The Valley of the Shadow

 

 

The valley of the shadow…

What is it?

I used to believe it referred to fear of facing terminal illness, or fearing death itself. And it still might mean that to some. But I now realize it can also mean walking through the shadow of death as one left behind.

How to describe walking through this valley?

Feeling dazed and confused. Navigating a deep, dark, winding pathway with no guardrails in sight.

Fear!

Understandably, my husband’s unexpected death shook me to my core. In that moment nothing felt safe or secure. Our family as we knew it was gone forever, yet I was supposed to carry on as head of our home; to lead our children without him.

For the first time in life, I feared the future.

Initially, fear coursed through my veins. Listening to the frightened child within that wanted to curl up and shut out the world would have been easy. But faith in God and the example of other believers would not let me dwell in that world of fear.

My grandmother, twice widowed, gave me hope to find happiness after loss. And I remembered the faithful example of my great-aunt, widowed through tragedy; she was the one who helped me and countless others memorize Psalm 23 at her private kindergarten.

David gave us words to live by in that Psalm, where he reminded himself to rest in God no matter what his circumstance.

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

 

David did not get a free pass to go around the valley. He had to walk through it. So did my grandmother and my great-aunt. Now it was my turn. Believers called to walk through the valley will have access to God’s rod and staff to receive comfort. Clinging to that allowed me to rise above the fear that threatened to overtake my mind.

Over five years have passed since I began my personal journey through the valley. Many life events have taken place.

I have successfully homeschooled and graduated four of our five children, bought and sold homes, and made financial decisions alone. I have married again to a wonderful man and blended our families.

God has helped me overcome fear of the unknown and of failure.

Yet fear still tries to raise its ugly head in unexpected ways sometimes.

I attribute that to the valley of the shadow of death, and as a result I am not sure it will ever go completely away. Mostly, it arises now when I hear of someone else facing trauma or loss. Because I know the pain and the fear they are facing, I feel panic begin. It is a sympathetic response on my part. I don’t want anyone to suffer that pain and fear.

Honestly, sometimes it also still shows up when I feel out of control in my own life. I quickly take myself back to Scripture that comforted me before, not just one verse, but the whole chapter of Psalm 23.

And as promised, He restores my soul.

 

Father, the valley of the shadow of death is not an easy place to be. Naturally, we want to remain on the mountaintop instead, although we know that is not possible. We know You are with us on our journey and Your rod and staff do comfort us. Please help us to cling to Your word for the restoration of our weary souls, and allow us to dwell in Your house forever. Amen.


Terri Oxner Sharp is a wife, mother, grandmother, homeschool teacher, and a writer for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. Her first husband passed away suddenly in 2012. She gives God all the glory for how He has grown her spiritually on her widow journey, in preparation for her new journey into a blended family. Terri and her second husband live in Arkansas with the final child still living at home from their combined family of seven children, two son-in-loves, and two grandsons. She loves to be with people who love to laugh, enjoys spending time with their grandchildren, who know her as “GiGi”, and feels called to minister to other women who find themselves bewildered to be on a widow’s path as well.

 If you are interested in having Terri or any of our writing team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net.

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Sunday ReCap for the Week of August 13

Enjoy our week of social media posts!


He works ALL things! Our prayer over you this week.. Lord transform each sister into the butterfly you long for her to be. Bring her out of the darkness and into the light. Help her to dream new dreams, and live life fully as You move and lead.

 


S H E E R  P A N I C !

I have absolutely nothing left to give. Why am I doing this?

These words can grip my soul as tenaciously as the many fears that gripped my heart in those first few months of widowhood.

These words, I have battled with often. They creep in unexpectedly and can overwhelm me for days. Sometimes they even immobilize me – especially when it is time to write to you. And as the battle rages on, once again, I ask, “why am I doing this?”

Because I was created to glorify Him!

Join me today as we meditate on our true purpose. https://anewseason.net/widows-might/created-for-his-glory/

 


 

Laughter is good medicine.


God is the great I AM. Rest tonight in these reassurances, and remember we are so blessed to be called HIS.


We are created for His glory!

The task before me today is not by chance. God knows what I am struggling with, He knows what I am thinking. He knows my shortcomings. And long ago He wrote me a love letter to encourage my heart. In His letter, He reminded me I was created for His glory. He also wrote a story about another widow, who out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. She thought she had nothing left to give…He saw so much more. He saw her sacrifice and her heart. In that one small act, she glorified Him.https://anewseason.net/widows-might/created-for-his-glory/

 


 

What is your heart’s greatest desire?

Sisters, my prayer for you today is that you will live today to its fullest. You will not let fear or grief or insecurities or just everyday distractions stop you from giving all that you have.

It may be …
•a simple smile or a thank you when you are at your lowest.
•a prayer of praise acknowledging He is your Lord and Savior.
•trusting Him to get you through one more day.
•taking on a new challenge or forgiving someone that really doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
•sharing your story and testifying about the magnificence of His grace.

Whatever He puts before you, may your sacrifice and your heart glorify Him!
https://anewseason.net/widows-might/created-for-his-glory/


Do you believe this? Do you trust God knows where you are and how long you’ve been there? Or are you pressing God and becoming impatient and frustrated?


 

Yesterday would’ve been my 20th wedding anniversary. Instead it was just what a typical summer day is now for me and my kids. And that was good, because God is good. The day may not be what I had envisioned twenty years ago when we stood before the Lord saying “I do”, but it was still a good day.

We are moving forward and God continues to heal and restore us. Grief and loss still exist and yesterday they were lurking a bit more than usual because the truth is, grief and loss go with us as we continue on. They’ve become a part of who we are until we move on to heaven.

My marriage and my loss have certainly molded who I am now. My kids are his legacy. And they want to know him, remember him, and take him with them as they grow up. So, yesterday we talked about him a bit more than usual, we laughed, we rejoiced in what was what is and what will come, we cried, and I shared the tales from our wedding day they’ve heard time and again.

Moving forward while remembering is good. It shows how mighty and perfect our God is and how much more He loves and cares for us. It honors both our heavenly Father and my kids earthly father.

Please join me today as I share more about this journey I am on: http://anewseason.net/widows-might/get-over-it/
~Erika


 

Our memories are a wonderful blessing. It’s a privilege to be able to honor and remember our beloved husbands.


Yes! We can choose to honor God even on the special anniversaries. He is worthy of our praise that will never be determined by our circumstances. ~Erika


It really all boils down to this simple truth. Living this life with a perspective of gratitude alters everything. Will you choose to be grateful?


God is in the restoration business. As you walk forward trust in Him. I stand ahead on this journey sharing with you, even the special anniversaries that are no longer, are no match for our great and matchless Lord. ~Erika

 


He is both with us now in the grieving and has gone before us to prepare our place in heaven. He is all knowing and all present. Our Lord, the great I Am.

 

Created for His Glory

S H E E R   P A N I C !

I have absolutely nothing left to give. Why am I doing this? 

These words can grip my soul as tenaciously as the many fears that gripped my heart in those first few months of widowhood.

These words, I have battled with often. They creep in unexpectedly and can overwhelm me for days. Sometimes they even immobilize me – especially when it is time to write to you. And as the battle rages on, once again, I ask, “Why am I doing this?”

Because I was created to glorify Him!

Our purpose is explicitly spelled out in Isaiah:

 

                                                                “everyone who is called by my name,

                                                                  whom I created for my glory,

                                                                   whom I formed and made.”

                                                                                                    Isaiah 43:7  ESV                        

We are created for His glory!

The task before me today is not by chance. God knows what I am struggling with, He knows what I am thinking. He knows my shortcomings. And long ago He wrote me a love letter to encourage my heart. In His letter, He reminded me I was created for His glory. He also wrote a story about another widow, who out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. She thought she had nothing left to give…He saw so much more. He saw her sacrifice and her heart. In that one small act, she glorified Him. Can you imagine?

With a simple act of sacrifice today we can glorify our Lord – the great I Am!

So it matters not, if I feel totally inadequate, or if I panic about the words to write so you will be encouraged. It matters not, if my heart continually breaks for your pain until I feel like I have nothing left to give. What does matter is today I will give everything I have to give. Tomorrow I hope to do the same. The trials I have faced have worked much like the refiner’s fire. My greatest desire is to do what I was created to do – glorify Him!

What is your heart’s greatest desire?

Sisters, my prayer for you today is that you will live today to its fullest. You will not let fear or grief or insecurities or just everyday distractions stop you from giving all that you have.

It may be …

  • a simple smile or a thank you when you are at your lowest.
  • a prayer of praise acknowledging He is your Lord and Savior.
  • trusting Him to get you through one more day.
  • taking on a new challenge or forgiving someone that really doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
  • sharing your story and testifying about the magnificence of His grace.

Whatever He puts before you, may your sacrifice and your heart glorify Him!

Let these words from the hymn “Hark, The Voice of Jesus Calling” inspire you to continue running the race as the faithful servant you are:

Let none hear you idly saying,

There is nothing I can do.

While the lost of earth are dying,

And the Master calls for you;

Take the task He gives you gladly;

Let His work your pleasure be;

Answer quickly when He calls you,

Here am I, send me, send me.

       Words by Daniel March, 1868 in the hymn “Hark, The Voice of Jesus Calling”


SherylPeppletb

Sheryl Pepple is President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandchildren. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.

If you are interested in having Sheryl or another team member speak please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Want to read another article by this author? I Have a Purpose

Want to read another article? I am not Equipped

 

Sunday ReCap for the Week of August 5

Here is the week in review for August 5- 11, 2017

 

The Lord is our source of strength.
Ultimately, human joy last only for a time, but what comes from the Lord is eternal! And this includes JOY. We pray each of you experience this source of strength as you step forward. Joy comes in the morning.


 

 

We have all heard that we should walk through the open doors God provides.

Today I am sharing about a time when God opened the doors for me but didn’t allow me to walk through.

After the initial shock of the situation wore off, I remembered a certain Bible passage that helped me deal with my feelings about the open door.

Please join me on the blog today! And you can make comments on the website if you prefer. ~Elizabeth

https://anewseason.net/widows-might/sometimes/


 

It’s our Monday funny… everything is bigger at the super stores like this one. Even a beach towel. haha. Enjoy this laugh with us tonight.


 

What were Paul and Silas doing when the prison doors were opened?

If you turn to Acts 16: 25, it says they were praying and singing to God. When we feel imprisoned by our circumstances or emotions, what is our response? I often cry and call a friend or my mother! How would our attitude change if we stopped to pray and sing to God?

That is the response I am trying to add to my artillery to fight ungratefulness, loneliness, and the myriad of other situations that hit each day. It may not fix everything, but it will change my response to the situation. Will you join me in this endeavor? ~Elizabeth

God will hold our hand and speak into us. Wow! Cling to that amazing promise tonight.

 


 

I found this little nugget in scripture and wanted to share it with you today! Shine on, Sisters! 

Click here for the 1 minute video! 

​https://youtu.be/g9tUl1wT7ys

 

 

 


We can depend upon the one who conquered death.

Depend upon the one who arose from the grave and will restore His own.

Death truly was swallowed up by victory and all praise goes to the Lord, Jesus Christ! Set Him as your focus, Sisters, He is real and death will not have the final word.


Who do you like better?” 
This is the awkward, yet somewhat serious and comical question my eight-year-old son by marriage asked a couple of months ago as we were leaving the cemetery. “I don’t like either of them better,” I said, “They are two different people.”

God made us for love, and when our husbands move from this life to heaven, that love never changes or goes away. Our hearts are made bigger, there’s an expansion. Join me today as I share more on love after loss and how God expands our hearts. ~Jennifer
https://anewseason.net/w…/the-heart-expands-love-after-loss/

 


 

Sometimes, when words fail us, we can instead just call out the name of Jesus. It’s ok to not have words, because you DO have Jesus!


 

Yesterday I shared how the impossible to love again is made possible with God. I believe widowhood is a journey God calls us on and I know we are not all called to remarry, but if we are, our hearts should be so close to God, “a man has to chase Him” to find us. When we stay close to the Lord, we can follow where he leads. ~Jennifer



No matter where God calls us on this journey, our HOPE is in HIM!


If you are weary tonight, weathered by grief, come to Him, sit with Him, and let Him pour into you His perfect love. He will give you rest and comfort. Meditate on this promise tonight as you prepare your heart and mind to worship Him tomorrow.


 

The Heart Expands – Love After Loss

“Who do you like better?”

This is the awkward, yet somewhat serious and comical question my eight-year-old son by marriage asked a couple of months ago as we were leaving the cemetery. The five of us – my husband Keith and I and our three boys – visited my late husband Michael’s graveside, for the first time all together, on Father’s Day.

While there, we prayed, and I cried. As we got into the car he was curious – “You were fine on the way here. Why did you get so upset?”

We talk about Michael in our home often and he seems to get that my son Ty lost his father, but I am not sure he understands the role Michael played in my life as my husband. So I tried to explain, “You know how your dad and I are married, and he is my husband? Well, Ty’s dad, Michael, was also my husband. And just like I love your dad very much, I love Michael too, and I miss him. God has blessed me with two amazing men and marriages!”

Just as I was getting those words out, his question quickly came, “Who do you like better?” Keith and I looked at each other and tried not to chuckle but to him, and so many others who have not experienced the horrific loss of a spouse, it can be nearly impossible to understand how our hearts can expand. It was difficult for me to understand, too, until it happened to me. The Lord allowed my husband Michael to make his way to heaven sooner than I ever planned and finding love again was never in my plans either, but it was in the Lord’s.

Since that June day, this question has stuck with me. I believe widowhood is a journey God calls us on and I know we are not all called to remarry, but for those of us who are, let me try to explain.

“I don’t like either of them better,” I said, “They are two different people. Just as God loves all of us as His children and how your dad loves you and your brother the same, no more, no less – that is how I feel about your dad and Michael.”

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

You see, God made us for love, and when our husbands move from this life to heaven, that love never changes or goes away. Our hearts are made bigger, there’s an expansion, just as they would when a family has another child. Their love for their first child is not replaced or diminished when they have the second. The same goes for a remarried widow. Our late husbands and the love we have for them can never be replaced. And because we know that loving and losing is a reality – it takes great strength and courage to allow ourselves to fall in love again. That is where we have to lean on the Lord and follow where He is leading.

Learning to love again can be full of fear and “what ifs” and if God does lead you there, the duality of grief and the love for our late husbands will always stand. But that doesn’t mean our hearts aren’t large enough to love another.

God made us to love, and life can still be beautiful.

Lord, We want to stay close to you, so we know where you are leading. Open our hearts to what you have planned for us. Give us strength and courage for this new life, wherever you call us. Amen.

________________________________________________________________________________

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

Want to read another article by Jennifer? I am not Equipped

Want to read another article about love after loss? When Joy and Sorrow Mingle

Sometimes We Stay Put When the Door is Open

All the signs were there. The “open doors”. The obvious connections. The chemistry.

I met someone (a man) at an event, and we immediately hit it off. We had known each other in a “previous” life — you know how the story goes…Reacquainted after the death of our spouses.

It was all there. The spiritual connection. The humor. The intellectual side. We had similar backgrounds. On and on it went.

I truly wasn’t interested in anything beyond yet, so I was enjoying all aspects of this new found friendship. Texting about our days. Sharing recipes (how funny is that?!). Meeting a few times for lunch. I was in the middle of trying to sell my home, move, downsize– in other words,  I was very settled in this community. 

So when the friendship came to a screeching halt because he decided to get married (to someone else!), I was, once again, angry at God. A little at the guy maybe. But God, because He seemed to open all these doors, but then didn’t let me walk through. Sounded like a Bible passage I remembered reading…

Remember the passage in Acts 16? Let me set the story up.

Paul and Silas were in jail. Beaten with rods, stripped, taken to the inner cell, feet fastened in stocks. Around midnight, they were praying and singing hymns with the other prisoners listening, when suddenly there was a terrible earthquake. The floors shook. the doors opened, and the chains fell off!

Let me just stop there a second and say something. We have been having some pretty controversial big earthquakes in Oklahoma over the past few years. I was awakened from sleep with the last big one. But I have never EVER had one knock doors open or make my bed come apart or my lamps fall from shelves. That would be one frightening earthquake.

So back to the prisoners. All their chains were broken. They were free. Paul and Silas had open doors. Were they praying for release? Was this their answer from God? They knew God had walked Peter out of jail. It could happen, they thought. God opens doors in crazy ways.

This time God opened doors and said, “Sit your bottoms down and don’t you move them.” At least that’s how I imagine Him saying it…

The jailer came running in to see, planning to kill himself because he knew they had all made a run for it. We know nothing about the other prisoners. Maybe some became followers of Paul and Silas from then on. We know one thing for certain. The jailer, poised to plunge the knife into his own neck, found all the prisoners sitting there accounted for. What kind of God would lead them to sit when the doors are open?

No one sits when the doors are open, do they? But sometimes God tells us to.

God brought the jailer to Paul and Silas and then turned around, bringing Paul and Silas to the jailer’s home.

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ!”

If Paul and Silas had said, “Here’s our answer to prayer! Open doors! Let’s go!” we don’t know that the jailer and his family would have been saved.

Sometimes God tells us to sit when the doors are open. Because He has another plan. A different plan. A unique plan. Just for me. Sometimes the open door makes so much more sense to our human minds. But God wants us to follow Him, even when it means to sit still.

Don’t look for open doors today. Listen to God. He might be nudging you to walk through or just sit still for a while longer.

Father God, thank You for guiding us and providing for us. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the way You are leading us today. Let us sit still with patience when necessary and move with enthusiasm when You send us forward. Amen

 


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

 

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

You can read more articles about dating by clicking here.

You might want to read more articles about hearing God’s voice through Scripture. Click here. 

Sunday ReCap for the Week of July 30

 

Here’s what we published on our social media pages for this week.

 

Our prayer over you tonight as you prepare for a new week is this. That the Spirit will lead you where your faith is without borders; being made stronger in the presence of our Savior.


 

I was settled comfortably in a waiting room chair when I heard sniffling and looked up.

“Oh, this is embarrassing,” the receptionist said, dabbing her eyes. “I’ve been doing this for days, and I can’t stop.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, putting down the magazine.

“No, it’s okay. But it’s weird. I’m that woman that never cries. But I can’t shake the thoughts of what just happened to a friend.” She grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. “She was going along with her life, just like I do. Then, out of nowhere, her husband just died.”

I took it in. Just the mention of that scenario and a wave of bad memories flooded in as though they were yesterday.

Read more by Kit at https://anewseason.net/widows-might/imagine/


 

 

 

 

Enjoy some laughter with us tonight. If you’re not ready to laugh just yet that’s ok. It will come. Just give yourself grace. Blessings to each of you tonight.

 


 

Today we are pleased to share a guest blog by Lauren Dugger.

At the end of her article are some links if you would like to guest blog with us.

“Sometimes Jesus was so sweet with me that He would give me clear solutions immediately. Should I sell my house and leave the school my kindergartner had just started? A meeting at the social security office gave me the answer – we could afford to stay. Now both my sons are thriving in their school.

Other times, He revealed Himself through others’ loving acts of kindness. One of my best friends, Melissa, lived an hour away but came to my house every Monday for weeks to help me get through the mind-numbing “business of death.” From making spreadsheets to driving me around town while I was on the phone with AT&T for two hours, she was by my side, encouraging me to get my tasks done.”

Read the complete article here. https://anewseason.net/widows-might/and-he-did/


 

Trust God in this dark sisters. He is worthy!

 


 

 

 

We pray this today over each of you.


 

Comfort. It is the result of resting in God’s sovereignty and loving rule over my life.
Peace. I’m not free from troubles, but I possess a profound sense of well being because God is in control. The one who collapsed, can uphold another by saying:
It’s ok to weep. It’s ok to ask questions.
Cling to Christ. He carries.


 

“Teacher, what shall we do?”- Luke 3:12 (ESV)
What a great question! Countless times I have asked this very same question.
While my husband was alive, he and I made up a happy we. I know I have changed since my beloved died, and I wistfully recall the pre-widow me. Although fundamentally me, I am not the same. Some changes are probably permanent and others temporary, but during the waves of grief I now realize God was teaching me and answering that question. To learn how, please continue reading: https://anewseason.net/widows-might/what-shall-we-do/


 

Sometimes we sing an old hymn at church that is just what I need to hear. We sang this at the closing of the service and I wanted to share it with you! Leave it there, sisters! Leave it there! ~Elizabeth

 


 

There is a reason Jesus was so often addressed as, “Teacher.”
Even when I am just putting one foot in front of the other and experiencing widow’s brain, God still instructs, guides, provides, cares and carries. He is true to His love and character as our Teacher and has great instruction for us at all times, especially the very hardest times.I share my experience here:https://anewseason.net/widows-might/what-shall-we-do/


Finding things to be grateful for right now might be harder. But, we try to designate a day here at AWM, to claim out our grateful. Because, God is still good. He is still working. And He does love us. Please share your grateful for this week with us. It’s Grateful Friday, sisters!


Sometimes I wonder how often I miss seeing something wonderful God has done. It can be helpful at times to look in the rear view mirror to spot His activity and the ways He cared and equipped. I did this to identify His answers to this question when my husband died, “What should I do now, God?” He didn’t unroll a scroll of answers but He met me gently in moments and guided me. His answers were sweet and so clear once I viewed them after the fact. Please join me as I share about God’s sweet answers: https://anewseason.net/widows-might/what-shall-we-do/


 

Does the heaviness of sorrows weigh you down? Lay it down before the Lord tonight, sisters.

 

What Shall We Do?

Teacher, what shall we do?”- Luke 3:12 (ESV)

What a great question! Countless times I have asked this very same question.

While my husband was alive, he and I made up a happy we. I know I have changed since my beloved died, and I wistfully recall the pre-widow me. Although fundamentally me, I am not the same. Some changes are probably permanent and others temporary, but during the waves of grief I now realize God was teaching me and answering that question.

Here are some examples.

  • I treasure those I love more than ever.
  • I see how fragile life is and how it can change in a heartbeat.
  • I appreciate the eternal destination we have in Christ more than ever!.
  • While I’m likely to isolate when my pain is high, I’ve learned to balance staying connected with others.
  • I have felt the cradling of prayers and want others to experience this.
  • I relate to God’s desire to have a relationship with us, because relational separation is painful and eternal separation I cannot conceive.
  • I have seen great kindnesses and support from my Christian community and felt God’s love through them.
  • Widow’s brain has required I extend grace to myself,  which I extend also to those lost to know what to say or not say.
  • I am less light-hearted but more tender-hearted.
  • I protect my emotional reserves before it vaporizes.
  • I have also known joy and learned new skills, and slayed giants as a widow. God has made new things possible I could not have imagined.
  • Most assuredly, I know God as my Rock. More than ever.

Perhaps some of these points have struck a chord with you. What would be on your list?

The impact of the death of a spouse cannot help but to change us. Even so, with God on our side, He adds new facets to our understanding as He gently guides us. Most of the points I list were taught without even registering at the time.  Yet, God knew the question, “What do I do God?” has been a constant refrain in my heart, even when my mind was in a widow’s fog. My tears were prayers and so are yours.

We have an amazingly good God, who is more perfectly diligent in attention for our best than we know how to be.

Please join me in prayer to Him now:

Precious God of the Universe, Our Creator, Our Savior, Our Lord, thank You that we are eternally Your’s through Christ. Thank you for every facet you add to us as you so lovingly guide and instruct us, especially at times of great sorrow and pain. Thank You forever, dear Jesus! Amen.

 


 

Janene @ Myrtle Beach

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

And He Did!

Today we welcome our guest Lauren Jones Dugger, who lives in Frisco, Texas, with her six- and eight-year-old sons. She lost her husband to an infection from a simple outpatient surgery in September, 2014. She is a managing director at a public relations firm, serves in her church’s grief and recovery ministries, and loves spending time with her boys.

 


 

So far, 2014 has the record for the worst year of my life. My husband and I kicked off that year with serious marital problems. I had strep throat six times before I had to have my tonsils removed in the spring. And in the fall, I lost my husband to an unexpected death.

But throughout that entire year, I never felt closer to my Savior. I had plenty of loving family and friends who had all the answers to my problems. But I made my decisions based on the direction that God provided me. Everything outside of my relationship with God was noise and chaos. With God, I felt safe. With God, I knew I could overcome 2014 and so could my three- and five-year-old sons.

God Will Step In

After my husband passed, my Christian counselor kept reminding me of God’s love and His promises to His children. Those promises included that He would step in as the husband I didn’t have, and He would step in as the father my children had lost. And He did.

Psalms 68:5 (NIV)

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

 

God Will Provide

My counselor also encouraged me to ask God for everything I needed and to be specific. I wrote down all my needs, from great to small, and prayed about them. I asked Him to provide the help we needed. And He did.

Matthew 7:7-11 (NIV)

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

 

Sometimes Jesus was so sweet with me that He would give me clear solutions immediately. Should I sell my house and leave the school my kindergartener had just started? A meeting at the social security office gave me the answer – we could afford to stay. Now both my sons are thriving in their school.

Other times, He revealed Himself through others’ loving acts of kindness. One of my best friends, Melissa, lived an hour away but came to my house every Monday for weeks to help me get through the mind-numbing “business of death.” From making spreadsheets to driving me around town while I was on the phone with AT&T for two hours, she was by my side, encouraging me to get my tasks done.

One of those tasks was changing the lightbulbs in my house. Overlooking that little chore was casting my family into a literal darkness to match the threatening darkness we were already experiencing.  My friend and I made a detailed list of all the lightbulbs I needed, headed to the hardware store, and were able to replace each one.  When the kids got home later that day, it was like Christmas. “We have lights! We have lights again!”

John 1:5 (NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

And He Did

My fellow widows, God promises we will never be alone. He keeps that promise by keeping His covenant with us. He also provides loving people to walk beside us and behind us, picking up all the pieces of our lives that we’re dropping in our grief.

2014 will always be the year that knocked me down flat and then sat on me so I couldn’t get up. But God could get me up. And He did.

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for always getting us back up and clinging to Your promises. So many life events hit us from every direction. And through these events we want to SHINE in the darkness. Give us strength today to SHINE. Amen


 

 

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Who Could Imagine?

 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (ESV)

I was settled comfortably in a waiting room chair when I heard sniffling and looked up.

“Oh, this is embarrassing,” the receptionist said, dabbing her eyes. “I’ve been doing this for days, and I can’t stop.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, putting down the magazine.

“No, it’s okay. But it’s weird. I’m that woman that never cries. But I can’t shake the thoughts of what just happened to a friend.” She grabbed a tissue and blew her nose. “She was going along with her life, just like I do. Then, out of nowhere, her husband just died.”

I took it in. Just the mention of that scenario and a wave of bad memories flooded in as though they were yesterday. “Heart attack?”

She nodded. “He was fifty-one! I can’t imagine what she’s going through!”

I can, I thought and then took a deep breath. “Kids?”

“Three of the sweetest you can imagine. Her thirteen-year-old plays baseball with my thirteen-year-old.” She clenched her fists, fighting more tears, and shook her head. “Just like that—her life is changed forever.”

“Yes,” I said, my eyes meeting hers. “Completely changed forever.”

She thought for a moment. “I don’t know what to say to her. I’ve always been a tough woman. Stubborn. In my zone. I only focus on my world—my husband, my kids, my job. I’ve lost touch with so many people over the years as though no one really mattered.”

We both sat quietly for a moment while we thought about what she just said.

Then she added, “but she matters.”

And here is where I break from the story to speak to each of you sisters on this widow journey.  I’m amazed at God’s goodness to bring my meeting with the receptionist in the waiting room together.  It wasn’t an accident—her being struck with sadness about seeing the exact same tragedy I had once experienced and me hearing her gut-wrenching story that was exactly like my loss.

Isn’t God’s purpose so clear in these moments?  Paul talks about this when he writes to the Corinthians.  He tells them that when God comforts us in our struggles, we are then able to turn around and comfort others. My conversation with this receptionist happened almost ten years since losing Tom—long enough for me to have so much of God’s healing and joy restored in my life, and long enough for me to be prepared to send that healing and restoration through this woman to help the new widow in her life.

All these thoughts ran through my head as I listened to her describe the impact of her friend’s loss on her heart.

“I’m just a baseball mom acquaintance,” she said. “She never really mattered to me before, but now she matters, and I’m thinking about people I’ve neglected and ignored over the years. I’m not close to anyone but my family.”

I nodded. “People matter. The older we get, the more important it is to recognize it before it’s too late.”

“I don’t know what to do for her. I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”

Silence for a moment. Should I tell her I’m a widow? Yes, I should. God brought this moment for a reason.

“I can imagine what she’s going through,” I finally said. “I lived it. I was her.”

She looked puzzled.

“I was her age with four little boys when my husband died with no warning whatsoever. I was exactly where she is right now.”

She stared in my eyes, seeming to try to connect her friend’s situation to me. “I would have never guessed. You seem happy.”

“I am. It hasn’t been easy, but my life is good.”

“I can’t imagine what she’s going through.”

“Parts of being a widow stinks, but she will need a friend who can show her she’s more than a widow. She’s going to need a good friend.”

And as she began to ask how to be a good friend, I found myself making a new friend.

That was something I couldn’t imagine. Who could imagine His infinite wisdom and power—how the Almighty Counselor knew that only someone who had walked in my shoes could counsel this woman.

Lord thank you for bringing me comfort so that I can be used to comfort others.

 


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

If you are looking for more to read about comforting others, consider these posts from our team:

Inviting Others into Your Healing Journey

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

The Other Side of Sob