This Isn’t What I Planned

WE HAD PLANS.

My husband Michael and I were going to have at least two children and possibly adopt a third. We were going to continue traveling the world, start a nonprofit, raise our children together, become grandparents, grow old and grey together. We were just 31 and had our entire lives ahead of us.

But what happens when our plans don’t align with the Lord’s plans or what He allows for our lives?

I have always known that being a Christian does not make me immune to the troubles of this world, but I never imagined that suicide would impact my life. I never imagined becoming a widow and sole parent at 31. It just wasn’t part of my plan.

But it happened.

And when it did, I begged and pleaded with God for another way for His will to be done until I surrendered to His will and not mine.

It can be difficult to understand when our hopes and dreams for this life don’t go along with what actually happens, bringing doubt and questions. Even my three-and-a-half-year-old son is questioning how his father is not part of the plan here on earth.

A few days ago we went by the home we shared to pick up mail – I sold the house last year before I remarried in September (that wasn’t a part of the plan either, but I am so thankful God led my husband Keith and me to each other. He is a miracle in my life!)

As we drove away my eyes began to fill with tears, and anxiety attempted to creep its way back in. My son noticed and asked, “Mommy, do you miss our house? Do you miss daddy? Why did daddy have to go to heaven before we moved? It was too soon.”

Those words, from my son, missing his daddy, are heartbreaking and a pain we will live with for a lifetime. But I’m going to share with you exactly what I shared with him.

“I do miss him very much. When we love someone and they are not here, it makes us sad. And, I don’t know the answer, buddy. When our lives don’t go as we plan and don’t look the way we always envisioned, all we can do is trust in the Lord and trust in His bigger purpose that we may not see. We have to be open to letting Him work in our lives,” I said. “I don’t understand why God allowed daddy to go to heaven so soon. I see how daddy’s life and our experience are impacting others for good, but I don’t really know the reason. We aren’t always called to understand but to trust in the Lord,” I tried to explain.

God says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

This was the verse written on a notecard that I found in my husband Michael’s truck. Little did I know, that notecard and this verse would help sustain me through my deepest side of grief.

I shared my heart and this verse with my son. Though I know he is so very young, I pray these words and thoughts build a foundation for his faith and relationship with Jesus Christ as He grows and experiences his own grief journey.

Leaning on the Lord and not on my own understanding is how I am walking forward in this life and not just surviving but also finding joy again.

There is peace that cannot be explained when you know there is a God who sent His SON for each of us – that the Father is in control – and every single decision we make, though there is free will, doesn’t change the final outcome that He has planned.

Lord, I pray that even when we cannot understand the horrific things of this life, that you will bring us peace. Help us to walk forward with trust and without doubt, knowing you have a plan, you are with us, and you are in control. 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.

How Long, Lord?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

A letter to God after years of single motherhood.

It’s been years, Lord.

My soul is tired.  

My arms and legs are tired.

My heart still yearns for what I lost.

I’m supposed to trust you, Lord.

And it’s not like I’ve never trusted You. When my kids were small, and I raised them alone, You took my hand, and led me through every turn.

But it’s been nine years of raising these children without Tom, Lord.

I try not to count, and when I pick up the count again, it means I’m tired, and  I fail to trust and I fail to understand.

I fail to understand why You guided me away from marrying for all these years when I so long for companionship.

I fail to understand why no simple financial solution has made up for the sacrifices I made to stay home and homeschool my children after Tom passed away.

I can thank You for my support network, the gifts and abilities You gave me, and the opportunities I’ve had to meet potential suitors.

But really, none of that fixes the hole that keeps reopening every time I think “nine years–how much longer, Lord?” 

And when that hole reopens, it’s like I’ve stepped out into the cold on purpose. And I just stand there, shivering with my lonely thoughts and my back towards You. 

But You’re still there.  Reaching out to me and handing me a coat.

And at times, I have to be honest, Lord, I simply won’t take it. I kid myself that I’d rather freeze than take help from You. 

I know what that’s about.

I’ve trusted you before, and You never fail me. It’s just that every time I choose to trust You, it means giving something up–actually giving everything up! Trusting You means letting all else go.

I remember a time four years ago when I almost stepped away from You.  The world told me I needed a husband. They told me You would bring me one. I thought I found one. The courtship was wonderful. I thought You had found a prince for me.

Until the engagement began, and suddenly I felt a frost come in. The one that was sweet and kind while we dated grew chilling as my children and I were presented with his stringent terms of a marriage in a joyless home.

You reached out with Your coat and told me to come on in. But trust You?  Give up my fiancé? The one that would provide a home and a new identity–away from widowhood? 

I was confused and scared–what would this unbelieving man do to the hearts and faith of my boys who were so focused on You?  I shivered at the thought. Shivered, but still stood there in the cold, considering a godless future over what You had to offer.

Why would I even consider it? Thank you, Father, for allowing that situation to get colder and bleaker, until I finally reached for whatever You had to offer!

I stepped out of the cold and into Your arms.

And it’s still hard. But it’s real. You are real.

And when I’m tired and my heart hurts because I’m still without a husband and my finances are strained, I think with gratitude that it was worth it because I chose to follow You and raise my children in You and serve the widows for You instead of following a wealthy man and serving myself.

But still I’m cold, meaning I’ve taken my focus off You again. 

Let’s be gut honest–I don’t always trust You, God.  Your Word says to, but there are times I grow so weary I forget to open Your Word. I’ll instead get caught up in reading Facebook or emails when I know where Your Truth is. It’s like I’m choosing to go back out in the cold.

What’s wrong with me? I know Your Word says to trust You, but do I reach for it? Like this morning as I write this, I’m spinning in circles trying to figure my own way out of my pain while Your Word  just sits there on the shelf.

And so I will end this prayer with this: I will stop spinning and grab hold of Your Word and trust.

It’s not like I feel like trusting You, but it isn’t always about me, is it, God?

Amen.

And as I ended this prayer, I opened His Word to Proverbs 3:5.Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

A new understanding is exactly what I need, I thought, just before the phone rang.

It was my grown stepdaughter. I told her about the chill in my heart. About my questions. Could I trust God? Why this long without a husband?

“Don’t you see?” She began, her words draping over my shoulder like God’s warm coat, bringing me in from the cold. “If you had married that wealthy, difficult man, you would never have gotten that ministry going. Those four boys would never be the kind hearts that they are today.  You would never have had the time or the heart to reunite my brother and me with our four little brothers, and you may never have had the time to show me how to walk with God. I love you.”

I love  you too, God.  Would you please put a coat on my widow sisters as well? Amen.

 


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

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

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

You might also like these posts by our team:

Don’t Shop Hungry

9 Weeks; 3 Years, Forever

Solitude vs Loneliness

 

 

A Legacy of Life Well Lived

Legacy is a loaded word for me now.  Becoming a widow at 35 years old made me acutely aware of the increased need to leave a legacy for my kids, while fiercely protecting and even nurturing my late husband’s legacy.  

In the beginning it was hard.  My husband died by suicide in a very public manner. The fear and shame of that fact drove me for awhile.  I feared how my very young children would ever live full lives with one parent missing. I was afraid of how damaging this would be for them as they learned the details and reality of their father’s death. I also spent countless hours trying to figure out how I could destroy the statistics they now faced in their own liveswith the hereditary factors of mental illnessI thought I needed to “prove” or “do” something, to create a “worthy” legacy to eliminate the stigma of suicide from all of us.

In the six plus years on this journey, God has healed me in mighty ways.  He’s taught me how to embrace the life He has ordained for me, and claim full victory in Christ over my husband’s suicidal death.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)

I am not defined by what’s happened to us.  My kids are not destined to become suicide victims, or prone to struggles themselves. 

My God is bigger!

My kids are His, and He has ordained their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

I can fully TRUST Him with their lives and with mine.  (Psalm 91:1-2)

I am a daughter of the KING and not bound by any stigma(2 Corinthians 6:18)

I have come to realize the legacy is in our entire story. That story still unfolds today.  It’s in our children and their limitless, God-designed futures.  Scott’s legacy is in his eternal reward he is receiving right now in Heaven. 

As a widow I get the unique privilege of not only seeing and influencing my husband’s legacy through sharing our story and raising our kids, but I am experiencing a greater sense of the importance in making sure I leave a positive, faith-filled, legacy too

My desire and prayer is to influence my children and anyone I can for the Kingdom.  

want to glorify God even in the midst of so much tough stuff; praying that God will continue to use me and my kids for His greater purposes, and my kids will choose to walk in full victory in Him throughout their lives.  

At the end, I hope the biggest part of my legacy will be I reflected Christ and faithfully followed Him all the days of my life. 


Here are some practical tips for living a legacy now that will impact the Kingdom for eternity:

• Share your story and your faith with everyone you can.
• Lead your home and your kids well rooted in the Lord and His Word. (Deuteronomy 6)
• Tell your kids about their daddies. Remember him well for them.
• Honor God, even in the mire of grief.
• Remind yourself and point your kids to God‘s redemptive plan. (Revelation 21:5)
• Leave fingerprints on this world by actively participating in your church and by making missions a mission.
• Comfort others with the same comfort you’ve been given. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
• Grow your faith through personal, small group, and large group studies.
• Find intentional ways to groyour kids faith.
• Surround your kids with those who’ll point them to Jesus.
• Pray for your kids, for their salvation, for their futuresand for their spouses.
• Pray for your future and seek His will for you now.
• Live life! (Ecclesiastes 9:1-12)
• Trust God in every single way, walking in the shelter of His love, grace, and provision every day. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other posts on leaving a legacy: New Traditions and Something old, something new

He is Enough

Please join us today as we share a post from a dear sister, Julie Reed.


 

Never Enough  By Julie Reed

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:19

I’ve been struggling for a few days trying to decide what to write about this week and then it hit me square in the face.  I’ve been butting heads with my fourteen year old son all week long.  We ended up having a “ramming” session as I like to refer to it, with both of us locking “horns” refusing to give in and be defeated.

Anger, attitudes and words flew through the air from both us like sharp, double-edged daggers.  I’m sure that you may have experienced one of those moments when you wish what poured out of your mouth could be pushed right back in.  I call them the toothpaste tube moments.  Just like squeezed out toothpaste….once it’s out there…you can’t put it back in, no matter how hard you try.

Our disagreement really wasn’t one worth the raised voices and harsh words, but as I slammed the door and stated, “It’s just never enough.  I can never do enough for you, can I?” the words pierced my heart with a fire and pain that was real and I know they punctured my son’s heart too.

I went to my bedroom and burst out in tears.  I felt defeated.  I felt like the worst mom in the whole world.  I felt useless that I couldn’t be all that my son wanted or needed me to be.  I felt mad that I wasn’t living up to the expectations that my son wanted me to be or what I had built up in my mind that he wanted from me.  I felt horrible for not controlling my anger and for lashing out in my own sadness and grief.

So, I sat there crying on the bed.  Repeating the words over and over again in my head.  “Never enough, never enough.”  When is it ever going to be enough?  When will I be enough?  When will he have enough?  How do we get to the point when it’s all enough?  I struggle with those questions more than I should.  In a world where people are always racing for more, wanting more, needing more, its difficult at least to say “I have enough” and truly mean it.

I grabbed my Bible and asked God to give me a verse, show me something that would tell me I’d have “enough” or I’d be “enough”.  I’m not one to necessarily believe that you just pop your Bible open, drag your finger along, and voila, there’s the verse for me, but that’s what I did and this is what I found.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:18-20.  Ah, sweet peace came over my heart and mind.  God will meet all my needs.  God will meet all my son’s needs.  God will meet our family’s needs—all according to His riches.  It may not be what we think or feel we need in the moment, but He meets our needs.

There is no way that I’ll ever be enough in my own strength.  I can’t be both a mother and a father to my son, no matter how hard I try.  I can’t be the one to hold his hand through every situation that comes his way.  I can’t be the one that he leans on for all of his emotional struggles and pain.  But God can.

God will be enough.  God will meet his needs.  God will be the “Father” that he needs and misses.  God will be the healer of his heart and mind.  God will be enough for all his situations, trials and triumphs.    God will meet his needs with riches that far outweigh any “riches” I can give him.  When I look back through the past 22 months of our time since daddy has gone to glory, I can honestly say that God has been enough.  He’s provided for us in ways I never could have imagined.  He’s brought our small family together closer than ever.  He has renewed my faith in Him and deepened His relationship with my children.  He’s met all of our needs and more so.

I can’t imagine ever getting enough of God though.  Every day we find new ways to need Him more.

While I still struggle with trying to be the all-in-all to everybody and for everybody, it’s so comforting to know that my Heavenly Father will meet all of our needs.  I don’t have to try and be the super mom or the super friend.  Honestly, the more I try, the less of Him people see in me.  Now, this isn’t something that I don’t already “know”…but sometimes we just need to be reminded in our hearts that yes, I’ll never be enough, but God is.

I quietly went to my son’s room and gently knocked on the door.  He graciously let me in and I sat on the bed next to him.

“I’m sorry about all that.  I’m sorry for the way I spoke to you and acted.  I guess we’re both missing dad a lot this week with the holiday and all.  That’s no excuse.  Can I show you something I just found in the Bible?”

“I’m sorry too Mom.  Sure, what did you find?” was his polite reply.

I slowly read him the verse.  He smiled at me.

“Guess, God knew I’d need you, huh, Mom?”

“Guess He knew I’d need you too, son.”  I tearfully replied.

“Thanks for being someone I need.” he sweetly replied.

“We need each other and God.  Together it will be enough.” I answered. Then was the huge bear hug that we both desperately needed. J

Here’s to hoping this week that God will be “enough” for whatever situation, moment, memory or trial that comes your way.  I’m grateful this week that He is meeting my needs with riches full of His glory, hope and love.

We are praying that He’ll be enough for you too!


For more posts like this: Enough and God Box

To learn more about us visit us at www.awidowsmight.org

Get Over It

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

Psalm 25:4

“Get over it!”

Yep that’s me in one of my finer parenting moments.

My son was upset about something that in the moment mattered to him, but to me it was not important.  So out came those lovely words. My son needed love and empathy, but all I gave him were harsh words with no thought for how much they might hurt him.

As a widow of over six years, I’m sure there are those who think I should “get over it” too. Because they see me in a ministry for widows, or hear me boldly claim that I will always love and miss Scott, or that he’s still a big part of who we are, they may believe I’m stuck or living in an unhealthy way.

I’ve never directly been told to get over it.  But, I’ve been sent veiled messages and received comments that certainly intended to say those words.  Things like “if you just try harder to meet someone”, or “it’s uncomfortable and hard to see you and the kids or have you say his name so much.”   Then there’s my favorite, “He’s in such a better place and that must make you happy now.”

Empathy isn’t easy!   It’s hard to go into those deep uncomfortable places with someone.  I too, have stood in judgement and sent veiled messages to others I thought were in a place they shouldn’t be.

Even as a widow, I sometimes judge other widows.

In my first few years, I looked at those years ahead of me and thought, “I won’t be like them at that stage.” Because I had put God in a box and predetermined how I thought this journey should go. I thought grief and loss was a skin I would shed, or a place I would move away from. I thought that at some point God would just “magically” make it all go away.

The truth is, grief and loss go with us. They become a part of who we are until we move onto heaven.

And each of us have a unique journey.  A big part of who we were now resides in heaven.  I may not be in love with my husband or married to him anymore.  But I’ll always love him.  He’ll always be a part of who I am.  My relationship with him and our marriage together has 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 no, I won’t ever get over this.  I won’t be driven by what others think.  I’ll walk my journey.  I’ll keep my eyes on Christ.  But, I’ll remember Scott, and honor him and my Savior every single day. I’ll heal. I will change and grow. I will trust God. But, Scott will always be with us even as we choose to live life to the fullest.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles related to this: Will We Be Married in Heaven?,  Moving Forward, & Moving Toward or Away

Blended and Bonded

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) 

I often write about raising my four boys without their father.

Sometimes their episodes of grief shake me to the core, and I wonder how I’ll parent them through it, only to find I don’t need to know how—God walks me through the “how” every time.

Sometimes I want to hug every young widowed mother struggling to see hope in her children’s lives, and remind her of the power in letting God set her vision for her children’s future.

I write a lot about my boys because they are my purpose for now. I’m it for them—no other parent except their Heavenly Father. It’s up to me and Him to show them who their real Father is—God.

Occasionally I’ll write about my two children from Tom’s first marriage. Raising them in our home was one of the biggest honors in my life.

What a different grief journey it has been as their stepmother. These two live in other states, and emotional separations that often come with blended families add to our spotty connections.

As a grieving, healing mother of a passel of boys, I chose to hone in on the ones still there in my home while waiting for my older stepson and stepdaughter to heal over unresolved loyalties that often happen with children who endure their parents’ divorce.

This week, as I write, that healing is happening.

Tom’s six children reunited for the first time since they were small.

My older daughter (I recently decided to drop the step reference—after all, as children who grew up in my home, they are considered whole parts, not just step parts, of our family) asked me to bring us all together. This was a huge breakthrough for her, as she had been on an emotional roller coaster of love for me and anger over her losses.

You are not going to believe how that came about. Had you spoken with me years ago you would have found me wondering if we could ever restore any connection between our once-blended family. We didn’t have to.  God did it.  Unable to find answers for her anger and pain, she finally turned to a local church and began her walk with Christ.

And one place He led her was to bring back the family of her youth.

Now today we gather in a cute cabin on the teeny little resort island of Put-in-Bay in the middle of Lake Erie.

Can you imagine the joy this brings me? To see Tom’s six kids reunited?  God redeems everything, if you let Him.

I watch them frolic—like Tom did.  They are so alike! My grown son from Tom’s first marriage looks exactly like Tom, and very much like my youngest.  He and my college-aged son share their father’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for software development.  They spent an evening collaborating on ideas for their next projects.

We gathered at an island resort restaurant, watching their Cleveland team in the playoffs—my daughter laughing with my middle two sons.  She has their same lips—the full round lips of their father.  She also has their free spirit—that relaxed nature and quick wit.

With God’s love, blended families can keep blending, even when unexpected loss had once separated.  Healing does happen.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 not to allow the grudges between brothers go unresolved while you go offer gifts at His alter. Sometimes you go about life handling just what’s on your plate because it’s all you can do.  For years, I lived out my purpose in raising my four boys obediently, knowing that there were two more children who needed to be reconciled to these brothers.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing our family full circle, and together.  May You bring that joy and connection to the young widowed mother reading this and to her children, whether just her own or from blended situations.  And may your love grow in my own six children and spread to my older children’s mother as she and her two children draw closer to each other and to You.  Amen.


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

If you are interested in having 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:

Child Whisperer

Triggers (Part Two)

He Calls Me His Own (an article about step-parenting and grief)

Ruth Revisited

Recently I had a conversation with a close friend about my finances. We were discussing how I am TRYING to show my family how we are TRYING to live within our means. What do we do when my son is on the track team and needs a new pair of good running shoes? Or when the high school adds a policy of charging for being a part of the marching band? When there is still part of the month left at the end of our money? Do my children see me running to God for direction, running to use the credit cards, or calling a friend to ask for financial help?

This is a widow’s website; so naturally, we have written about Ruth. She lost her young love and found another love in Boaz. Eventually, down her line of offspring King David came and then, Jesus the Messiah. It is a great story, but I sometimes forget about her life BEFORE Boaz. I can get caught up in the romance and intrigue of finding new love and forget some of the details of her early life as a widow. And that’s when I noticed a verse for the first time.

Ruth 2:12 ESV… the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!

People noticed that Ruth had found her security and worth under the wings of the Lord of Hosts, God Almighty. This pagan widow, caring for her bitter mother-in-law, living off the good graces of the crop owners nearby, had found the true God of Israel to be her strength.

Can others see that in me?

For the first time, this verse in Ruth jumped out at me. Especially in light of my conversation about my finances. What does it mean to “take refuge” under God’s wings? Was Ruth from a wealthy family? Was begging in the fields totally new to her? Did she have to change what she was wearing-from lovely rich cloth to rough dirty cloth? Naomi may have had wealthy family members, and maybe she wasn’t much help in instructing her daughter-in-law in the skills of clearing a field.  What a testimony to God’s love, it could have been to the pagan Ruth, to have Naomi’s family members take them in and love on them. What if they had been feeding and caring for them, in the name of Jehovah? But that wasn’t God’s plan. Did Ruth discuss with Naomi any other way to provide for them? Did they ever think they were “above” this kind of work?

“Taking refuge” includes humility. We definitely see that in the way Ruth handled it all.

Ruth never demanded kindness from the Israelites. Never. She gleaned the fields “in hope” that someone would show her kindness. Their kindness was not a “debt” she felt entitled to. She humbly offered her service to Naomi.

Ruth was industrious – we have no record of her offering to go to the relatives for hand-outs. She got busy in the fields. “Taking refuge” also includes getting after the work God provides at the time, not concerned about the work that might come somewhere in the future, while sitting around doing nothing.

Ruth didn’t ask Naomi to help glean. These were Naomi’s people.Perhaps she should have been the one gleaning, but Ruth knew respect and, in respect, she “took refuge” by being respectful of the people in her life.

Ruth ventured out into the unknown, while God directed her steps. Sometimes “taking refuge” means taking a new direction.

So today I ask myself – is it evident to those around me that I have taken refuge under the shelter of God?

Is it evident to all around me that I take refuge NOT in myself, NOT in some trust fund, NOT in a new spouse, NOT in pride, NOT in my perfect budget?

My shelter is in God alone:

  • Humbly doing what God has put before me
  • Never demanding kindness from others
  • Being industrious and busy with the work He provides
  • Being respectful
  • Taking a new direction perhaps

Lord Jesus, Almighty God, thank You for being my shelter. Help me accept the kindness of others without expecting kindness or feeling entitled to anyone’s generosity. I declare today that I take refuge in You alone. I pray that others can see this in my life. Amen


 

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Elizabeth is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might. She lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars! Oh, and 1 hermit crab that continues to hold onto life some how. Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning that 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.”

 

If you are interested in having our team speak at your next event, contact us at admin@anewseason.net

Would you like to read more articles by Elizabeth? Click here!

Want to read more on Ruth? I am Mara by Sherry  & The Widow Ruth by Kit

 

Recovering in the Wake of Mother’s Day

My sweet sisters, let’s just be honest for a moment. I want to be real with you. We already know we’ll never be fully healed, right? We are all still at some point in the process of recovery, aren’t we? Whether you’ve just lost your love, you’re aching two years out or you’re a remarried widow like me, we’re always still recovering.

Because the earth doesn’t quake with loss of our loves and we just get over it. The crevices always exist, the deep cracks create caverns in our hearts and wounds easily seep when something subtly and unexpectedly pricks them. It’s what we do with our wounds in the lifelong process of recovery that makes us or breaks us.

You see, we have a choice, don’t we? We can let the loss’s quaking continue to rock our worlds and keep us on our knees or we can slowly stand allowing the shaking to create tremors for Christ. I know so many of you aren’t ready to stand on the unsteady ground beneath you. But simply lift your sights to the horizon and see the sun in the distance…see the eternally shining Son radiating His soul-saving rays of recovery towards you. One by one, they will reach you and suddenly you’ll see how the tremors of your heart can be used for Him.

For me, the first area of my life I consciously chose to let Christ reveal Himself as an extension of my heart’s aching was in my motherhood.  I recall the sense of desperation alongside a deep desire to let my loss put Biblical purpose into my parenting.  And here’s an utterly honest piece of my heart: It was harder than hard to start seeing how parenting alone might be able to bless my babies. But, eventually the process of recovery started in my mama’s heart. Here’s how it happened:

Prayer: Leaning on the Lord for the energy, time and specific purpose as a new little family of three. I wanted a strategy that centered around my Savior so I had to let Him lead.

Acceptance: Knowing this is exactly the place I’m supposed to be because God is right here with me.

Trust: My Father will equip me with what my children need from me and He will fill in all the earthly gaps. He knows their needs better than I!

Execution: Putting one foot in front of the other, I began using the depth of my emotions to drive my mothering. Sometimes I had to dig deep but God always provided me with direction and I slowly saw how, at that particular time in my life, He was giving my girls what they needed through me, a forever recovering single mother.

That’s how my loss helped me bless my babies! It drove me to seek Him and ONLY Him for everything I needed. It clearly refined my vision so I could see how the single most significant mission as a mother was to direct my girls to God. Perhaps without the quaking of loss, my vision would be clouded and confused by the world’s views. I’ll never know for sure. But I can say for certain, I let Him direct me as a wounded widow and single mother. And I still keep my sights set firmly on Him as I parent each new stage of my children’s lives.

So yeah, I want to be real with you today. After another Mother’s Day, I still feel the tremors of loss lingering in my heart. And it hurts. I’ll always be recovering, even and especially as a remarried widow now reconciling parenthood with a much bigger, blended family. But as I recover in the wake of Mother’s Day, this mom’s heart is fully His.

To all of you ladies who do this parenting thing alone, I KNOW exactly where you are recovering in the wake of Mother’s Day, alone and aching to feel just a little honored as a mom by my man. My memory is vivid and deep and your journey is real in my heart.

No matter where you are, savor the sweetness God’s grace because it takes the best kind of care of you. And if you didn’t yesterday, linger a little longer with your coffee, soak up a good book or simply sink into Scripture because that’s where the world’s tasks stop and His work starts in your hearts. Place your mothering purpose in His hands.

Here are a couple pieces I want to share with you. They came from my heart and fell from my fingers onto the pages of Happily Whole as I worked through my mission as a single mother.

Click here to read: The Mission of Motherhood

Click here to read:  Unfortunately Flawed or Wonderfully Made?

Live Well and Be Blessed,

Katie

Solo Mom

“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 4:16

I had lunch with a friend awhile back. She told me she was in awe of me.  Not because I’m really awesome, which I usually am until I get out of bed in the morning. But, because I parent three kids all on my own.  Let me just share she’s a new mom, so she’s in that phase of being totally sleep deprived and overwhelmed. I call it “first baby syndrome”!  So to see me do it with three kids, right now to her I look pretty awesome.

Although she’s never there in the morning when we have exactly two minutes before we need to leave for school.  There’s a whole level of crazy she doesn’t see!

The life my kids and I lead is an intimate dance usually meant just for us.

Yet, from the outside in the glimpses she and others might get, we look pretty “good”.  After lunch I sat considering our conversation and her impressions of me, realizing that I am being watched by many; as a woman, as a widow, as a Christian, and particularly as a mom. That fact was heavy!

Because-

I fail every day.  I mess up and make mistakes.  I yell.  I lose my patience.  I say things I shouldn’t. I wonder sometimes if my kids’ poor behavior or attitudes are totally due to my lack luster parenting.

As a solo mom, I have made many bad decisions. And just the other day my teenage daughter reminded me in a “most helpful” way, I don’t follow through with my threats sometimes.

I’m pretty mediocre at best.

I am certainly no one to be watched.

Honestly, solo parenting is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done!

I never have a day off. Every decision is on me. Every time I need to discipline it’s just me.  I can’t “tag” out and pass them off to anyone.  Ever.

I have a village of people who help me.  And I’m blessed by that group in so many ways.  But, the bottom line is, I’m it!  I don’t get any days off.  I can’t call on my hubby to deal with a behavior issue for me.  I can’t talk out the decisions or issues I have with each of them with the guy who got them as well as I do.  When there’s an issue.  It’s just me!

And that’s just the character molding…

There’s also the schedule managing, homework completing, lunch making, clothing washing, appointment managing, taxiing, sport watching, feeding, project completing, and meet every other need I do daily.

So what’s my secret?  What’s the big epiphany to this calling as a widow?  Why does my friend admire me?  Well.  You ready?

I’m a terrible sinful person.  My kids are terrible sinful people. It’s really not us.  It’s all by the blood of Christ.

It’s the Him in us that others see.

We aren’t perfect, yet HE is.

We keep it real.  We are authentic.  We show people it’s okay to be a messy unorthodox family.  It’s okay to have grief as a family member.  It’s okay to not be totally okay.  And yes, I am even showing others, solo parenting is possible by God’s amazing grace, provision, and mercy.

I need daily love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.  And I receive that and so much more when I approach His throne and lay it all before Him.

For me, I know for certain, right now there’s no greater time than this, and no greater need than the needs of a widow trying to solo parent her kids.

Father, thank You for the grace You give me as a solo mom.  Thank You that You’re the constant I can rely on when I especially fail as a solo mom.  Your mercy and grace covers me every day, and for that I am so grateful. Lord, I lift up other solo moms to You now.  Come alongside them.  And be all they need right now.  Convict them to go before Your throne and find Your grace and mercy to be exactly what they need. In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


2013-11-09 03.40.34-4Erika Graham is Director of Operations, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her.

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

Other articles by this author click here.

Other articles on Solo Momming: A Mom’s Grace-filled Saga & Mission: Parenting!

A Daughter’s Pain

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting

on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, ~Psalm 103:17

 

{By far, the HARDEST part of losing my husband has been walking beside my children as they navigate their own grief.  This article is a personal excerpt out of a prayer journal I keep for my daughter.  My son has a similar entry in his.}

 

A nine year old girl should never have to sit across the breakfast table from her hero and hear he is dying.

 

She shouldn’t have to experience the shock of hearing months later that the doctors had it wrong and her Daddy’s rare form of leukemia wouldn’t take him, but would change the lives of her family members forever.  Only to hear at the age of eleven that he is battling another new cancer.

 

A fifth grade girl should not spend her Spring Break moving her parents into an apartment 425 miles away their from home, then returning home with her sixth grade brother to be cared for by extended family.

 

She shouldn’t have to endure the next two years separated from her parents more than she is with them due to out of state cancer treatments and lengthy hospital stays.

 

She never should have her eyes see the horrors of a strong man shrinking away in a cancer riddled body.

 

She shouldn’t have to hold this man’s hand as he lay in a coma experiencing a series of strokes and seizures.

 

She shouldn’t have to sweetly “shush” his agonizing moans.

 

No thirteen year old daughter should ever have to stand over the hospice bed of the greatest love of her young life while he takes his final breath.

 

She should not have to choose a dress to wear for her father’s funeral.

 

And no fourteen year old young lady should have to spread her Daddy’s ashes at their favorite annual vacation spot.

macie and tim2

 

Today, as deeply as my heart is shattered and breaking for my own loss as well as the tremendous loss my children are experiencing, I stand in awe of my daughter.

 

She is not like other fifteen year old girls.  She has witnessed too much heartache and unspeakable sorrow.  She has matured beyond childhood in many ways, and yet is still just a girl who deeply loves and desperately needs her Dad.

 

As she ventures forward in this life, learning, growing, navigating complex relationships; my prayer is…

 

*that her loss both strengthens and softens her.

*that the horrors her eyes have witnessed somehow bring a deeper acceptance of and compassion for others.

*that the love affair between her Daddy and me built enough memories in her young mind for her to know what a strong marriage centered on the foundation of Christ is like.  Not that we were perfect, but that even through our imperfections, God made us perfect for each other.  I pray she finds the one who God is already molding to be hers and that she is sensitive to the work He is doing to prepare her for him.

*that she continues to lean hard into God.  Praying earnestly and listening intently as He guides her through the final years of adolescence into adulthood.

 

Her healing process will continue until she draws her own final breath.  She has many firsts without her Dad yet to experience, many tears yet to cry, and many frustrations yet to overcome.

She lost too much far too soon.  She has walked a difficult path for years and is finally emerging into the light of living life fully again.  In many ways, she reminds me of a butterfly.  She has had to spend a great deal of time immersed in darkness, and it has made her who she is.  The layers of a happy, loving childhood; intense trauma and sorrow; fierce love and loyalty, they intricately interlace to form beautiful wings that will help her fly.

And fly, she will.  She loves deeper.  She dreams bolder.  She sees the value and goodness in a person quickly.  There is a strength that radiates from her soul that can only come from Christ.

I am honored to be her Momma and proud to watch God working in her life.

Father God, You promise to be a Father to orphans.  Your steadfast love and righteousness are gifts for generations of those who fear You.  I lift the children of each widow who reads this to Your throne right now.  Lord, guide them in your ways, comfort them as only You can, and transform their pain into something beautiful that brings glory to You.  Amen. 

 

Lori meet usLori 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:Lori Reynolds Streller

See more A Widow’s Might Articles on Parenting:

Parenting Thru Grief

Mission: Parenting