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

 

We believe—WE WILL WIN

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV

Do you have a battle cry?

Athletes understand a battle cry of confidence.

They also understand the struggles ahead, and if they are powerful competitors, they know what winning really means—it’s the joy of the battle, not merely a trophy.

Check out this battle cry from the 2014 World Cup:

ibelieve2014

Crowds of Americans chanted “I believe that we will win” over and over, even though all odds were against the US winning a World Cup.

All odds against winning, but we Americans shouted it anyway.

Were we ignoring the odds, or did we understand what winning really meant?  Once I got into the routine of life without my husband, I asked myself the same question…Do I understand what winning in my journey as a widow means?

They tell us widows, young and old, “you’ve got to move forward”.

That’s hard when you have layers of grief, pain, denial, anger and self-pity to overcome.

So it’s tears and stumbles. It’s waking up alone and pushing your way out of bed, only to be faced with reality again – he’s gone.

What does God say to that? Are we moving towards victory or survival?

We believe that we will win. Maybe it should be “we believe that we HAVE WON.”

Because we aren’t living to win.  We are living based on winning.  He’s already won.  You’re just living out His victory!

Not to say you won’t have trouble.  But when you do have it, God’s there to kick trouble in the shins! 2 Thessalonians 1:6 (NIV) says, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.”

In those moments when your struggles bring despair, take heart.  Everything will get better.

Those moments humble you and tear you open like a seed which must be broken open to germinate. Out of brokenness you grow into a new woman in a new season.

While you sit in your brokenness, don’t let anything replace real Truth. New romance, shopping with inheritance money, drugs, wine.  None of that will heal.  God’s Truth is the only thing that lasts in the end.

That Truth is we are not just broken because we experienced loss.  All in this world are broken and filled with the weight of our sins.  And it’s only through recognizing just how awful that sin is that we win. We take the weight of sin off and hand it over to Christ, who paid for it once and for all by shedding His blood on the cross so you can now walk free.  Is this new to you?

Don’t let Truth pass you by, sister, because it’s in that Truth that you will finally believe, from the heart that YOU WILL WIN!  Read more about His Truth and how you can be saved here, and if you need one of our writers to pray with you to accept Christ in your life, please contact us here.

Trust God on this–there will be an end to the sorrow.  Things will become new for you—that’s a promise straight from God’s Word:  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)

That new is here, and you can experience it in this life through the impact you make, and through God’s blessings of a new abundant life. Ultimately, God will make all things new in Heaven. You will be redeemed from this widowhood!

You will no longer awake in your bed alone.

You will no longer walk through life without your best friend.

You will no longer carry the burdens of your household alone.

You will have companionship, love and fellowship.

What He doesn’t heal in this life, He will completely redeem in the next!

We believe—WE WILL WIN!

Dear God, we’ve won. Already.  Help us remember that You’ve already brought victory to us by dying on the cross. You’ve defeated sin. All of our tears will be wiped away–here, or when we stand before You.  Please give all of my sisters here strength and knowledge of your Truth.  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 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 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:

Be the Ant…but What Kind of Ant?

Full Victory

Perhaps

Pushed Hard

I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

Psalm 118:13 (ESV)

My cousin came to visit.  She amazes me.  She eats a gluten-free diet, cooking and preparing everything without prepackaged short-cuts.  She exercises every morning and plans her daily activity to make the most of her now limited abilities. You see—she suffers from a chronic joint pain caused by thyroid issues.  It cropped up out of nowhere five years ago and threatened to turn her into a sidelined victim unless she pulled herself together and pressed through her chronic pain.

Then I visited my dear friend in Colorado.  She equally amazes me.  She took me hiking up steep cliffs and biking dozens of miles, outpacing me no matter how hard I peddled.  She eats a completely organic diet and never complains.  Truth is—she suffers from arthritis so severe she’ll need serious surgery soon to reduce the throbbing constant pain she endures with each step.

You would never know these women suffer as deeply as they do. They’ve learned to push–to persist through their pain and find joy in God’s glory shown through their achievements.

You find this often among athletes and successful career persons.  That competitive edge causes them to see their pain as a part of their challenge.

But with grief it’s different.

Or is it?

Oh, the suffering is different—it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual. It’s wondering if we can ever be happy again, or even content with our lives, now that the rug has been pulled out from under us.

But at about year four I began to wonder if it’s so different. I was over the initial grief and ready to move forward. I had four boys in my home, all too rambunctious for the average new husband candidate, and all too demanding of my attention for me to give a man the attention he would deserve. I knew I was in for more years of missing a man in my life, and so I was marked for a life of solitude at least for the time being.

I began to see my pain of loneliness as just that – pain.  Not unlike physical pain.  Chronic pain, because it never goes away. It’s there when I cook without a man in mind.  It’s there when I wake alone in my bed.  It’s there when I sit in the sanctuary at church and see all the other ladies with their best friend hubbies at their sides.

I can rationalize about it—I don’t need a man, I’m doing great.  I can indulge it—This hurts! Let me tell you about it!  I can try to escape from it—Hey, a glass of wine tonight sounds good!

But the bottom line is – that pain is always there.  Always.

Okay, have I hit a nerve?  Have I pained you enough?  Please accept my apologies.  I just want you to go with me around one more corner.

It’s always there, but so is my cousin’s pain from her thyroid condition.  So is my Colorado friend’s pain as she hikes with arthritis 1000 feet straight up a mountain in the Vail Valley.  So how do they smile?  How do they accept it?

They each made a choice: industry over idleness.

Those in pain who continue remaining idle focus on their pain and begin to wither.

These women do not wither.  They thrive.  They recognize their pain as real, and they lean on their Lord Jesus Christ to help them push through it.  When asked how they endure, one answered “obedience”.  Christ calls her to act out the duties of a Proverbs 31 woman and push through the temptation to remain idle. “Once I push through it, the pain continues, but I don’t notice it so much because there is so much joy in my life.”  She reminded me she doesn’t do it alone. God helps her as He promises in Psalm 118:13:  I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.

God knows we all suffer in the world.  But He reminds us that the suffering will give birth to new life if we endure and continue to give Him glory.  “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?” says the LORD; “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?” says your God. (Isaiah 66:9 ESV)

Are you pushed hard? Let Him help you push back!

Dear Father,

Lift my sisters and bring them joy, even in their loneliness.  Help them know they will not be lonely forever.  You will bring them fellowship here in this abundant life, and You will bring an end to all suffering when You come again.  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 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 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:

Loneliness, Get Out!

Solitude vs Loneliness

Where Does My Help Come From

 

Dishonorable Honor

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”  

John 3:30 ESV

 

My husband’s death was classified as a non-line of duty death.

And to add insult to injury, it was said to be “dishonorable”.

Suicide tends to be viewed that way!

The words that are used cut deep.

Selfish

Weak

Dishonorable

Coward

Lost

Choice

Those are all words I’ve heard.  Many times over.

They might even have crept into my mind, at times, when this became too hard.  When the pain was so deep.  The missing so vast.  The resent palpable.

It’s easy to go there.  Suicide means the person wanted to die right?  They chose it?

During our two year journey leading up to Scott’s death, we saw numerous doctors and tried many avenues of treatment.  We were relentless in trying to find a “cure”.  Because honestly, that’s what it was going to take.  Scott’s brain was betraying him by becoming diseased and his doctors, the treatment plan, and his work support were failing him.  He wanted a cure as badly as anyone else who gets the bad news that he has a long term, debilitating, life altering, life-threatening illness.

But nothing worked; he just kept getting worse and worse.  As a police officer with a weapon at his side, our very worst fear came true that horrific day.

I’ve had many people in our world make me feel less. Early on I allowed the shame to get the better of me.

I wanted a different story.  I wanted an “honorable” one!

I watched other police officers who died a hero’s death receive such honor and glory.  Their names go on a wall in Washington, they are memorialized, and the brotherhood of police speak highly of them for years to come.  Scott was soon forgotten by many and dismissed by others.  There’s no post each year in the State Police on his end of watch, no overt recognition of Scott’s contributions, service and dedication to the job he loved.

A job he loved SO MUCH,

that he died trying to keep it…

By doing and taking anything asked of him, even when it was making him deteriorate rapidly, harming instead of helping.

These realities stung for a quite awhile for me early on, and gave the enemy a foothold in my life.  It was hard not to resent others and be bitter.  My husband died while trying to get well.  But all anyone outside of this saw was… my husband “chose” to die.

I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt suicide is never a choice.  Suicide goes against every natural defense our great God gave us.  The whole fight or flight brain make-up.  Once that instinct is lost, once someone gets so deep into this vastly misunderstood and brutal disease, it’s hard to know what’s what anymore.  Scott often said he felt like his brain was betraying him and he could no longer use the things and parts he knew well, to stop it.

Scott’s end was tragic and horrific.

But,

Of course there is a but…

Now I realize that God gave me this “dishonorable” story for His greater honor.

You see, I now know if Scott died in a different manner he would’ve become more and God would’ve been less in so many ways.  Scott would be the greater focus and not God.  When I was stripped of even my pride in how Scott died, that’s where God met me.  That’s where He said, “Watch Me use this for My greater glory. Watch Me use that man of yours and his horrific story to touch lives for My Kingdom.”

Understanding today more fully how He would use Scott’s story, I realize that if I truly trust God then I can trust His plan for me too. Even if that plan is a death that’s “dishonorable” in the world’s eyes.  Because in Him I find perfect honor.

So, on this the sixth anniversary of Scott’s Heaven day, I say thank You!  Thank You, God, for the dishonorable honor of my story, and for being bigger and more in this story than anything or anyone else. Thank you for making us decrease, so You could increase.

God is more and we are less, for that I am grateful!

Father God, helps us to embrace our story.  Even if it’s not honorable.  Help us to desire for You to be much more and us to be much less.  Help us to humble ourselves before You and submit to Your authority in this tough journey. Help us to remember that You alone deserve the honor and glory.  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.

Other articles written by our team with a similar theme: Let God & More Vast

 

That Day

 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.  The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you. The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us. With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 118: 21-29

 

June 16th, 2010, the day my husband got heaven, was the day my world and life as I knew it ended.

That day, my husband took his own life.

It was the single hardest day of my life and it broke me in so many ways.  But, I wasn’t the only one.  What happened that day broke many people; our children, our family, our friends, our church, and many strangers who heard it as breaking news or went by the scene.

That day I was spared though, because I wasn’t with him, and I didn’t find him.  Yet, there were a handful of strangers who weren’t spared. I’ve thought and prayed for them often.

There was a man who stopped within seconds and was the first to try to help him. Then a second man who stopped and helped, and a woman had stopped too. In the end I was told there were about five in those first precious minutes, who stopped on the side of a busy road and were there to help and protect my beloved husband until paramedics arrived.

I prayed for years that they’d be protected from what they saw and what they did would be honored.  That it wouldn’t scar them.  And that they could find peace in it.  I even prayed for the opportunity to thank them.

Last year, I got a message from the woman who stopped. We corresponded via email and I could sense her pain.  After a time, we agreed to meet.

As we sat and talked, she shared intimate details of that precious horrific day. We both shed mighty tears. At one point she shared that she’d been tormented by what she saw.  That she kept dreaming of it and couldn’t get one picture out of her head; the image of his strong left hand where his shining unblemished wedding band was resting gently on his leg. As she sobbed and shared, I reached up and took my necklace off.

In it was something I needed her to hold, because I had taken Scott’s wedding ring and made a necklace from it. I handed it to her and she held it so tight. In that moment, I saw her release some of the pain of that day and those terrible images. She could see the new I created in that ring and in our life. I shared my great God with her too. And I pray she saw Him shine as I talked.

I’ve never seen her since, but I’m so grateful for our time. I’m most grateful God gave me a chance to meet one of those who cared enough to stop. I love that I can now pray so specifically for her, and I hope that she saw God’s love and glory on full display in and through me.

I share this with you sisters because your story matters.  Your husband’s death matters. Your suffering matters.  The suffering of others matters.  The kindness of others matters.  The healing matters. And sharing matters!

God wants to use your ugly, messy, sad, precious story for His glory. It’s certainly not easy or comfortable for some of us. There are those who will never see our story through the grace filled, redemptive eyes of Christ, and will instead judge us. But, that’s ok.  I can’t control others.  I can just lay my story humbly before the Lord, committing it to Him, relinquishing my control over it.

The day I met that woman is right up there with one of my toughest days. The harsh realities of what happened that day reopened wounds for me.  But my comfort, my heart, my pride, or even my privacy doesn’t matter if I’m blocking God from using me, my husband, and our story to help others and bring Him great glory!

If I hide away, I’m just giving the enemy more victory and I’m robbing God!  And I’m wasting our suffering. What additional tragedy that would be.

My husband is gone.  The days leading up to it were terrible.  And his death was horrible.  But that’s where the bad stops and the good starts.  God allowed bad, but He will work it for His good and glory.  I believe and trust that!

And I trust Him!

That day, our story became HIS STORY!

Father, help us to be bold.  Helps us to humbly watch You work and move in our lives.  Give us the courage to relinquish any shame we may feel over our story to Your greater purposes.  Let us be a light in dark places, and give us opportunities to share even the ugly stuff, so we can glorify You.  I thank You for the messy story You’ve given me and I pray, Lord, that You give me the strength I need to walk this journey as a humble servant in Your mighty hands.  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 her or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author click here.

Related articles on this topic: Story Keepers and The End of the Story?

Loneliness, Get Out!

“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26 (ESV)

Loneliness kept me up at night and woke me each morning.

I would get so mad at him. But he was relentless.

He’d poke at my gut and mess with my bedding until I’d roll, and toss and turn myself awake.

I’d tell him get out of my bed!

And he would.

Only to leave me with a cold metal laptop sleeping beside me.

Then I would rub my eyes and recognize the pointlessness of pounding my pillow. I’d pull open that laptop and occupy those wasted hours of no sleep by trying to accomplish some task.

At first I’d think, I’ve done it! Kicked him out for good! I’d hammered out an article for the ministry.  I’d tell myself how grateful I am for modern technology. With just an arm-reach beside me, I could have the right tools to capture my inspiration and put my ideas to work!

But once the article was done, something else awaited me on that laptop: social media–facebook photos of married couples, that friend who hasn’t come around lately, or twitter tweets of people living the life I lived when I had my husband. Loneliness returned to feed on my thoughts, and this time he brought with him yet another poor bedfellow–Anxiety.

I’d cry out to God , “why won’t You take these feelings away?”

He answered by bringing Scripture to my heart.

In the eleventh chapter of Luke (Luke 11:24-26 above), Jesus explains it’s not enough to clean your heart of evil spirits by taking action on your own.  If you rid yourself of bad thoughts and attitudes, but don’t fill your heart with Christ, those thoughts will return and compound themselves with other vices.

By taking the edge off my loneliness with being busy, was I not sweeping my heart clean from Loneliness without guarding my heart from his return?

Taking God at His word, I changed my nighttime habits. I intentionally place all electronics on the other side of the room and leave my sleeping to just that–sleeping.

The only reading material I keep at my bedside now is Scripture.

That way God is there with me whenever I need Him.  When I drift to sleep and when I wake.

On the first morning after making this change, I awoke again before the sun came up and considered how different it felt without that computer right there to grab.

That lonely feeling was there, but I reached for God, not busyness.  I grabbed the Bible right there on my nightstand and let God’s words cradle me, relax me and lull me back to sleep.

And when the sun rose, I felt energized, wanting to pull back the covers and get started with my day.

The result?  My home is cleaner.  My bills are paid earlier.  My kids get a cooked breakfast more often, and I’m exercising more.

And most of all, I’ve kicked loneliness out of my bed and invited in the true Comforter.

How about you?  How do you awake in the morning?

Precious Father God, for years grief took over my nights and mornings, slowing my progress through the day. But You are good to heal, Lord.  Thank you.  Please lift my sister out of her loneliness and give her Your Holy Spirit and carry her through this day.  Amen.


 

Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker, and was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008.  After four years with that ministry, she expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she stepped back from the leadership role, 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 another team member speak, please email us at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author: Kit Hinkle

Would you like to read more about sleeplessness?  Here are some articles you might try:

A Cry in the Night by Linda Lint

Miscellaneous ramblings of a tired mommy by Nancy Howell

Marital Bed

“And the two shall become one flesh…”

Mark 10:8 

I’m gonna say it.

The thing widows all think, but as Christians we don’t say.

I.  Miss.  My.  Marital.  Bed.

I miss the warmth and unity experienced there.  I miss the ease and selflessness that happened so perfectly there.  THE ONENESS.  The warm welcoming body that lay beside me.  The unison we experienced.  The desire we had for one another.  The deep intimacy and trust I felt in giving my entire body over to another.  The care and love found there.

As Christians, in a world that has perverted and twisted sex, it’s hard to say these things.  We are shamed into thinking that talking about sex is sinful.  Sex is certainly not something the widowed or Christian community talks about openly or comfortably.

But God didn’t make sex “dirty”, man did.  God created in us a desire towards one another.  He defined that desire, in Genesis, to be a good thing within the confines of His creation of marriage.  He tells us that in marriage we can experience the full glory of Him through our sexual intimacy. We can sacrificially give ourselves to another the way Christ gave Himself up for us. (Romans 5:22-32)

Yes, God ordains sex…when it’s under His authority and we obey Him.

We know because we experienced that God ordained oneness in our marriages.

But what happens when our husbands are gone?

My marital bed is now cold and harsh.  I roll over to an empty space. I have no husband to hold me, to make me feel beautiful, to desire me, or to even warm my feet and hands up when they’re freezing!

Sometimes I go back.  I have such deep meaningful memories of that bed and our years and nights spent there.  Babies were created there.  Pleasure and love was found there.  Deep trust and utter selflessness were solidified there.  Many prayers, and both happy and sad tears flowed there.  I miss it greatly.

Recently a reader asked our team if it was okay for her to pleasure herself to those memories.

Yes, I am going there!

Because, it’s something we all experience.  We all have desires in some facet or another.

As Christian widows we believe God is now our spiritual husband, but we are still human.. and we are all still alive!

As I’ve prayed over this myself and sought answers, I can tell you Scripture doesn’t give a definitive yes or no answer to this deep question.

Yet, I did find these important truths:

~ Scripture is clear that I’m no longer married and when I get to heaven I won’t be married again to my husband.  Matthew 22:30, Romans 7:2, 1 Corinthians 7:39 (read more here: Heaven and Marriage)

~ Scripture is clear that if I lust after another man outside of marriage in my mind and heart, whether I act on it or not, it is sin.  Matthew 5:28

And the two keys that apply to us now…

~ Scripture is clear that I am not to conform to this world.  But, I am to transform my mind by renewing it with God’s Word and His will for me now.  Romans 12:2

~ Scripture is clear I’m to seek to honor and obey God and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me in every area of my life.  Romans 2:6-8

So, what does this mean for us in this area?

It means since there’s no clear cut answer, we must take it before The Lord, Sister.  Allowing Him to reveal His will to us.  Allowing Him to work and move us.  Allowing Him to convict our hearts and minds here.

Allowing Him to then rule our heart, mind, and yes even our sexual desires.

Personally, I have been convicted to ask God to remove those desires from me, until (or if) He calls me to remarry.  It’s been a process and I still have to lay it before Him.  But He is helping me hold steadfast to my conviction.

Yet, maybe that’s not exactly where He will lead you. This is deeply intimate and personal, and something only God can clearly reveal, through His Spirit and His Word, what He wants you to do.

I have some questions for your personal reflection that will help you discern this:

~ What is my motive here, in other words, why do I think I need to do this?
~ Afterwards, how will it actually make me feel?
~ Is what I am doing honoring God and conveying that I trust Him to fill me up and meet ALL my needs?

God wants no idol before Him.  That means even the sexual memories (or any other memory) of our late husbands!

Sisters, widowhood is tough stuff with lots of layers. Walking this journey is not for the faint of heart.  It’s messy.  It’s painful.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s hard.

But God is so much bigger and He’s got even this deeply personal and tough topic.  Take it before the Cross and watch Him grow you, help you, and convict you.

Father God, I am a woman with desires. Please help those desires to honor You still in every way.  Lord, block me from creating any idols in my mind and heart that would distract me from You.  Show me where I have sinned.  And protect me from those areas.  I lay even my physical desires and memories before You now.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.

{If you missed it, earlier this week Lori talked about the loss of physical touch. Read it here: The Physical Loss}

 


295163_1927953164696_1418199297_31839733_2097799_nErika 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 her speak, please contact her via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles on a similar topic:  The Physical Loss, Missing Pieces and The Two Shall be One

 

Christmas is Over: Is a Grinch Still Lurking?

For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me.

Proverbs 25:17 ESV

Are they singing  fal-hoom four way or fah-hume foray?

Each Christmas season as a child I watched the one airing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, anxiously waiting for the Hoo’s down in Hooville to sing their welcome Christmas song. Then the curious little writer in me would try to make out the words and get them on paper.

The one word in the opening line I settled on is foray.  It seemed to fit with a story like the Grinch. To foray, according to Webster’s dictionary, means to make a raid or brief invasion. That’s exactly what the Grinch was doing, so I envisioned the song-writer secretly putting foray in the opening line just for curious children to unravel the song’s riddle.

It never occurred to me that versions of the Grinch invade our Christmas season each year. But Christmastime,when widows are particularly vulnerable, others who are suffering from the loss of your husband may come to you, as a symbol of their loss, for closure. Dealing with the resulting “foray” into your life can be a daunting task.  I wrote about this in The Ornament Without a Hook.  You can read it here.

Here are some steps I’ve taken.  Perhaps they might help you as well.

G – Go to God for real truth

I try to rise above the fray of attack and simply turn to God’s truth. He’s in control, and He’s strong enough to heal hearts in this situation.

Scripture reference: “For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me (Psalm 31:3 ESV)

R – Rightly or wrongly, you will be judged. Accept it and don’t be afraid

My kids learned from a PBS cartoon called Lil Bill. His grandmother told him to say the meanest thing back to the kid who kept insulting him: “So?”.  When a grinch insults you with something that’s true, answer him or her, “So? Are you going to forgive me or what?”  Sometimes the accusation was put out there just to get a reaction. Use the most powerful response of all, silence.

Scripture reference:  Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

I – Interrupt the Enemy – set the right boundaries

If someone tangles with you, find them resources to help what’s bothering them. For example, soon after my loss, while I struggled with helping myself and four boys through the grief, a beloved family member needed attention and guidance that I simply couldn’t give her. She needed a father-figure mentor like Tom.  I set up a small account and placed the control of the account in this mentor’s hands, letting all involved know that she always needs to go to him for advice before using the funds. His mentorship was invaluable and allowed me space to focus on the minor children.

Scripture reference: Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house, lest he have his fill of you and hate you. (Proverbs 25:17 ESV)

N – No Pride – Look in the mirror and don’t let pride cloud what you see

It’s easy to assume it’s the other person—that a loved one is acting out inappropriately–not you. When a loved one takes our inventory for us and tells us how awful we are, we want to reject it all. Accept that you aren’t perfect. Shroud yourself in the love of Christ to allow yourself to look in the mirror and not be horribly shaken by what you see. Then separate the false accusations from what needs to be owned and handled.

Scripture reference: “Teach me, and I will be silent; make me understand how I have gone astray.” (Job 6:24 ESV)

C – Consider what you have on your plate

There are seasons in widowhood where you don’t need to tangle with someone who creates chaos. You’re going through loss in the worst way—he was your husband, your best friend.  You may have children to raise alone now or elderly parents to care for alone, or you may have his business affairs to wrap up or take on.  Just getting back on your feet is an ordeal!

When my loss was fresh, I had four little ones tugging at my feet. Older relatives who kept me on my phone had to learn not to overwhelm me.  When someone’s dependency and emotional needs get too large for you to take on along with the responsibilities you’ve been left with, it’s time to recognize you can’t do it all.

Scripture reference: But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. (Job 6:24 ESV)

H – Hallelujah, you can consider it all joy

In the New Testament, James tells us to consider all your struggles joy.  If you’re in a situation where your husband has died and others are mad about what you did with his car or his stocks or any other assets, you feel attacked.  Turn in the Bible when you’ve been wrongly accused. When we are falsely accused, sometimes the best response is gentleness.

Scripture reference: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (James 1:2 ESV)

Abba Father, would You give my sister enough gumption to kick satan out of her life and forgive those who don’t even realize they are spoiling her holiday season?  Help her grow to know You better day by day.  Amen.

Kit 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. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  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: anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about Christmas or Friendship?  Here are some articles you might try:

Entering the Holidays by Elizabeth Dyer

Gifts by Erika Graham

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective by Kit Hinkle

Get Out of the Cave

There he went into a cave and spent the night.

1 Kings 19:9 NIV

What comes to mind when you think of a cave? Darkness? Fear? Safety?

I was thinking about caves the other day. I remembered going on a cave tour once where Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer hid, in the books by Mark Twain. The guide turned off the lights and, wow, it got pitch black. This darkness convinced me I would never want to hide in a cave! Is there was a word for “something darker than dark”?

Yet, I can hide in a different kind of cave as a widow. This cave is where I hide because of fear or loneliness. Maybe I don’t want to deal with the realities of life as a widow. I don’t want to answer the questions. I feel more secure hiding in my cave. But this cave is not dark and scary–I have it “decorated” quite nicely with some lies from Satan and a lovely coat of paint of the insecurities I have held onto! I am comfortable here in my cave. I even justify my cave living by telling myself it is where I need to stay.

I could relate to a story of cave dwelling I discovered in the Old Testament.  In 1 Kings 19 we find Elijah running for his life from King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. God showed him mercy by sending angels to minister to him with food and drink. He traveled for forty days and forty nights until he reached a cave where he could spend the night.

“What are you doing here, Elijah?” God asked him.

Elijah responded, “I have done all the right things–I have obeyed You and followed You and now I am the only one left following You in the whole country!”

Sounds similar to a few statements I made to God recently… I have stayed involved at my church. I’ve focused on raising the kids.  I’ve been careful with our family accounts. Why haven’t You given me the “desires of my heart”?

God was having none of that, “Elijah, get out of this cave and stand on this mountain in my presence so I can pass by and show you my glory.”

God brought a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire, YET the Lord speaks to Elijah in a whisper. God created the big things but chose to use the calm whisper to reach Elijah this time.

I often look for the “Moses Experience” with fire or wind, but sometimes God’s presence is in the silence.  Because,

divine silence does not mean divine inactivity. (from Reformation Study Bible)

Here’s where I was surprised to read, “When Elijah heard it, he covered his face and went out of the cave.” Didn’t God ask him to come out earlier? Why was Elijah still in the cave? What did God say in that whisper that brought Elijah out, when the earthquake, fire, or wind did not?

Again, God asked, “Elijah, what are you doing in here?”

His answer? Same song, second verse. Apparently all the wind and shaking and fire didn’t clue Elijah in that God is all-powerful.

Caves have their purpose.  Though there comes a point where we need to leave them behind.

Elijah found rest and safety in the cave. But it was time to be on his way.

Sometimes leaving my “cave” of fear might be as simple as venturing out to a movie by myself. I am learning to be okay with sitting alone at the movies or at a coffee shop debate. I have also attended two ministry-related workshops. God is pushing me to leave my “cave” of fear and see His grand plan unfold for this ministry in particular and in my personal life.

God is still working in the world, and He is still wanting to use ME to help in His plans!

I want to cling to Father God’s hand as He leads me on this new journey. I want to see His glory. I want to be blown away by the power of God.

To keep my mind focused as I walk boldly from my cave of fear, I have fallen in love with this song–Michael W Smith. Sovereign Over Us. The words, Sisters, the words. I trust this song blesses you like it has me. God still has a plan for you and for me.

photo colorado

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

 

 

Want to read more by Elizabeth Dyer? Click here for her articles.

Looking for another article about courage on this journey of widowhood? The Tunnel by Linda Lint

 

 

Abba, Father

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called Children of God.”                                                                                                                                                  (1 John 3:1  ESV)

Autumn days are just around the corner.  Truly, my favorite time of the year.  A break from the summer heat.  Excitement of football games.  Cool crisp mornings.  Pumpkin flavored everything!

And schools are back in session.

This fall marks the fifth year moving a daughter into her desired college living space.  Five years ago was the last college move for my oldest daughter and the first one made on “our own”.  No daddy to help.  This year marks the last college move for me as my second daughter begins her senior year.  It was particularly hard as I struggled once again with not only the physical efforts a move takes, but the emotional toll of watching another daughter achieve a big accomplishment without daddy here to cheer her on. It is so easy to hurt for the moments his absence is unequivocally felt.

As per custom, during move-in weekend, we take a drive through campus. There is always lots of hustle and bustle with incoming freshmen and returning students moving into dorms and apartments. Each excited to begin a new chapter in their lives. I share in their excitement, really, I do. But, a sadness creeps over me as I observe all the helping dads on site. I don’t mind saying, it still hurts to see daughters telling their dads where to take their items and watch them smiling and relishing this moment of independence. I can’t help but to let tears fall as I yearn for my girl’s dad to be present, not only for these moves, but for their lives. I yearn for them to have him here to share these exciting times, to hear his input from questions they have, provide protection from fears and comfort when things don’t go as planned.

Tears fall.  Heart aches.

And yet.  

In the midst of the hurt, I hear His still quiet whisper,

and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”  (2 Corinthians 6:18 ESV)

“I love them.  I am their Father.  My love will never leave, nor forsake.”  His whispers assure me of their Kinship to Him. In the years of college attendance, I know that our Father God has walked closely with my girls. He has been their protector and comforter. He has been faithful in their journey to move forward.

I am now more aware of moments that reach out to cause pain from what we no longer have. I call them “joy robbers”.  Much like a thief creeping into your home to rob you of your belongings, these fears, doubts and why me’s invade our thoughts and hearts to rob us of  joyous living.  What a comfort it is to truly know the love which God has for us.  Romans 8:15 says “and by Him we cry Abba, Father.”

Abba, Father. Don’t you just love that!  It just resonates love.

What a privilege it is to be called a son or daughter of God.  When we experience great pain, we must actively guard our hearts from negative invasions that cause us to question His love for us. Can you say even in the midst of a painful event that God is good? If so, you are living under the Abba love of God.  If you struggle to answer yes, I encourage you to search scripture for assurance of His love. There are many verses that speak of the Father’s love for us. My favorites include:  Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 68: 5-6, John 14:16, and 1 John 3:1.

My heart radiates joy as I watch my daughter’s seek the kinship of Abba, Father. I know they miss their earthly father every day, but trusting in their Heavenly Father is how they are choosing to live.

Heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the love You lavish on us so we can be Your child.  I pray You will protect our hearts from the negativities life can deliver us and  find the joyous life You desire for us.  Amen.