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.

Full Victory

Be my strong refuge, To which I may resort continually;  You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress.  

Psalm 71:3

The day I stood in the funeral home over my husband’s beautiful, perfect, but still body was the darkest day of my life.

I just stood there shocked that he was gone in a mere instant.  Shocked that I’d never hear his voice, feel his touch, see his eyes, never feel his warm embrace or hear his infectious laugh again. As the fierce emotions washed over me, horrified and feeling my heart and my body tear apart, a word kept rising up from the deep dark within me. CHRIST!

I was experiencing the harshest pain. I had so many questions swirling.  I was crying from unknown places.  I was forced to make unfathomable decisions that a thirty five year old shouldn’t be making.

Yet, I just kept hearing a whisper resonate deep in my soul.  CHRIST!

As the days marched on, that whisper turned to a soft low voice.

From the very same spot I was married, I stood talking about my husband to the vast many who were in attendance at his funeral; I remember hearing it a little louder still. CHRIST!

As I shared what an amazing man my husband was, so much more than that one horrific moment, I suddenly knew for sure I needed to claim Christ.  Loud and clear.  Or satan would certainly claim me in this.

As I moved beyond the first days, even deeper pain, confusion, and intense suffering caused me to go to places in my faith I had never gone before.  I grasped rather quickly that this was going to intensely and drastically shake up my walk, and open me up to depths I had never experienced.

As the days, months, and years unfolded I experienced God lead me to find

full victory in Christ

over this horrific thing.  It wasn’t easy!  There were many days this was so ugly, so vast, the pain so pressing, I wasn’t sure I would make it.  I wasn’t sure I could endure and walk this.  I wasn’t sure I truly believed God was in this.  But, I kept walking forward, claiming Christ even when it was through bitter clenched teeth, or guttural screams.  Claiming His name even when I only mouthed the words and felt so little in my heart.

Because I knew that claiming Christ, invoking His name, would protect me from the onslaught of enemy attacks. 

Proclaiming the magnificent name of THE GREAT I AM, would heal me and move to solid ground.  A place where not only would I profess Christ with my mouth, but I’d know Him again, far deeper and more profoundly in my heart.

And YES, He worked!

I stand in full victory in Christ over the suicidal death of my husband.

Trusting God has the most amazing imperfectly perfect plan for us has not been easy, but it’s been so very worth it.

I’m experiencing the wonderful privilege of seeing His name being glorified through this ugly stuff.  I stand in humble awe of the depths of His love and care over me and my kids.  I’ve learned my only need is in Christ, and I’ve grown to love and trust Him from the same depths of my soul that once barely whispered His name.

Sisters, claim full victory in Christ over your tough stuff or the enemy will claim full victory over you instead!
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Father, I thank you for the victory You’ve given me through Your Son. I thank You that I just needed to trust You and cling to You.  I thank You that You never left me or turned Your back on me even when I wasn’t sure, and was in such deep pain that I couldn’t seek You. Lord, I pray for each woman reading this.  I pray You move them and reveal Yourself to them.  I pray when it’s their time, You bring them full victory in You over their unique story.  In Your matchless name, Amen.

 

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: www.anewseason.net/author/erikag

God is Faithful

 

“and if not, He is still good” Daniel 3:18 

How we desperately wanted earthly healing.

Time and time again, we thought it was in our grasp.  We were hopeful that God had chosen to heal Tim here.

Turns out, that wasn’t His plan at all. Nothing would kill the cancerous tumor eating through my husband’s head and neck.  Not the maximum amount of radiation a human throat can handle.  Not the brutal 23 hour surgery on my 41st birthday.  A surgery so intense and complicated, it required meticulous transplantation of a large portion of his forearm into his throat. Then, they grafted new skin to his arm from the top of his thigh.  We resided in that hospital for an entire month of touch-and-go surgical recovery, returning numerous times to the operating room for emergency intervention.

But still the aggressive cancer remained, quickly overtaking the transplanted tissue.

From the point of diagnosis to the time we had exhausted all medical avenues for healing, nearly an entire year had passed.  We spent another eight months enduring nasty chemotherapy in an effort to extend his young life.  We were determined to gain more time for him with our children.  This chemo was so toxic that it was only administered as in-patient and ended up requiring a ten day hospital stay out of each twenty-one days.  It was advised against as too risky by many doctors, but we had a champion in Tim’s oncologist of twenty-five years and he was willing to try.  I vividly remember standing beside the doctor in my husband’s hospital room as the first drops dripped into his veins.  We were both holding our breath.  There was a very real probability that the drug concoction itself would end Tim’s life.  But he was losing the battle anyway, so why not try?

Eventually, the chemo destroyed our quality of life, we were spending more time in the hospital than at home and his time at home was spent weak and bed-ridden.  Chemotherapy was halted and hospice was advised.

Five months later my husband died at the age of forty five; leaving myself and our two children to complete this journey as a family of three.  Our son was fourteen and our daughter thirteen when their Daddy met Jesus face to face.

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2012-09-28 16.26.03-3

It stinks!

I am not one to sugar coat this life; never have been.  I won’t deny the pain or the agony of watching a strong man wither away as cancer claims its seeming victory.  It was horrific.  However, I am also not one to overlook the blessings from our God; never have been.  I equally cannot deny the beauty of watching a godly man lean hard into Jesus as he awaits deaths arrival.  God carried us through one step at a time.  He washed us in His indescribable peace.  He blessed us with His strength.

You see, we KNEW God would heal Tim.  We had absolutely NO doubt.  What we didn’t know was if God would choose earthly healing for him or would choose to heal him in His presence.  We hoped for healing on this earth.  We dreamed of a continued life as a family of four here.  We prayed.  We trusted.

The Kutless song “Even If” was our anthem.

“Even If the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone

You are God
You are good
Forever Faithful One

Even If the healing doesn’t come.”

God did not give us the earthly healing we craved.  Life did fall apart.  For the three of us remaining this side of heaven, dreams have been left undone.  It may look ugly and messy from the outside, and it sure feels that way at times on the inside; but God has not left us.

God DID answer our prayers for Tim’s healing.  Tim is healed completely.  God is God.  He is good.  He is faithful.  I have no doubt He will continue to show our family of three His goodness as we venture forward.  That doesn’t mean this life will be all roses and butterflies; His goodness isn’t always focused on the here and now, it has a lens on the eternal.

You see, we can’t always understand His purposes and won’t necessarily fully comprehend His ways, but we can rest in the knowledge of His goodness.

I still dream of beauty in this life.  The dreams are altering without my husband by my side, but I am still dreaming.  I will forever carry the scars of our loss, but I am gingerly learning how to move forward; carried by Tim’s love and God’s faithfulness.

Lori Reynolds Streller

Lori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering. 

If you are interested in having Lori speak at your church or function, email her at admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles written by this author: https://anewseason.net/author/loris/

 

For more on this topic see:

Unimaginable Blessings by Sheryl Pepple

Perspective Cures Envy by Erika Graham

God is Good – Even When It Seems Bad – Part Three by a collection of authors

Catch the Foxes!

Catch the foxes for us,
the little foxes that spoil the vineyards,
for our vineyards are in blossom.

Song of Solomon 2:15 (ESV)

I love my mother. She is nearly ninety years old and still loves to paint on canvas. She finds Bible verses to paint onto scenery.  She recently began talking about this little verse in the Song of Solomon. Honestly, as a widow, I avoid this book! I don’t want to read about lovers, I don’t want to watch romantic movies, I don’t want to hear about lovey-dovey couples.  But this little verse has application for all of us.

The foxes were the little destroyers coming into their new relationship. The vineyard was just beginning to take off in bloom and those pesky little foxes were tearing them up. The couple didn’t want anything to interrupt their new love.

We have an opportunity as widows to develop a relationship all over. This time with God. Afresh. Anew. Vibrant. Deep. Believers are the Bride of Christ and He is the Groom. We have the chance to dig into Scripture and get to know our Groom like never before. We have had such deep hurt in losing our spouses, but God can use our hurt to bring glory to Him in new and creative ways.

Except for the little foxes.

What are the little foxes that want to destroy your new, deeper relationship with Christ? I have “foxes” like anger or apathy. “Why would God let this awful thing happen to ME?” or “What good does it do to follow Christ when He takes away such a precious gift?” These little “foxes” can be joy stealers.  Think of the blossoming fruit as the Fruit of the Spirit or characteristics of a Believer in Christ. The “foxes” could be being too busy or apathetic, jealousy or pride. “What does SHE have that I don’t? Why would SHE get that honor?” “Why did her husband experience healing and mine didn’t? Could God actually love her MORE?” The foxes might be murmuring or complaining, impatience or ungratefulness. Those are just the “foxes” in my life! What about your life? What are your little “foxes”? Discouragement, selfishness, false doctrine, doubt, fear, gossip?

How do we fight these little “foxes” and keep them out of our growing relationship with Christ?

I researched the humane way to remove real foxes from a garden and this is what I found:

1)  Remove access to food: Get rid of the rotting food on the ground. In other words, “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 Recognize the sin in your life and confess it to God.

2) Remove places of shelter: look for areas where the foxes could hide. Stay in Scripture so you recognize false teaching. Dig into Scripture so you can hear God speak to you personally through passages. John 15 explains about abiding in Christ. Matthew 5:6 shows us we can be filled when we hunger and thirst for righteousness. Little “foxes” can hide in our relationship with God when we don’t spend time in His Word, getting to know Him, not just about Him.

3)  Deter foxes from wanting to enter: put up a fence. You could do this by fellowshipping with other believers and bonding with Christian widows as encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 (ESV)  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Extend grace to those church members who don’t know what to say. Worship is NOT what you get out of it; worship is what we put INTO it.

Have you recognized a little “fox” wanting to get in and destroy the “fruit” in your life today? I certainly have. I have almost made some of the “foxes” PETS!

I need to run…I just saw another little “fox” trying to dig into the garden.

Father God, Husband, Lover of my soul, I love you and want a deeper relationship with You. You know me inside and out, You know my every thought, so help me today to guard my heart and put a stop to the enemies trying to steal my joy. Amen

 

 

Elizabeth Dyer is a elizabeth 325x325writer/speaker with  A Widow’s Might/A New 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, and guinea pigs 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 about Battling Satan? How to Hold Thoughts Captive by Kit

 It Can by Erika

 

Don’t Entertain the Enemy’s Conversations

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

Genesis 3:1-4 (ESV)

Do you catch yourself trying to solve your way out of a bog of grief by thinking through it, only to sink deeper? I remember that feeling in those first few years of grief. Sometimes, I thought all I had to do was think about a way out of this sadness.  I would think and think, and find myself trapped in an emotional conversation with my worst enemy–the accuser. If you are there now, be encouraged.  It gets better.  Here is an article I wrote in my fourth year of grief, when I finally learned to identify pointless conversations with the devil.  Once I knew his game, I could break free from it! I hope reading where I was at year four blesses you:

I’m struck by how quickly Eve got trapped by the serpent’s conversation. At first they were just talking. Before she knew it, she found herself twisting what God really told her about the forbidden fruit. How did she get on that conversation in the first place?

Then I thought about the anxious cycles of self-talk that only led me to further unrest. How do I get in those dialogues with myself? And are these conversations with myself or the enemy?

Eve’s first mistake was to underestimate to whom she was talking. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone gifted at talking circles around you?  You end up flustered and unable to keep track of the truths in your own heart!

I have a cousin who is great at flustering people. We got along just great until I became a believing Christian. He became adversarial, initiating conversations about God—not sincere questions, but lures. He’d use his gift of gab to muddle me into tripping over my own words about faith, sometimes leaving me in tears. Then he would laugh at me. It was when my cousin laughed at my crying that I recognized the enemy working through him.

Isn’t that how satan works? He flusters a widow–twists her up in her thinking, until she buys into his lies. In The Silent Seduction of Self Talk, author Shelly Beach describes the inner voices that widows are particularly susceptible to falling prey to. What are yours? How about these…

I can’t go to church alone.

I can’t fix a faucet.

I can’t remember to take the trash out—that was my spouse’s job.

My kids will always be at a disadvantage without a father.

There’s no one else good enough to marry.

Married couples only want to socialize with other couples—no one wants to hang out with a widow.

I can’t manage my finances alone.

It would be selfish to do things for myself—my kids need me.

Do you know what to do when you get in these conversations?  I learned what to do when my cousin provoked me into another debate. I recognized with whom I’m tangling and stop tangling.

To argue with my cousin will fluster me into stumbling over my words.  I’ve learned to keep my conversations on Godly truths with him brief and straight from God’s Word. Jesus did this. Each time satan tempted him in the wilderness, Jesus answered, “It is written….”  Now when my cousin attacks, I simply leave him something to ponder about rather than engage in a long conversation with him.

Why can’t we do this with satan himself?

We can!  Just recognize the danger of letting the enemy worm confusing thoughts in our hearts. Stop him before he gets a chance. Arm ourselves with spiritual truths and reverse the lies. Yes, God will introduce me to new people at church. Yes, anyone can fix a faucet if they clear their minds and take it one step at a time. Yes, taking out the trash is my responsibility. God hasn’t given me more than I can handle.

Father God, please help our sisters to learn how to reverse satan’s lies and turn to You only.  Encourage them to talk over their worries with You and let Your Truth reign in their hearts. Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

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

Obstacles or Opportunities? by Elizabeth Dyer

Pride is NOT Pretty by Teri Cox

 

Life Coach

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

John 10:10 (ESV)

My pastor uses this verse to articulate a choice we make daily—whom do we use as a life coach? The enemy or Christ?

I thought about how the thief can fool women into twisting our challenges in the wrong direction.

How does he do that, and what would Christ have you do to respond to your struggles instead?

Grief is critical for moving forward, and it’s important to experience it and have patience with the time it takes to process your loss.  But I’ve learned to distinguish between the healthy process of grieving and signals that the thief has come to steal my future using the pain of my loss.  Let me know if you have too. I’m wondering if a run-through of a list of these might help some of us practice looking for these signals.  Here are mine.

1.       The thief coaches you into analysis paralysis. Christ comforts you and then coaches you to comfort others. In the first years of grief, I prayed and journaled about my loss, talking through feelings with a confidant.  All that gave me godly healing and comfort.  There came a time, though, when even though I knew I was healing, I found myself tempted to isolate, as though “thinking through” my loneliness would solve it.  How wrong I was.  The more I analyzed it, the more I started to wonder what was up with me—why I felt worse.  My pastor suggested I try something different— reach out and help someone lonelier than I.  I went to soup kitchens and closets, and began to pay more attention to friends and acquaintances around me who needed comfort in their situations.  Soon I forgot my own problems and found myself lifted and fulfilled.

2.       The thief coaches busyness for comfort. Christ coaches purposeful action—with prayer and time with Him topping your action list. At first I found myself consumed with the desire to organize my house. Some of it was healthy, some not.  I had to discern when God was calling me to put order to something that was interfering with moving forward in my life, and when I was simply rearranging the clutter just to get my mind off of grief.  A signal I was beginning to just rearrange to keep busy was when I found myself making appointments just to fill time so I wouldn’t have to sit by myself.  That was the thief whispering to me, “Stay busy, it doesn’t matter that you’re not accomplishing anything—just stay busy.”  Christ doesn’t say that.  He says, “…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)  Christ knows how He designed you and what actions bring fulfilling accomplishments rather than futile busyness.

3.       The thief says to go to the phone. Christ says to first go to the throne. I have those moments when the phone isn’t ringing and I’m surrounded only by my kids and I long for adult companionship—someone to talk to who doesn’t call me Mom.  My first instinct is to call someone.  I’ve learned that isn’t always healthy.  Christ says, “Come to Me all who are weary.”  I check in with Him.  Sometimes He encourages me to call a godly sister in Christ. Many times He, Himself, frees me from the weariness so I don’t even need to use the phone at all.  Soon I learned being alone isn’t as hard as I thought.

4.       The thief rushes you into life changes. Christ shows you He’s enough for now. Our world is so coached by the enemy that wants you to believe in quick fixes.  Soon after losing their spouses, many widows find themselves craving companionship and tempted to jump into a marriage. The Lord promises to defend the widow (Psalm 68:5).  If you first learn to accept His Lordship in your life and walk alone with Him for a time, you’ll find that later you’ll be better prepared to take on an earthly husband again.

5.       The thief tells you to be afraid. Christ commands you not to fear. Many of us resist the temptation to jump into relationships so well that we then feel comfortable on our own and wonder what might go wrong if we consider another marriage.  Those concerns are healthy as long as we don’t let the enemy twist those into consuming fear that keeps us alone for life.  Far from being the author of fear, Christ tells us on five occasions in the Book of John not to fear.

I’d love to add to the list if you have areas you’ve come to notice are signals that you need to turn to Christ.

Dear Lord, show our sisters that in these seasons of weakness, no matter how difficult and testing, You teach us to lean on you. Help each sister learn that by leaning on You, she becomes closer to Who exactly You made her to be. Amen.

Blessings, and I pray your week in your widowhood journey is fruitful.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about hearing God’s voice?  Here are some articles you might try:

My Own Patmos by Elizabeth Dyer

God’s Got Your Ticket by Kit Hinkle

 

Unimaginable Blessings

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

                                    Job 42:5 (NIV)

Another devastating shock.

The third such shock in my life.

In an instant my brother, then my husband, and now most recently, my father are no longer on this Earth. My brother murdered on his twenty-fourth birthday by a random shooting. My husband murdered three years ago on his way to work by a habitual drunk driver. And then just six weeks ago, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. Three deaths of immediate family members, excruciating pain and sorrow, but all three deaths have also been the catalysts for unimaginable blessings.

My brother’s death occurred when I was twenty-nine years old, the mother of two young children, trying desperately to save my first marriage. Although I had accepted Christ as a young girl, I was trying to do it all on my “own” and live my life the way I thought best. I rarely “included” God in my daily life. During the shock-filled days immediately following my brother’s death, I was totally unaware of God’s presence. But He was there. A news reporter caught me at my brother’s funeral and asked for a comment for the sensational headline story. Somehow, in spite of my numbness, the words came tumbling out about how special it was that my brother went home to God on his birthday. God provided an opportunity and the words to show His grace to others. I was so unworthy. God used me anyway. What an unimaginable blessing it is to be a part of God’s plan, a plan where He repeatedly shows us His love and faithfulness!

My husband’s death occurred just a little over three years ago. The pain of losing my sweet, dear husband has been more excruciating than I can put into words. I miss him with ever fiber of my being, every single day. But fortunately, I had drawn much closer to God before I lost my husband. Even in the midst of the initial shock of my husband’s death, I was very much aware of God’s presence. I was even able to worship God almost continually during the darkest of moments. It was during this time God blessed me by reminding me how He protected Job throughout the battle with Satan. It was impressed in my spirit that like Job – everything Satan would throw at me would be filtered by God and, like Job, I could not lose. What an unimaginable blessing it is to know, even in the toughest moments imaginable, God is faithful, we can never lose.

Now just six weeks after my father’s death, I am struggling yet again with sorrow and grief. I sometimes find that I get lost in the grief which is compounded by memories of the loss of my husband and my brother. There are days when I wonder when this pain will end. It’s so hard to even remember what life used to be like before so much loss. And then like a gentle, soothing spring rain, I become aware of God’s presence. What an unimaginable blessing it is to see God and to know the depth of the truth and blessing in Job’s words “my ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

My beloved sisters, I pray you come to know in an even deeper and more intimate way the unimaginable blessing of truly seeing God, even in the darkest of days. He loves you and is with you – always!