When Things Aren’t What They Seemed

Secrets.

What do we do with hurtful information we find out about our late husbands?

Recently we received a private message from one of our readers about a very difficult subject. She had discovered some damaging information about her husband after his death. How should she handle this situation?

I had a similar discussion with a friend a while back. She had discovered some information about her late husband that was quite disturbing. It colored everything. Totally shocking.

Her children were young adults when their father passed away after a lengthy illness. The couple had fallen in love in college and had weathered the storms of church disappointments, addiction, job loss, raising children, and moving across country. But now that he was gone, one of her children shared some information about Dad. Her stomach felt sick thinking her husband could have been so horrible to their child, thinking about her child living with the secret pain for many years. She asked me what she should do.

Praying fervently in my heart before proceeding, I said,  “Lord, I don’t even know what to say. Guide my words, please.” 

As widows, what do we do with information about our husbands after they are gone? Mysterious credit card receipts. Suspicious or even pornographic websites on his computer. Surprise allegations he physically abused one of the grandchildren or other children. Could he have been involved in something illegal? Life insurance never purchased after years of pestering, and now bankruptcy? Some of our widows were separated from their husbands at the time of their sudden deaths. 

We can’t confront them now, so what do we do with the information?

Forgiving might be hardest when the recipient isn’t alive.

You have probably heard many quotes about forgiveness -like holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We are killing ourselves when we don’t extend forgiveness to someone.

If we look at Scripture, we can start with a well-known passage like the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.  Here in the Amplified Version, we find these words in verse 12.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors.

In my experience, I have more joy in my life when I release the other person from the debt I have placed on them. The past is the past, and we can’t change what happened. We can change how we go forward from this point. We are all sinners. And extending the same forgiveness to a spouse, even after his death, opens up the pathway for God’s forgiveness toward us. (Colossians 3:13)

And since RELEASE is my word for 2017, I keep my eyes open for ways to use it in every situation.

Is there a debt you are carrying that needs to be released? Let’s not wait another day to release someone from the chains of unforgiveness. It ISN’T easy – sometimes we need to meet with a trained counselor, pastor, or even an attorney. But it IS possible.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Matthew 6 :11-12 ESV

When you are praying, if you are angry with someone, forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also forgive your sins. Mark 11:25 NCV

Forgiveness isn’t something we do for someone else, especially when they aren’t around any more. Forgiveness is something we do for OURSELVES.

Father God, help us be quick to forgive. Release us from the bondage of grudges and unforgiveness. Thank You for Your example of forgiveness in our lives. Help us to be aware of Your Holy Spirit moving in our hearts to forgive someone. 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. 

Here’s another article from Kit and a guest blogger about betrayal and forgiveness. 

 

 

 

 

No Longer a Slave to Fear

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)

Fear – it’s one of the many emotions we experience in grief. Fear gripped me tightly early on. The darkness wrapped its arms around me and tried to take control, like a relentless evil that would not stop pursuing me. I felt alone and afraid of anything and everything.

The fear was so strong, it nearly paralyzed me. I could not walk into a room alone. I could not drive. I constantly felt like someone or something was after me and felt evil was following me at every turn. I was at war and wondered how I would ever live my life.

Though the feelings of fear are not as heavy, it is the feeling that continues to try and take hold of me.

Most recently I was planning to attend a concert in Texas a day after a terrorist attack took place during a concert in England, where 22 perished. The next morning, without any evidence of something happening at the concert I was going to attend, I hesitated to go. There are other days when fear’s lies tell me I may lose my son or my second husband. Fear can make us afraid and convince us we cannot step forward after the loss of our husbands. But that is what Satan does … he sees vulnerability and uses fear to attack. Don’t let him. During those moments, let your knees hit the floor and pray.

When we lean on Jesus, that all-consuming fear won’t last forever. I chose to attend the concert, and I choose to continue stepping forward in my life after loss, because I know who is in control. The Lord never intended for his children to live in fear.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

From those first few days, after the shock subsided some, I remember feeling the Holy Spirit at work. Though my life was full of chaos and devastation, I found peace and strength in knowing the Lord is sovereign, and though I did not understand, I trusted Him. But the darkness and fear didn’t go away without a fight. I’ve mentioned this before, night after night, for months, I clung to a wooden cross whispering the words, “Jesus, help me.”

And, He did. His faithfulness protected me. He has rescued me from the all-consuming fear. Today, when fear tries to pursue me and feels too strong, I lean on the One who is stronger.

Lord, We need you. Protect us from fear and anxiety and from the evil one. You are in control, and you will give us Your strength when we turn to You. Help us step forward, without fear, to share Your story of strength and faithfulness. There will not be a day when we do not miss our husbands, but we know there is still joy to be found on this earth. Help each of us to find it. In Your precious name, we pray. Amen.

______________________________________________________________________

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

 

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

Want to read another article by Jennifer? Two Years and Trusting in Him

Want to read another article about fear? Fear at 35,000 Feet

 

Love’s Eternal Origin

“We love because He first loved us.”

– 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

My love for my husband did not die with him. I bet you can say the same thing about your husband, and there is a good reason for that!

Real love, the giving kind, reflects the nature of God.

“God is Love,” and He created us in His image. (1 John 4:8, Gen. 1:27)

Love has an eternal origin. The very fact we grieve mirrors the love we carry beyond our husband’s deaths.

We miss. We regret. We long.

We grieve because LOVE acutely feels death’s forced separation. My husband was my better half. It would not be an exaggeration to say for a good while I felt amputated, incomplete, and my life a dismembered place. I experienced the conflict of hating that my beloved was gone but also not wanting him with me to continue suffering.

No wonder Jesus came because the agony of separation from a loved one is abhorrent—totally unacceptable and an offense to love. God did not want that eternal distance—like a vast ocean of darkness to get between us. He wanted us close and that’s what love wants… to be close.

Because of love’s eternal origin, death separated me from my husband but cannot separate me from my love for him. While the eternal origin of love shines in this, grieving is incredibly painful, complex, and layered. Triggers, like land mines, lay in wait for us.

While, “never again” thoughts are triggered by countless associations, very intensely at first, acknowledging and talking with God about them helped. What didn’t help was dwelling on them. If I did, it was like digging a pit and jumping in. Grieving is difficult enough without that!

Despite the pain and sorrow now, never would I have missed the love and tapestry of our lives together.

You and I know who and what we miss, but what future good do we anticipate? Future plans with my husband were banished in the instant he exhaled his last breath. However, “we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corin. 5;7 (ESV). Eyes of FAITH are crucial to move forward and faith needs to nestle into Truth.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Rms. 8:35, 37-39 (ESV)

As widows, we share an experience and understanding. Life as we knew it changed instantly. Yet, while life has altered so much, it is comforting that:

The future holds the promise of God’s love, tomorrow and always. God’s love is never-ending, never-changing, and forever true.  Faith is our secure anchor into His love and a sacred place to exhale.

Lord God, thank You that we love because You first loved us. Whether our hearts feel battered, parched, numb, or tentative, meet us there and refuel us with Your love. We are created to love You and one another. Use us still,  for the world needs nothing more than Your healing love. Thank You, that we are able to cherish love for our husbands as a true gift from You, Lord Jesus.


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.

Living Water

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’

                                                                     John 7:38 ESV

 

No one ever said it would be this hard or last this long.

A vivid memory from my younger days sometimes floods my mind. I remember a story on the national news of a woman running a marathon brilliantly but in the final stretch, her body started to give out. There on television for the entire world to see, her bowels released.  Horrified, I thought about her humiliation and her struggle. Incredibly, she managed to finish.

There are days this grief journey feels just as hard as her race.

Twenty plus years later and I am still inspired by her perseverance. It was a ninety-second news story that taught me a profound lesson about never giving up. I wonder how many others were impacted by her story. I have no idea who technically won the race that day, but sometimes winning isn’t about crossing the finish line first– it’s about enduring what seems like insurmountable obstacles.

Many, many times on this journey, I feel like I have nothing more to give. I become convinced I can’t take one more step. When I look at the years I could have left on this earth, living alone, I want to give up. I want the pain to stop. I want the emptiness and loneliness to end.

But each step is possible because I believe Jesus is who He says He is. And because I believe in Him, I will never have to do this alone. The Holy Spirit is living in me. As a vessel for the Holy Spirit there is no doubt that my life has purpose and meaning. His word tells me in John 7:38 that from my heart will flow rivers of living water.

Not stale, stagnate, murky water but living water. This reminds me that no matter how hard or how long this journey feels, no matter how much I feel like giving up or feel like my body is going to give out, something precious is still flowing through me to others.

Through all the tears, exhaustion, and heartache, it is hard to imagine we can possibly be of value to anyone else. What can we possibly give to others when we face so many challenges just in trying to accomplish our daily activities?

The living water is flowing from our hearts. We have God’s love and mercy to share with others. Our journey strengthens our faith. We become better at keeping our focus on God, living with a peace that transcends all understanding, and caring for others more deeply. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the more we seek Him, the more we are transformed into His likeness.

Day by day our faith becomes more evident to those around us. They are watching because they know this is the most difficult trial anyone can ever face. God uses our circumstances to strengthen our faith and theirs. I’ll never forget how at our first conference our praise team comprised of musicians, worship leaders and pastors, expressed how impactful it was to them to worship with widows. To know what we had lost and to see how faithfully we responded in worshipping our Lord was incredibly inspiring to them. Like the runner who inspired me so long ago with her perseverance, now we are the ones inspiring others.

Dear sisters, please be encouraged today that regardless of how you feel or what you accomplish today, the living water will continue to flow from your heart!  You are persevering and God is using you!


SherylPeppletbSheryl 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? Stay Connected

Want to read another article? It’s Okay To Be Real!

 

Share Your Story-Guest Post For Us!

You have a story. A story penned by God Himself. What is it?

You may be a newer widow or a seasoned one. Whichever the case, God might just be prompting YOU to share part of your journey with other widows through our ministry by guest blogging for us.

If you keep a journal, turn back a few pages and read your thoughts that you scribbled down that day you were frustrated at how life had turned out. Read a chapter in Psalms and share what God is teaching you.

Some topics you might write on could be widowhood after a long wonderful marriage,  your widow group at church, dealing with the finances now, something God showed you in Scripture about heaven, a funny situation, or maybe the day your husband passed away and how you got through it with scripture and God. Keep your words centered on God’s Word while letting your creativity flow! (Please keep in mind the generally accepted rules of grammar.)

We would love to help you with the process of writing, so read the guidelines here and email your article to us right away.

Pray about the words God wants YOU to share with others. All of our team of writers began by submitting guest blogs here. We felt the tug of the Holy Spirit on our lives, to write about our widow journey. We are not professional writers. We are just every day women, letting God use our words to advance His Kingdom.

Golly Gee!

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

Golly gee, can people just remember to say one standard line to a widow like, “This is hard. I’m here if you need me.”

And can we widows try to remember how hard it is to say the right thing? Maybe even coach people on what to say to a grieving widow.

With ten years since my loss, I look back with a lighter heart at the ways people fumbled, bumbled and stumbled over just what to say to a widow.

Here is my “Golly Gee, they didn’t just say that!” list of the botched approaches:

Good grief approach –
“You poor thing. Bless your heart! Let me take care of you!”

I’m not a poor thing. Give me some credit for not going over the cliff right now.

OMG approach –
“Oh my gosh! That’s so awful! I couldn’t handle that! You must be so strong!”

I gulped and thought, Guess what, sister, we don’t get a choice on what we have to handle, so excuse me for not accepting that compliment. How about God chooses you to be strong instead of me?

Lucky dog approach –
“Wow you’re so lucky. I’d far rather have the insurance payout than my husband sticking around.”

No kidding, this happened! I found myself quietly shunning the woman. I now regret that. She could have used a friend to help her see the good in her married life. She finally left her husband and has regretted her lonely walk ever since.

Lazy husband approach –
“I know exactly how you feel. My husband doesn’t lift a finger at home.”

I reacted, “at least you get to wake up next to the lazy jerk every morning!” Needless to say, the blunt retort didn’t do much to encourage this woman.

You’re young approach –
“don’t worry, you’re young. You’ll find somebody.”

I said nothing and fumed over the comment until I realized she only wanted to encourage and meant absolutely nothing ill by it, just needed a little coaching on what to say.

Get on with it approach –
“Get to work. Don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

I felt guilty for spinning my wheels in that first year and recalled the conversation every time we bumped into each other. What a mistake! She didn’t even remember it because what she really meant was she felt compassion for me.

Evading approach –
“ “

The person simply stays away. My reaction ranged from not registering their disappearance to being deeply hurt. I now know I wasted too much emotion here. Many AWOL friends either didn’t want to crowd me or had their own emotional issues about death.

Endlessly dedicated approach—
“There’s got to be something I can do. Anything. Just give me a task, now. You don’t have anything? Well, let me follow you around until I figure out a task.”

My reaction to this type of friend was to begin accommodating her need to help. It was sweet at first but soon became a burden for me as I ran out of things to give her and found her “help” to be an albatross around my neck.

Reacting offensively to an offense does nothing to repair the damage. And if you can learn to see the person through the eyes of Christ, you can have grace and respond to them gently as in Proverbs 15:1.

I now try to understand the heart behind the person’s comment and thank people for trying to help. If I’m ever in that place again, I’ll just let people know that it’s okay to just sit quietly with me or say a simple “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Because the truth is, we all can use grace with one another.

Golly gee, Lord,
I’ve learned something here—I will never judge another for trying to say the right thing because God knows I’ve missed the mark many times! I only pray that my lesson can be learned from someone going through these very conversations today. 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 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.

You might also like these posts by our team:

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Yes! I  Still Cry

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It’s Okay To Be Real!

“It’s okay to be real!”

I repeated that phrase multiple times after my husband died — to my children, to myself, and later to other widows.

There is no “right” way to grieve.

We all process differently. Some people are private. Some spill every thought and emotion for all to see.

I was a new widow with five children, all trying to process our loss. It would have been great to think that together we would follow a set path of grief from one stage to the next. That is not how it worked.

I have a couple of children who analyzed each thought as we talked. Others would dump a load of thoughts at one time but did not expect to discuss them. Some wanted to rush through grief by listening to every sad song they could get their hands on. Others did not want to hear anything sad and fell apart listening to music in general.

WHEW!

I wondered how I would cope and work through my own grief while helping my children who approached it differently. Then I remembered airplane protocol during an emergency landing — I needed to take care of me FIRST, in order to help them.

Grief rolls like a rollercoaster!

Grief can be ugly. At its most raw, it can make other people feel helpless and uncomfortable. Covering up our feelings in order to please others or keep them from concern does not help anyone.

That is why I told my children, “It’s okay to be real!”.

Pretending grief is not there because you don’t want to go through the pain is not an option either. Eventually each stage hits you, ready or not. Repeatedly directing yourself back to God’s Word for your response to grief makes it easier to navigate in times of need.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

We each had needy days when grief felt like the gravitational pull of the earth magnified solely on us, paralyzing even normal movement. For me those days were few. When they came around I was very intentional to allow my mind and body to have much needed rest. I was watchful of my children and when I saw they were having one of those days I directed their activities to stop for necessary down time.

Other days we felt more capable of navigating life, though grief was still present. On those days we resumed normal activities. We attempted to move forward the way my husband would have encouraged us to do.

The best days included laughter again over things large and small. The blessing of uncontrollable laughter that returned was the best because we all loved to laugh.

In hindsight, our differences were a blessing from God.

One or more would encourage any who were having a bad day. After the initial shock of our loss, I don’t remember many times when everyone struggled simultaneously. Even on dreaded “first” celebration days it was amazing how we helped each other. We learned flexibility and to read each other’s distress signals well.

There is nothing abnormal about grieving openly, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for some people to observe. Jesus Christ set our example at the death of his friend, Lazarus:

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35 (ESV)

Friends told us it helped them to see how our family grieved together because we made it easy for others to grieve with us. One dear friend told me she was determined to interact differently with her own children after watching me grieve openly with mine because she had never let her children see her cry about anything. Learning to grieve with others is a blessing.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (ESV)

It’s okay to be real!

 

Lord, please help us to allow other people to share in both our joy and in our grief. We do not know what added blessing may come from our willingness to be real in our relationships. Make us aware of the needs of those around us who might not realize that they can be real with us, too. Please help them to know that we care. 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.

Articles with a similar theme:  All Eyes are NOT on You   Get Over It 

When the Days Pile up

One after another. Though it’s been nearly two-and-a-half years since my husband Michael made his way to heaven, it seems the anniversaries and holidays approach faster and faster, and then pile up. The two days that are most difficult, outside of the day I lost him, are within just a few weeks of each other – Last month was our wedding anniversary. Last week was our son’s birthday.

These difficult days continue throughout the year. Sunday is Mother’s Day. June is his birthday and Father’s Day and so on.

It is obvious he isn’t here, but those days – the anniversaries, birthdays and holidays – are such in-your-face moments of his absence. But the Lord is never absent, and He is the One who can help us get up and show up, each day, after our life falls apart. He never promised life without pain, but He did promise our sufferings on this earth would be worth it when we reach eternity with Him.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18 (NIV)

Though we have hope, as Christians, and know we will see them again, we miss our husbands on this earth no matter how much time passes. The pain from their loss will always stand, but as each holiday, anniversary and difficult day comes and goes, the Lord stands stronger. He comforts, strengthens, protects, heals and guides us through this earthly life, until we one day join Him and are reunited with our husbands.

The Lord Comforts. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

The Lord Strengthens. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

The Lord Protects. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

The Lord Guides. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

The Lord Heals. “and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Lord, There are days, especially holidays and anniversaries, without our husbands that can be so difficult, dark and full of despair. Direct us to Your word, and help us to depend on You for comfort, strength, protection, guidance and healing. We know You are the only one capable of transforming our lives. We are so thankful we have you to lean into. Amen.

______________________________________________________________________

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

 

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

 

When the Shoe is On the Other Foot

My cell phone rang one afternoon. I glanced at the caller ID and saw it was one of my “widow sisters”.

Our “small talk” was cut short when she jumped right into the reason for her calling. She felt awful because of a friendship that has been wounded.

Remember all the times you have struggled with losing friendships after the loss of your husband?

“Why would she avoid me like this?”

“What did I do to make them not want to include me anymore?”

“She never even called me after my greatest loss!”

We have written several articles about these situations because the loss of friendships after the loss of our husbands is like a double-whammy. We needed these friends, and they weren’t there for us.

My friend was in tears because she realized she was ONE of those friends this time. A high- profile death occurred in her city, and she wasn’t in the closest circle of friends. The husband passed away suddenly, and my friend was advised to “lay low” for a while, but was in constant prayer for the family. The families had such an interesting relationship over about twenty years. Picture frames held glimpses of outrageously fun trips with her children. Always her prayer list included members of this family.

Now, many months after the man’s death, an email showed up in my friend’s mail.

“Where have you been?”

“Of all people, you should have been here.”

Like a knife, it stuck in her heart.

The shoe was on HER foot this time. She was ONE of those friends. My friend is so thoughtful and a true prayer-warrior. She never would be like this. But she listened to advice that now had come back to hurt them both. She remembered those friends who stepped out of the picture when her own husband died as a young father. She remembered the empty feeling of not having a close connection during the most painful time as a young solo parent. And now the pain of knowing she had done the same thing unintentionally was devastating.

As I listened, one word came to my mind.

Grace.

But he said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for YOU, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

Sometimes we have to give ourselves grace, not to mention others.

Sometimes we have to embrace our failures so Christ is able to shine through. Just like the pieces of a stained glass window are most beautiful when the sun shines through, we are most beautiful when we let Christ show through our weaknesses. The people who see this will know for sure it is God and not our own strength.

My advice to my beautiful friend was to do what she had already been led by God to do: contact her immediately and apologize. She needed to let this friend know she had never ceased praying for her and her family. Not sure of the new widow’s spiritual standing, my friend never intended to be a stumbling block to her faith journey.

Guilt over mistakes and weaknesses is not from God.

But allowing Christ to shine through our cracks and broken pieces is often when others see Him the brightest.

Have you been unintentionally aloof to another new widow, just waiting for the “right time” to say something but never seeing a chance? Have you not reached out to another friend when you should have? We all are guilty of things in friendships that hurt others. But I find it so easy to point out the people in my life who have not been the friend I needed. This call from my friend was a reminder to me to evaluate MY part in friendships.

Lord Jesus, thank You for opportunities to share the comfort You have given us through our deepest valley and darkest days. Give us chances each day to shine Your light so others can see it in our weaknesses. Friends are a gift so help us appreciate the friends we have while looking for ways we can be a better friend to others. 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. 

Here’s a great article about friendships from Erika.

Another great article from Kit.

 

Repurposed

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,

plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

I love fresh cut flowers. I love the fragrance they emit and the burst of color they add to a room. Home grown or store bought, I can always find a special arrangement to display in my favorite vase.

Last week, my favorite vase was damaged. I saw the vase wobble as my dog bumped the table it was on. Wobble. Wobble. Crash. It hit the floor before I could reach out and grab the prized possession. I was devastated. It was a self crafted gift from my daughter. Irreplaceable. It had held many bouquets of beautiful floral arrangements. Now cracked in several places, I knew it would no longer hold fresh flowers again.

I collected the pieces and made my way to the trash can. Saddened by the thought of discarding the favored vase, I began to put the pieces back together and became excited to see the vase take shape and quickly grabbed the super glue. I was able to put it back together. And if I turned it just right, you could not even see the glued edges. A big bow camouflaged the cracked neck and it was almost as good as new. And while I knew it would never be able to hold fresh flowers and water, I saw it’s new worth in holding a silk arrangement of flowers. My favorite vase had a new purpose!

Isn’t that how our journey is on this road of widowhood? I know for me, it has caused me to question every aspect of what is around the next corner. After thirty years of being “Jeff and Bonnie”, I don’t know how to be “just Bonnie” any more.

I have struggled with finding what God’s purpose is for me now? Alone, I feel inadequate and scared. I have questioned if my life still has purpose. And if so, what is that purpose. This is certainly not what “I” had planned for my life. I had invested and built a life shared with my husband and we joyfully sought areas we could serve God together. Not alone. I certainly did not plan for alone. Fear, incompetence and unqualified flooded my thoughts and caused me to ask if there was still a purpose for my life?

Satan wants us to believe not. No way.

BUT, God says, ABSOLUTELY.

Although, I can no longer serve with my husband, I can still serve. Just as my broken vase had found a new purpose, I, too can find a new purpose. Prayer and meditating on God’s words can give us the direction we need as we seek where God can use us. It is no surprise to God that I am on this path and this journey of widowhood alone, can open many doors to glorify God, in testimony to His faithfulness in our walk.

I encourage you to take time to grieve. It is a necessary step in your personal growth. This time frame is different for each of us. Just remember to allow God to permeate your soul with His love. Bask in His word and as you feel comfortable, surround yourself with other Christians. As you move toward a place of healing, He will reveal ways for you to serve. And these areas are not always big and bold. I have often discovered that I have encouraged or comforted someone just by my quiet actions and confidence in Christ.

I was eighteen months out when I discovered this ministry. I remember sitting in my bedroom in the wee areas of a winter morning, weeping as I read the writings of Christian women who were walking this same path. I had felt so alone and did not know how to express the inadequacies I was feeling. Not only did their personal stories speak to me, but, they encouraged me to seek areas where I could serve. What a blessing to hear stories from so many of the readers of how and where they are serving God.

It is through serving others that the emphasis of “I” disappears. Yes. I did not plan for alone. But, I will continue to lean on God and seek ways I can serve, encourage and help others. I am praying for each of you as you move forward. I pray God heals, comforts and leads you to the abundant life He still has in place for each of us.

Father, please allow our hearts to come to a place of healing. May each lady reading this discover a new purpose in her walk to serve You. I pray they can see the beauty in the brokenness. Amen


Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

To book a speaker email us at admin@anewseason.net

For more articles by Bonnie, click here

Read more about finding God’s purpose for you by Teri and Sheryl.