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.

God Writes My Story

“So how did your husband die?”

This question can be a real conversation stopper for some widows.

I have been learning this lesson for the past five years. The final moments of one chapter of my story and the beginning of the next have changed my perspective dramatically. Only God really knows our whole story, and sometimes it is complicated.

“I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” Isaiah 46:9b-10a (ESV)

My husband’s death certificate states cause of death as suicide, although the circumstances surrounding his death were so different than what people expected to hear. I answered honestly when people asked what happened, so it hurt when false assumptions were shared about how and why he died. It did not change the truth, but it hurt because some did not seek the truth before they spoke to others.

They did not know that:

  • due to insomnia he was on a prescription sleep medication that began to alter his personality for thirteen days before he died. Our family witnessed his strange behavior but we all, including him, linked it to his lack of sleep.
  • he called me for help that April morning, panicked and confused in his hotel room when he realized he had wounded himself in his drug-induced haze.
  • we had eleven precious minutes on the phone to say “I love you”: I promised to get help to him as quickly as I could and he, struggling to breathe,  whispered repeatedly how much he loved me
  • as I begged him to hold on, I could hear the paramedics yelling as they broke in the hotel room door. They closed his phone as he said the last “I love you” I would ever hear from him, then they worked unsuccessfully to save his life. At that moment, God wrote the final word in my husband’s story.

As I received the news of his death rather than expected news about his hospital transport, God began the new “Widow” chapter of my life by giving me “the peace that surpasses all understanding”. Although there were times when I had to push back against fear of the unknown, there was never a time when I doubted that God was still writing my own story. He taught me to rejoice in suffering, and He taught me to trust Him with the future.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

There are still things people do not know about my husband’s story. None of these things change who he was, the life he lived, or how he impacted my life for good. He was a sinner saved by grace just as I am, and I will see him again one day.

This experience changed me and showed me my own limited view of life –now I try not to assume anything about a person’s story; each one is unique. Only God knows how any life plays out from beginning to end. He always knows what is for our good and for His glory, even if we cannot see it at the time. In our family we have heard some of the good that has come from my husband’s death. Many people have said their faith was strengthened and at least one person chose not to end her own life because of our testimony; my husband’s death was not in vain. 

Hebrews 12:2 tells us to look to Jesus because He is the author and finisher of our faith. I know He can be trusted to write the end of my story as well.

Father, please help us to give grace to others who don’t seem to understand the daily struggles we experience, and help us not to make assumptions because we do not know what others are going through. Please give us daily peace and faith to trust that You alone are the Author and Finisher of our faith and to trust You to write our whole story. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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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perspective cures envy

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The Other Side of the Sob

Today we welcome our sister and former team writer Ami Wickiser to our blog. At the end of Ami’s post is a link for more information if you would like to guest blog for us.


​I watched her greet person after person, carried along by evident grace. She wanted it to be a celebration instead of a funeral. And indeed, the atmosphere buzzed with the hum of conversation while folks enjoyed dinner and dessert. Pictures of a life well-lived filled the space.

From across the room her eye caught mine. And in the span of a heart beat, she was in my arms collapsing under the weight of her sobs. Without words, we stood that way for a long time. I held her tightly and cried with her.

“I know I can let it all out with you.”

Yes, dear one. It’s ok to weep and grieve even amid a celebration of life.

Three years earlier, the same lady was at the hospital when my life shattered, and I collapsed into her arms. We had been alone in the emergency room, Jon and I. But he went into cardiac arrest, and I needed someone to come. Looking down at my phone, there was her contact information. Mechanically, I touched the screen, not completely aware of who I was calling.

She was there when I finally gave a doctor permission to stop trying to save my husband’s life.It was in her arms that I silently prayed, “Yes Lord, He’s yours. I give him back to you.”

Two lives intertwined through the deepest of moments.

But now I was on the other side of the sob.

I can’t say I was fully prepared to dive down deep with her, or that her weeping didn’t recreate a dozen vivid images in my mind.And I can’t say I expected she would let her composure crack and the waves overtake her. But I’m glad she did. For there was grace for her to greet person after person.

And there was grace to weep.

I’m thankful she felt totally safe. And I’m thankful I could share the weeping with her.

On the other side of the sob I realize a few things:

  • I know suffering, that I may be able to suffer with others.
  • I know redemption in the midst and on the other side of the storm.
  • I have been deeply comforted.
  • Praise God for beauty out of ashes.
  • His plans and purposes are immensely beautiful.

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 the 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

 

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, could uphold another. I could look her in the eye and say:

It’s ok to weep. It’s ok to ask questions.

Cling to Christ. He carries.

“You won’t believe me now, but one day it will be better. It may be a long time, but one day you’ll want to live again.”

Jesus turns suffering into unspeakable joy.


If you are interested in guest blogging for us, please click the link here and get all the information.

Forgetting the Past: A Memory Wipe or Living in the Present?

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…”     Philippians 3:13 (TLB)

This verse from Philippians has been going through my mind for quite some time.  I must admit, most days I would rather push it aside and not think about it!

My first impression of this passage was, in order to move or look forward to what lies before me on this journey, I must forget my past! 

But, what if I do not want to “forget the past” and “look forward”?  

I don’t want to “forget” the many years my husband and I shared together.  I don’t want to forget the times we had together (good and bad), his smile, his voice, his touch, the warmth and safety I felt when he wrapped his arms around me, and so much more.  I just want it like it was before my husband died!

My husband and I were happy and looking forward to growing old together.  Oh, our lives were full of challenges, just like many of you experienced, but together, and with God’s help, we were able to face each challenge, one at a time.  Honestly, I had never given any thought of facing life without him.

However, as I continue to move through the many stages of grief connected with this journey, I know that things will never be the same.  I can’t go back.  If I am going to survive, I must “move forward”.

Do I know what that will involve?  No, but I know I must trust God and take one step at a time!  I also know He loves me and is holding my right hand, guiding me with His wisdom and counsel.

As time passes, I find the intensity of my grief is not nearly as great as it was in the beginning.  I am still very sad my life here on earth will never be the same, and there will always be an “ache” in my heart for my husband that no one else can ever fill.  In spite of all those feelings, I am finding God is allowing me to begin to move forward.  He is giving me the courage to try and do things I never would have ever considered doing before my husband passed away.

I am also realizing I do not have to “forget” the past I shared with my husband.  I can keep in my heart the memories and love we shared.  They are mine, and no one can take them away from me! 

I do not believe Paul was advising a “memory wipe” when he says, “forgetting what is behind.”  I believe he was telling us to not live in the past, but to focus on the present and the future.  We are to  “press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

When I am honest with myself, my life has always been full of “moving forward” and making many changes.  Making the transition and crossing these bittersweet thresholds was usually an anguished and sticky passage, but somehow, it seemed to be easier with my husband by my side.

Many years ago, I came across an article which I have kept in my wallet to remind me of leaving the old and embracing the new.  I do not even remember what challenge I was facing at the time I read this, and I certainly never imagined that I would ever apply it to the loss of my dear husband.  These words have meant a lot to me the past few months:

“No matter what you are leaving, scoop from the ashes every brightness – the cherished lessons and experiences, the love that can burn a lifetime.  Take these things with you, and toss the rest bravely to the wind.”

Lord, it’s so difficult to let go of the past and to move forward.  Thank You for the memories I can keep forever. Help me not to live in the past, but, give me the strength and desire to continue to move forward and press toward the goal to win the prize which God has set before me!    Amen


*this article first appeared as Forgetting the Past by the late Karen Emberlin on March 12, 2015

But If Not: Deliverance, Doubts, and Devotion

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.  Daniel 3:17-18 ESV

God, I know You CAN heal my husband…

God, I know You are ABLE to heal this marriage…

God, I know You are STRONG ENOUGH to protect my children from evil influences…

Have you prayed similar prayers?

My doubts never come because I think God isn’t ABLE to do something. My doubts come because I don’t think He WOULD for me. Does He love me? Does He love them more? 

Here in our passage above, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death.

Facing. Death.

They were looking it square in the eyes.

They had no options.

Worship of the True God was not up for discussion, and they knew He was able to “deliver” them. What were they thinking that word meant? Rescue them? Make the fire go out? Probably all kinds of things went through their heads, but I’m guessing NOTHING like what really happened. You can read the full chapter here.

As a result of their hearts being so full of devotion to Jehovah God, they knew even if they were not swept off in a story-book rescue, they would not worship the false gods. They knew they would follow God even into the fire. 

Where was Daniel?  He was their leader. He was the strong one in the bunch.

Have you ever felt that God took the “strong one” in your life- your husband? I hear widows say often – I lost my rock, I lost my leader, I lost my spiritual guide.  But what did these three young men do when faced with the worst possible situation?  They proclaimed their faith. Loud. And. Strong. They had been led well by Daniel. They knew the Truth. And they received something far greater than their friend’s spiritual guidance. They gained an encounter with God right in the middle of the furnace! God was the fourth man in the fire, bringing the king to see the Truth.

That hit me right between the eyes.

I was led by a man who knew God deeply. I had a spiritual guide. He was a strong influence in my life. Now it has been removed. Can I now proclaim my faith loud and strong? Am I able to stand up to adversity so others see God through my life? Do I know God enough to depend on Him during my trials?

So when the worst possible thing happens

and the “rug is pulled out from under” us,

can we STAND? 

 

If our prayers for healing seem to go unanswered,

can we keep trusting?

 

When the fires of life seem to be lapping all around us,

can we bravely stand and say,

“Even if God doesn’t deliver us from the fires,

we will still follow”?

 

Has your strong person of influence been removed from your life? Are you being tested by the “fires” of life today? What or who are you trusting in?

From the passage in Daniel, we do NOT read that the three friends pulled the covers over their heads, crying out, “If only Daniel were here! He would know what to do!” Nope, they bravely stood strong on their convictions and knew exactly what they needed to do.

I need to follow the example of these young men–  stand strong on what I know is true about God and follow Him. Sometimes that will lead me into “fires” only He can deliver me from in a grand way. And sometimes our delivery comes only after we have lived through the flames, scorched and stinking of smoke. My life circumstances do not alter the fact that God loves ME. He is the “fourth” person in the furnace with ME. 

 

Lord Jesus, thank You for the influences of strong believers in our lives. Help us when we are tested and tried, to bravely stand strong on the truth of Scripture and not on our feelings. When doubts come our way, lead us back to Your Word even if we are not delivered in the way we expect or desire. Amen

 

I heard this wonderful song recently that really spoke to this subject. I hope you enjoy it. Even If by Mercy Me.  The words are amazing. Another song from a few years ago is by Kutless, also called Even If.   And if you like the idea of dancing in that fire, you will enjoy this song by Jordan Feliz.

 


 

Elizabeth Kay Dyer

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. 

Are you finding that you are missing the role your husband played? You can read articles here.

If you want inspiration and vision for your future, you can click here. 

 

 

In My Wilderness Wanderings

He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness.

Deuteronomy  2:7 NASB

He knows my wandering.

He knows my times in the wilderness.

I have thought often about the wilderness—finding myself there more than a few times.

Does He care that I am in this wilderness?

I had that thought so often when my husband was ill. Finding myself in the role of caretaker for this large, once strong, self-assured and hilarious man as he was disappearing into a place in his mind where I could not follow, was the most profound wilderness I had ever known. It was unchartered territory and it would shake everything I believed about God to the core.

Where was He in my wilderness?

Where was He in that middle-of-the-night panic and fear?

How would I ever recover?

How was this thing “working together for good” as so many love to quote?

What possible good could come out of such a thing?

Yet I was to discover that walking through a wilderness, Jesus had much of Himself to show me.

I would learn that my wilderness was designed by Him, not simply to test my faith, but to show Himself faithful.

As I traveled through it, He showed me little by little the deeper, bigger plan that He had designed for me in the wilderness. Writing about it years later, I began to see the bigger picture He was painting. It is an impressionistic picture—darks contrasted with lights; shapes and forms not painted in detail, just dabbed onto a canvas in splashes that when viewed as a finished painting shows how those vague splashes of pigment—the splashes of color next to grays and blacks—all come together to translate what the artist saw all along—he was painting light. And light can only be painted as it contrasts with dark.

In my wilderness, dark places that seemed to go on forever were used to contrast with the brilliance of His painting of light. The finished painting is not dark at all; it has an atmosphere of light, shimmering as light does when placed side by side with darkness. God paints in contrasts. But it all ends up as light. Witness that ethereal moment after a rain storm when the storm clouds darken part of the sky, yet with a break in the clouds the sun bursts through creating brilliant, almost otherworldly, color and light. The light is bathed in yellows and oranges and reds; the trees and houses appear to glow. It is in that place where the rainbow will form, with the darkest of clouds as a backdrop. Staring at this scene, the eyes are drawn to that brilliant, glowing light, not to the dark clouds in the background.

Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?

I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. …

because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert,

to give drink to My people, My chosen.

Isaiah 43:19-20 NASB 

I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.

Hosea 13:5 NASB

He knows me in the wilderness of my widowhood. He cares. He is painting Himself—the “Light of the World”—into every detail of my wilderness and as long as I am paying attention—fixing my eyes only on Him, drawing near to Him, choosing to believe when there is no reason left to believe, I will know Him at a level that I never imagined possible. When Jesus is painting light into my wilderness, I can run into that light; I can sit there and let it bathe me in its warmth and comfort, because it is He Himself who is the Light, and He knows my wanderings in this great wilderness. There is life in His light.

Lord Jesus, thank You for painting Yourself into my wilderness and creating something so unimaginably beautiful of this mess. I surrender all into the masterful painting You are creating. I love You, in Jesus Name and for Your glory. Amen.


*This article first appeared as My Bridegroom by Kathleen Beard 03/22/2013

Will We Choose Misery or Ministry?

No one would willingly choose this widow path we have been assigned to walk. It is a painful, definitive part of our whole journey, no matter what the future holds. In an instant every choice we had about the direction of life with our husband was taken out of our grasp; however, we do still have at least one choice to make about the direction of our life going forward — whether we will respond to our circumstance by living a life of misery or ministry.

As a new widow, the pain is overwhelming. Understandably, we may not envision a time when we will have the ability to help others as we so badly need others to minister to our needs and those of our family members. In the early days it takes every bit of strength and focus just to process what goes on around us from minute to minute, hour to hour, and day to day; but at some point  as the fog clears and healing begins, opportunities to serve people outside of our family will present themselves. At that time, we choose to either remain focused only on self and the misery of our loss or to begin focusing on others and how we can minister to them.

It has been like medicine to my soul to meditate on passages of Scripture that encourage me to focus on something beyond the pain of my own circumstance and to recognize opportunities to practice serving others. One such passage expresses the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

From this we can see at least eight things that can encourage us. We are

  1. to rejoice
  2. to let our reasonableness be known to everyone
  3. not to be anxious about anything
  4. to let our requests be known to God through prayer, with thanksgiving
  5. to know that the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus
  6. to think on the positive list of things given in this passage
  7. to practice what we learned in this passage
  8. and when we do practice these things, he says the God of peace will be with us.

It is natural and beneficial to grieve at our own pace; but it is detrimental to wallow in grief, both to us and to those around us. Just as with open wounds, we need to apply the medicine that will help us to heal, even though scars will remain. Wounds that remain open can fester, cause infection, and decay. Scars can be a beautiful testimony of God’s faithfulness to bring healing and purpose to our lives and can be instrumental in helping others to heal as well.

What will we choose? Misery or ministry?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3: 20-21 (ESV)

Lord, please bring us all to a place of healing from the pain of loss, leaving only the scars that testify to Your mercy and goodness in carrying us through our trials. You have promised us Your peace that surpasses all understanding and You have promised to be with us when we practice what we have learned. Please help us choose ministry over misery so that we can be used to minister to other people for Your glory. 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: Breathing In HopeNew Paint

A New Word for a New Year

Galatians 3:11 (The Message)

The person who lives in

right relationship with God

does it by EMBRACING

what God arranges for him.

My mouth fell open. I sat in shock as the speaker seemed to look directly at me. How could she have known what God had been doing in my life for the past six months? It appeared she could see directly into my heart as she spoke.

But the verse she used almost made me stand up and shout, “Thank You, Jesus!” She had us turn to this verse in Galatians, and when she read it from The Message, it gave me chills.

You see, in 2016, I found a word, just one seven-letter word, that was to be my “word for the year”.

Embrace.

When I saw this verse had MY word in it, I knew I needed to take careful note.

God had shown me the word EMBRACE often over the past six months before I ever thought to see if there were any verses about it. I should have known that if God was going to lead me to a “word”, He would include His Word with it!

So what did I have to EMBRACE in 2016?

  • my widowhood – it is what God has arranged for me, and it is my story to bring Him glory.

  • my family – having children was arranged by God, so I embrace parenting with God as the father to the fatherless.

  • my past marriage – its difficulties  have allowed me to minister to others in similar circumstances. Its greatness has allowed me wonderful memories.

  • moving –  selling the home full of memories of my husband and purchasing a smaller home ready for new memories was a roller coaster of emotions.

As I develop my relationship with God by spending time with Him in His Word, I will EMBRACE what He arranged for me. I like to use my One Year Bible since it is a version I don’t use often. I see familiar passages in an entirely new light.

Recently I asked God if EMBRACE  was to continue as my word for 2017. Driving around with my son one day, our discussion turned to a relationship I was struggling with. What came to mind was how I should handle rejection by praying for the person. That’s when a new word for the new year hit me –

RELEASE! 

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will RELEASE my feet from the snare. 

Psalm 25:15 NIV

What do I need to RELEASE for 2017?

  • people – certain folk I am releasing to God (some on social media and some in real life).

  • situations – those I can’t control (like the Serenity Prayer says) need to be released to God’s control.

  • expectations – of myself and of others are being released.

All of these are snares for me personally. And keeping my eyes “ever on the Lord” is the best way to release these people or feelings to His control.

Happy 2017, sisters. Let’s make this a year of EMBRACING what God has arranged for us and of RELEASING what God doesn’t have for us.

Heavenly Father, as we start a new year, help us embrace all You have arranged. Energize our time spent building our relationship with You this coming year. We are grateful for Your love and care in our lives. We release what we cannot control to Your control. Amen

 


 

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. 

Would you like to read some articles for the start of a new year? Click here and here.

 

This Complicated Messy Life

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 139:13 ESV

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say.

Life is complicated and messy. I find myself wondering if I will ever be able to think straight again, 100% straight. I was recently asked, “Do you know what…?” It was meant in a very general way, yet it struck me so profoundly. My response was, “I know many things and yet I know nothing at all.” It seems the longer I travel this journey of life, the more truth there is for me in that sentence.

I am not uneducated, nor am I lacking mental prowess, yet there is very little that I truly KNOW.

When I was first widowed, I knew I had to write about my journey. I knew it would help me grieve. I didn’t know that season might come to an end or that God would ask me to write about things other than grief.

When I was first widowed, I believed I would never consider remarrying. The thought of dating repulsed me. I didn’t know that would all change with one random text and one strong man who made me feel alive again. I didn’t see that coming and I certainly didn’t see it ending, but it did. I’m still not sure I know what really happened, maybe I  was just not ready to date yet and went way too far too fast. I don’t know; life is complicated and messy and dating at this age is a “whole nother level” of COMPLICATED AND MESSY.

When I was first widowed, I thought I would never be whole again, never mend. I was broken into a million pieces, like an icicle shattering on concrete, and I had no desire to go on; none. I didn’t KNOW the God, who formed me and shaped me in my mothers womb, would gather my shattered, broken, wounded spirit and hold me so closely all I could do was breathe Him in until He helped me learn to breathe on my own again.

When I was first widowed, I considered death and grief to be all I was facing. I didn’t know death and grief have companions; loneliness, doubt, secondary loss, anger, guilt, unworthiness, fear, financial strain, lack of identity, incompleteness, and abandonment, just to name a few.

When I was first widowed…… was almost five years ago.

So now what? What of today and tomorrow?

Now I know it’s time to write about all kinds of things. It’s time for my journey into articles, blogs and books to cover many topics and audiences. It’s time for my writing to morph into what God has next for me in this crazy life.

Now I believe it is not only time to try dating again, but to become part of a forever family. A family God has pressed me to pray for almost every single day for the last fourteen months. I now know I am made to be a wife. It is one of my hearts desires. I don’t want a replacement husband. I want a man who knows I was loved well, but I still have a lot more love to offer, and who wants to become part of that forever story with me. A man who will walk side-by-side and talk through the complicated and messy parts, because the other parts make it worth it.

Now I think God knew all along exactly how I would react to my brokenness. He knew I would lean into Him and not run away from His love. He knew me better than I knew myself, because He knit me together. He knew widow would be one of the many labels of my life, yet I would not want to wear it as a sash and crown. I want it to be part of who I am and not all that I am defined by.  

Now I consider it all joy to have walked this journey, and all of its losses, because of all the people I have been able to minister to and with over the past five years.

Now it’s time for a new season of life, a new adventure, with more twists and turns. I don’t know how it will turn out, but I’m excited to explore all the possibilities. Along the way, I’ll be praying for you and your journey too.

Father, I pray that You will bless all who read this with a reminder of how big you are and how much You love them.  In Jesus name, Amen.


Tcas1

Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012 after losing her best friend, Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

Would you like to schedule Teri or another team member to speak at your next church event? Contact her at admin@anewseason.net

Other great articles by Teri, click here!

Posts similar to this one by other authors: Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?  & Breathing in Hope

The Lady At The Store

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards’ of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

“Our dad is in heaven, his gun shot himself.”

One of our tougher moments in the early days of this grief journey was in line at a store.  My twin boys were just four years old.  They knew their daddy was in heaven, and they knew the simplest version of what happened.

When the sweet lady in front of us complimented their behavior I barely saw it coming. She told them they should be proud and go home and tell their daddy how well they had behaved.  That poor lady!  She never saw it coming either, but when it did, her face went from pale white to red flushed, as she watched me nod to confirm their words.  She choked back tears as she apologized for saying anything to them and then moved on rather quickly.

Early on that was the usual reaction.  No one really knew what to say.  There were many awkward moments when someone heard my husband was in heaven and then pressed to know how he died.  There was the cashier at the grocery store, who pressed me on my pretty necklace (Scott’s wedding ring I had made into a necklace).  And then couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. The waitress at the restaurant.  The dry cleaner cashier.

Once the word suicide is dropped, the tough awkward moments fly and many well meaning people want to flee!

The stigma of and circumstances surrounding suicide are hard enough for those intimately involved, for a stranger they are nearly impossible.

Yet, there were many who stood by us and were there for us from the very beginning.  Our families hunkered together the day Scott got heaven, as my church family formed a barrier outside of my house to keep strangers and the media out (Scott’s death was very public and made national news). The local businesses that showed up with tray after tray of food. (Our families have lived in the same small town for generations.) The many, some strangers even, who came to show their love towards us, and with compassionate hearts poured out their gifts of wisdom and comfort.

It’s funny how I realize now that before all this I would’ve been the judgmental fleeing kind.  I was “the lady at the store”.  I had my own critical thoughts and opinions on death, especially on suicide, and even grief.

I knew nothing!

Now, I want to say to the lady at that store and the cashier at the grocery store and the many others, “Don’t be afraid to go there.”  Compassion, sympathy and empathy can be so powerful to a hurting person.

And I want to say to the many others, “Thank you!”  Thank you for walking this unashamedly with us.  Thank you for your kindness, care and concern. Thank you for extending grace and showing us Scott’s life was much more than that one moment.

I want to say to each of you,  be ready and willing to go there with others.  You’ve got deep places now.  You get this!  Be ready to stand with the next grieving person.  It’s going to come.  We know that well.  It’s a gift to love others from your pain to theirs.

This grief walk is not wasted. Prepare yourself well, so you aren’t the lady in line with me. Take every opportunity to shine Christ and bless others with the gifts God has now given you.

Father God, thank you for giving me the gifts I have received through this journey.  Help me to see hurt and pain in others and shine You to them as I take the time to care.  Help me to never brush off a hurting person, or waste the lessons You’ve given me.  Prepare to minister to others from the deeper places You have given me.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.


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. 

Articles with a similar theme: Fill My Days with Living! and THE STEWARDSHIP OF SUFFERING