought a house which needed a lot of work, got a degree, made new friends, raised my girls, and generally did ‘life’.   We have adjusted to our new normal in a single-parent all female household full of Barbie clothes, jewelry and an abundance of cute shoes and estrogen.

But there in the midst of our new normal, were some things I had managed to not fully deal with.  Elephants in the corner, my mom used to say.  Things we know are there but try not to talk about. I tried not to see them.  I tried to stay busy and tiptoe around so not to wake them but every once in a while they would get noisy or clumsy or even start to smell.  Sure, I’ve thought about it, tripped over it, stressed about it, started to deal with it, but then life moves on and ‘it’ is not longer center stage.   The  elephants in my corner?  ‘Finances’…and… ‘Stuff’.

Two years ago, I finally faced the elephant in the corner called ‘Finances’.  Ugh.  This was not easy or fun but boy, was it necessary! How about you?  Are there things in your financial world which you have been putting off since becoming a widow?  Here are some practical matters that I dealt with:

  • Do you have a will or trust?  Have you spelled  out your wishes about being an organ donor, medical DNR, and /or who would make decisions for you in case you were incapacitated
  • Have you established who would have the guardianship of your children if something were to happen to you? This is vital!
  • Are all of your finances in your name, and all details concerning your finances together in a place where you can easily review them each year or where someone else could find important paperwork if needed
  • Do you have life insurance?
  • Do you have a trusted financial advisor to help you with all of the above?

Whew!  You see, it is difficult to find the energy for day-to-day life when there are undone things we constantly trip over in our minds.   Establishing a firm financial foundation gives great peace of mind and frees up your energy for other things.

The next ‘elephant in the corner’ I am facing is called ‘Stuff’.  This, for me, is a work in progress.  I went to a funeral yesterday for the father of one of my daughter’s classmates.  He was 53, and as I saw his four daughters and grieving widow in the front row of the church, I ached for all they were feeling and for all that they were going to have to walk through in the ensuing days and months.  I also thought about my Dave, a lot.  And remembered his funeral services. And then, remembered the boxes of memories from those services which have been sitting in my garage for years.  The next elephant I am going to tackle is tough one.  Four boxes labeled ‘Dave’ sitting on a low shelf which bother me every time I see them.  With God’s help, I am going to face the memories and sort the stuff.  Remember and cry and pray and sort.  And at the end, I hope to have a scrapbook for the girls and I to look through, some things to share with Dave’s mom, and a tattered box of remnants to tote to the curb for garbage.

How about you? Is there some ‘Stuff’ you need to deal with?

  • Memories from your husband’s services.   Photos, letters, e-mails to print out and save in a scrapbook for your kids. Maybe even some notes you intended to write but just never got around to. Remember, it’s NEVER too late to say thank you to someone.
  • His clothes, personal items, books – are these items a part of your life or could they perhaps be a blessing to someone else?
  • Sports equipment, tools, knick-knacks. This could apply to almost anything. Stuff that was exclusively ‘his’.  If it is not something that brings beauty, pleasure or usefulness to your life, or something you are specifically saving for your children, maybe it is time to get it go.

Life is constantly moving us forward.   Do you have any ‘elephants in the room’ like these that are perhaps keeping you from the freedom God has for your future?  This is tough stuff for all of us to face- mind if I pray for an extra portion of grace?

Lord – thank you for my sweet sister who is sitting at her computer reading this.  I pray that you would meet her right where she is.  Show her, Lord, those areas that you want her to deal with specifically.  Give her courage and wisdom to step out of the safe boundaries she has placed around her heart (and her things).   Give her energy to tackle hard stuff like finances and future plans.  Surround her with wise counsel and clear thinking.  And Lord, the stuff.  Help her deal with the stuff! The boxes and rubber maid containers full of life and memories and hopes and dreams.  Give her your creative plan to deal with the stuff of life that is keeping her from your perfect freedom.  Lord, we give you our futures and trust that you hold our pasts safe in your strong, capable hands.  In Your name we pray, amen.

Don’t get me wrong.  We will never stop missing or loving those who are gone.  Their love and laughter will forever be a part of our hearts.  But maybe, just maybe, we need to take some practical steps to embrace the life we are living today, and with God’s help, finally face those elephants in the corner once and for all so that we can walk freely into the future He has for us.