Our Stories so Uniquely the Same- Part One

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28 ESV

I encourage you, sisters, to join me in a three part series I wrote years ago as I started this ministry.  I was struck by how unique and compelling each woman’s story was, and yet how similarly the threads of love, loss, and healing weave through all of our stories–creating one message: Hope in Christ.  The original writing was three times the length of our current articles, so I have split these into three parts which we will publish today and over the coming months. Today’s part focuses on those early days of loss.  Look for part two on the second year and part three on a new season in the coming months. Bless you sisters– our stories share God’s love for us!           ~Kit

***

The day of the funeral we wore that dress we wish we could forget about. Some of us wore stylish dresses, as though our husbands would be comforted in Heaven if we tried our best to not look as awful as we felt. Some of us wore the simplest of black dresses—after all, the occasion wasn’t happy—why attract attention to ourselves? Some of us hate black and purposely chose navy blue. Some of us borrowed dresses from our sisters and then asked them to take it back and never show it to us again. Why use our own dress, which would sit in the closet as a constant reminder?

All of us cried. We cried heavy, even howled—never holding back—drowning in wet tissues for hours on our sisters’ laps. We cried soft whimpers when no one was looking. We cried silent tears—staring blankly at the empty world we faced without them. We didn’t cry at all at first and even wondered if everyone thought we didn’t love our husbands. Of course, we did—more than life itself—it’s just that we’re not criers—or so we thought. In private, it all came loose. We drowned our tears in wine until a friend plucked us up and sat with us so we wouldn’t drink alone. We cried in waves, like a roller coaster—fine one minute, calm, even kind of detached about it as we sorted through things in the house—wondering why on earth we’ve been given this strange peace, until the wave crashed and then boom—we dissolved into inconsolable tears.

We got through that first month. Some of us were thrust into crisis mode—”He had a business with customers banging at the door—who else but the widow would be expected to close up shop?” Some of us fought with the insurance company—”what do you mean investigation? I thought our life insurance was secure!” Some of us couldn’t stay in our homes—without him, the rent couldn’t be paid. Many of us refused to think about it. The kids were so confused—how could we even have a moment to think about ourselves with our kids asking so many questions? Some of us got busy—cleaning, trying to make order somewhere even with the chaos in our hearts.

Then we had to deal with his belongings unless we expected to live with the constant evidence someone should still be there. We had friends sort through his belongings for us—bagging up his clothes and taking them to Goodwill right away. We wouldn’t let anyone touch his belongings. Their closets became unbearable to touch, a sort of shrine to their existence in our lives. We organized his belongings into nice little boxes and moved them into the attic. Hopefully, we can eventually have the courage to reopen them and decide what to do with it all. We left certain belongings untouched. That receipt from Blockbuster he taped onto the side of the refrigerator stayed there for years. Even visitors seemed to know it would be sacrilegious to remove it.

***

But all of us do… live life more. Whether it’s through grieving more deeply or actively starting life more quickly, we live life more. Our tragedies are parallel and the ripples from our tragedies go in all different directions. And somehow, always lead to redemption.

Father God,  I thank You for these sisters who continue to share their stories with us. I marvel at how strong each of them is, and how You have taken the horrible losses in their lives to transform them and glorify You.


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:

Inlaws- not Outlaws

Something Else to be Afraid of

A Widow’s Walk is Never Carved in Stone

Sexual Purity, Even More as a Widow

I did a little internet search of widows and sexual purity.

Wow!

What an eye-opening and shocking experience.

Let me start by saying our ministry is set apart from many other widow support groups, mainly because we want to point you FIRST to God’s Word as Truth. We are not going to give you what our culture expresses as truth. We aren’t going to sugar-coat it. Scripture has some absolutes on this subject that we support.

Some in our culture have decided to change the meaning in Scripture so it makes things “easier” for them during the dating days. If we are in a “committed” relationship, they say, then we can justify sex outside of marriage. Some bloggers even suggest to widows that having a purely sexual relationship is an acceptable way to satisfy that part of our need.

I’m going to propose that during widowhood, we need to stand even more firm on the foundation of sexual purity, even though we are no longer virgins. We do not have a “free pass” to sleep with whomever we want, just because it “doesn’t make a difference” this time around. It does make a difference, even as non-virgins, because it affects others when we live an impure life – not just ourselves.

We can apply Scripture to help us remember how important purity is before the Lord, by using them. 

T.H.E.M.

Who is the them?

It could be the community of believers,  a future husband,  friends, children, or unbelievers.

  1. TEMPLE: Our bodies are a temple so we should keep it holy and unblemished. I Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,  for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
  2. HUSBAND: God is your husband. You would be unfaithful to Him as your husband if you are sexually involved with men before marriage. Isaiah 54;5 ESV For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
  3. EXAMPLE: Especially when there are children in the home, we must set a moral example to them. You are an example to other widows who are new on their widowhood journey also.   I Timothy 4:12 ESV but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
  4. MARRY: In the New Testament references I looked up, sex was condoned and even encouraged within the context of marriage, never outside of those boundaries.  I Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. Also  I Timothy 5:3-15   

Sexual purity does matter, sisters. It matters to God and should matter to us.

When I think there are things in life that are just too hard to handle or just too difficult to keep up with, I always remember Hebrews 12. Words like endurance, weary, struggle, discipline jump out at me. The widow-life is never a time to give up, and the moral high-road can be challenging.  Yet we can do it in God’s strength!

But what if I have made some poor decisions due to my extreme loneliness? I haven’t stayed pure. Is it too late to start over? NO! It is never too late for a new start. God is in the forgiveness business! I John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is FAITHFUL and TRUE to His nature to FORGIVE us, CLEANSE us, and make us whole again. 

This doesn’t really pertain to me. I’m not at ALL interested in remarriage for the remainder of my life. Why is this topic important to me? Glad you asked! Titus 2 is a wonderful passage that instructs the “older” women to lead the “younger” women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled and pure so that the Word of God can’t be criticized by outsiders. You can play a role in encouraging others to stay pure!

Let’s accept the challenge!

Lord God, we believe we are a temple in which Your Spirit lives. You have given us all we need to accept the challenge. Help us endure, even while weary, the discipline of living a life of purity. Guide us through the pitfalls our culture throws at us everyday through advertisements, TV shows, and all that comes our way. And thank You for the forgiveness we need each day. Amen


Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

Elizabeth finds humor in the daily grind of six children, a large dog, a noisy cat, and all the school and church activities they can fit in. Their house is full of instruments including flutes, piccolo, piano, oboe, saxophones, clarinets, guitars, and a trumpet. 2013 began with Elizabeth losing her husband then her father, sending one child to college and another to kindergarten. Through that tearful year, the family has learned to laugh together again. She loves Psalm 1 and historical fiction, dreams of traveling by train around Europe, and has already planned her mid-life crisis (should the opportunity ever present itself).

 

 

Other articles on purity:

The Physical Loss  by Lori

Marital Bed by Erika

Dating by Kit

Other articles by Elizabeth 

 

 

The Widow Painting

…we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

2 Corinthians 4:18

When you see this painting, what do you see?

A widow?

A busy mom?

A hard life with purpose?

Or, perhaps a silly woman who took on too much?

This painting hung in my home since the 1990’s when it was handed down to me from my uncle’s collection. It always seemed to bring me thoughts of my grandmother, or of life’s sometimes difficult journey.

Until I lost my husband.

Then suddenly I only saw a widow. That lonely woman among the tall trees burdened with that pile of sticks on her back. I saw her bent over, no longer upright and proud like she must have been in her marriage.

Funny how I never thought of the woman as a widow until I became one. And then the painting became “the widow painting” in my mind. I found it more beautiful than ever because I identified with her quite more robustly than ever before.

It’s been years since I lost Tom, and I still find myself seeing “widow” in the painting. It’s like the illusionist sketch of the old lady and the young woman—once you see it one way, your brain wants to return to that image.

So I got curious. What if I asked four married women what they see in this painting? Their reactions helped me to begin seeing the woman without automatically thinking loss.

Reaction 1: The Beautiful Heart of a Mother

I LOVE this picture. What clever imagery it offers! God doesn’t want us to carry our burdens alone. She looks like a Russian woman going home through the beautiful birch woods after gathering the fuel needed to make her home warm and fix the meals to provide for her family. God never promised it would be easy, but He does promise to share the load and walk beside us!

Reaction 2: The Overly Busy Mother

She’s alone. I think of all the times women are faced with so much to do—kids, carpools, teenagers gone prodigal, bills that can’t get paid, stressful jobs, husbands we love but let us down. Where are the other women in the picture? Why aren’t they stepping in to help her? Did she push them away? Did they never help? Funny thing, I don’t imagine men coming in to help her, but sisters.

Reaction 3: The Hard Life is Worth it

Oh, that is so me!!! I work grueling hours, and I’m tired all the time! After putting everything into raising kids, we have no retirement savings and even share one car! This painting reminds me­ we aren’t promised ease, but we are promised joy. I wouldn’t trade my life nor the decisions I’ve made when they honored God, for anything! Thank you, Jesus!

Reaction 4: Silly Woman Works too Hard!

I see the woman and wonder why she would take so much on by herself. I simply don’t do that. I remarried after being widowed, and maybe I just recognized I needed a partner in life. I was fortunate enough to meet a godly Christian guy who does well with me. But if I hadn’t married, I would make sure I didn’t take on more than I could. This woman is taking on too much.

Why are their responses of interest to us? Because I want readers here to remember there is a whole world beyond widowhood, and while grief is a journey we must fully experience, eventually we must see ourselves outside the lens of widowhood.

These women aren’t widows, but they have their own life challenges like job loss, marital tension, a grown child who has completely gone prodigal, waning health or physical exhaustion.

Can you begin to imagine that woman in the woods representing these burdens rather than widowhood? When I began to look around me at so many burdens that so many carry, my heart went out to others. I felt a community of fellow Christians carrying each other’s burdens. And that’s a community that grows us all stronger!

Lord God,

You ask us to see our lives through Your eyes, not through the lens of our own limitations. Help us walk this journey honorably, knowing that others walk equally difficult journeys. Encourage us to hold our heads up with our gazes upon Christ and no longer feel the shame of our widowhood.  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:

The Widow Card

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot

Fake it Till You Make it–No!

 

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.

Stay Connected

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

                                                                                John 15:5 ESV

 What are you living for? It’s a question we come face to face with when our world is turned upside down by the loss of our spouses. My answer is I live to glorify God. There is only one way I can accomplish that purpose, I have to stay connected.

One of the first verses I memorized was John 15:5. But of course I memorized it WRONG. My version ended with “apart from me you ARE nothing” instead of “apart from me you CAN DO nothing.” Amazing what a difference those two little words make. I still chuckle when I think about this verse and my mistake. Over time, this mistake has become a two-fold lesson. First, it became a lesson about who I am in Christ – I am not, nor could I ever be, nothing to God. Secondly, it became a lesson about the importance of meditating on God’s word. Two critical lessons that have sustained me, challenged me, and strengthened me, throughout my journey.

When I became a widow, I struggled with who I was since I was no longer a wife. Several times the Holy Spirit reminded me of the truth I had learned from John 15:5. God is the vine and I am the branch. Being the branch – an extension of the vine – is amazing. Whether I am a wife or a widow, doesn’t change the reality that God created me to be His creation, connected to Him. No matter how alone I feel, how overwhelmed I get or how many tears I cry, I am still something. I am His creation, whom He loves. He has created me to draw my strength and my life from Him – the vine.

Over time, this verse has fundamentally changed my understanding of who I really am. Wisdom and understanding made possible only by the Holy Spirit helping me truly meditate on God’s word. I thought about this verse repeatedly until it seemed like it permeated every crevice of my brain. In addition to teaching me who I am, this verse reminds me how important it is to stay connected to God.

Early in my widow journey, I found it unbelievably difficult to read. Decades of being able to pick up my bible and receive comfort or wisdom whenever I needed, was suddenly something I was incapable of doing. At first, it was a few days, then a few weeks, and then it started to stretch into months, I started to panic. I tried reading my bible, reading devotionals, listening to Christian music. Nothing seemed to work. Eventually, I felt prompted by the Spirit to start writing devotionals, which seemed crazy at the time. How could I write, when I couldn’t even read? Writing turned out to be exactly what I needed to help me meditate on God’s word and stay connected to Him.

Are you struggling? Then breathe in the truth that God is the vine and you are the branch. Your identity, your strength, your life, comes from your connection to Him. Nothing can change that truth. Wait for God to supply the life and the direction you need, which can only come from Him. Trust – you are His creation whom He loves. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you so you stay connected!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches us Your truth and who provides comfort and guidance. Help us to meditate on Your truth and to glorify You in all we say and do! Amen.

 


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? Draw Closer

Want to read another article? 5 things to help us heal by Elizabeth

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.

 

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

Checking That Box

Today we share a post written several years ago by a dear sister, Danita.  We pray her words will encourage you.  Even though we are in this hard place, God is here and He gives us His Word to remind us of His faithfulness.  Join us as we share Danita’s encouragement.


A Box I Did Not Choose by Danita Hiles

When my husband Dave died – the hardest thing for me to get used to was the ‘box marked widow’. I must have filled out 500 forms during the paperwork process, and on every one had to check that box for marital status. Widow. Widow. WIDOW!!! Ugh. This word was (is) hard for me to embrace.

The government had decided this was my label. My bank. My doctor’s office. My kid’s school. My tax returns. Over and over again I was forced to check the box marked widow.

I wanted to scream – this is not me! This is not who I want to be. I want to be wife. Partner. Helpmate. Sister. Daughter. Mother . Friend.

Instead I was in a box. A box I didn’t like. A box I didn’t choose. A box marked ‘widow’. Ugh.

In those early desperate days I asked God for something to hold onto from His word. I opened a devotional to a reading about Psalm 16 and the words literally jumped off the page at me. ‘This is my portion and my cup’ (vs. 5) . Essentially, in today’s language – ‘it is what it is’.

When the miracle doesn’t happen and the doctor’s news is grim and the relationship isn’t restored and you are standing in a cemetery, sometimes it simply ‘is what it is’. But oh, the sweet words of the next verse: ‘He will make the boundaries fall for me in pleasant places…’ In spite of today’s ugly reality, we have His word on it that He alone is charge of the boundaries of our life. Nothing happens to us out of reach of His loving hand.

So then how do we walk through this valley ? The next few verses of Psalm 16 are pretty clear with three ‘I wills’ to guide us; I will always set the Lord before me… I will praise the LORD, who counsels me. And finally, because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Even on difficult days like this early journal entry depicts:

Sometimes the feelings of grief and loneliness are so strong that I feel as though

I am drowning.

The impossibility of this day-to-day reality without Dave

Makes it even hard to breathe.

today it is a never ending frustration with things.

things that break.

things that cost money.

things that can’t be fixed.

things that i am the only one responsible for cleaning and organizing and remembering.

There’s only one grown-up in the house now
and she’s really tired.

mommy, mommy, mommy,

can you? did you? would you?

thoughts of the future spiral ahead

will it be any different

one month

one year

five years from now?

will there be more mommy to go around?

will I finally have gotten a handle on this reality and become organized

and be the mature woman of God I have admired in others?

Will I ever come to grips with the word widow.

And single mother.

And always having leftovers because most recipes are designed to feed a family of four.

And we are no longer that.

God knows.

Tonight there is just me and these words
and His words to me

And when all else fails, and the world is crumbling,

I can stand on His word….

Years later…I’m still standing!

Psalm 16 ends with this promise:

You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Precious friends – we may never know the answer to life’s hard questions, especially the whys of God’s timing surrounding those we love. But He has promised us His joy on this earth and eternity with Him. My box still says widow , but my Bible says He is with me, and my future is in His hands. I choose to praise Him. I choose to set Him before me. I choose to allow him to fill me with joy in his presence and live out loud as long as I have breath!


Other articles with a similar theme: It Is What It Is & God is Faithful

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

 

Unexplainable Joy

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,

1 Peter 1:8

How do I explain unexplainable joy?

It eases my pain.

It gives me strength to walk away every time something tries to take the place of God in my life.

Like when He gave me strength to say no to an insincere suitor. I felt a thousand angels trumpeting their horns as I chose genuine goodness over this man’s looks and prestige.

And when I closed the web browser before spending over my budget on designer clothes. At that moment I felt Him place on me a joyful royal robe. It was a peace more satisfying than any temporary buzz of the world’s acceptance.

Do know you can’t grab that joy yourself? When He decides to give it to you, He readies you for it.

It starts when you turn away from what the world has to offer and turn to Him for what He has to offer. Giving up the guy or the dress humbled my heart, making it ready to receive what the Scripture had to offer–a reminder that everything will be made right.

All of it. He’ll mend every broken heart, deal with every wrong and expose every lie.

Even my own.

Because I’m included in it all. When a friend lets me down, I forgive because He forgave me when I let Him down.

He will fix it all, heal it all, make it all whole. Knowing that brings me joy, and I need do nothing but rest in this unexplainable joy.

That joy didn’t just land in my heart. The Lord had to show it to me, and I had to accept it.

Years ago, even before I lost my husband, there was a time when I suffered a huge set back in life. My first husband was abandoning our marriage just as I was feeling pressure at work due to a corporate merger I had no control over. I felt shocked that my life had been flipped on its head.  Desperation set in as soon as the shock wore off. All I could ask was why me?

Others tried to share their stories of trusting God and feeling joy, but I wouldn’t listen. I thought, who wants to be one of those downtrodden people who had to ask for God’s comfort? I didn’t want comfort!  I wanted my old life back—the security and prestige.

I bumped and jostled through my self pity until it started to occur to me that sitting in self-pity for too long was everything but obedient to God, and wanting everything my way, the way it was before, was not accepting God’s will, and that was sin. Eventually my pride fell way, and I surrendered my self-pity, replacing it with hope. There had to be something better waiting out there than my old life.  With a new anticipation in my heart, I finally said it: “Give me what You have, Jesus—I WANT IT!”

Are you worn down by your loss?  Have you mourned for so long you don’t remember what it felt like to feel joy in your heart?  Can you reach back to that time as a child when you felt joy in your heart?

Do you want that now?

Then throw open your heart to Him.  Humble yourself.  Take what you’ve been using to replace God in your life and give it to Him. Let Him give you unexplainable joy.

Sometimes you feel like everything has been taken away from you. Maybe for you the word “everything” is reality. Maybe when you lost your husband, you also lost financial security, social networks and the leadership you needed for decision-making.

If you’ve lost what feels like everything, make HIM your everything!

In reality, He IS everything.  You can’t escape Him. You can only shrug Him off, and that hurts no one but you.

He wipes your tears. He can even find a way for your bills to be paid. He can bring you that fellowship when you need it.

And you need it. So ask for it.

That unexplainable joy.

Jesus,

If there is a sister out there stuck in her grief and has cried so many tears she doesn’t know how to get herself up, would You give her a peak at Your greatness to a point where she wants more of what she saw and begin demanding that unexplainable joy?  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:

Where’s your “brave”?

Why we Have Hope

Our Hope

I Choose Joy

These things I have spoken to you,

that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

(John 15:11  ESV)

I find it startling at times, the number of people who make comments to me about how I have handled this walk of grief since my husband’s passing. Startling, because they seem to paint a picture I feel I am not. Inspirational. Admirable. Amazing. Polished. Refined. Whoa. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill! Descriptive words I can assure you, I feel anything but. Fearful. Weak. Confused. A hot mess. Now, you’re talking! That is how I view myself.

However, there is one word that not only calls me to self-examination, but also, calls me to embrace and seek to achieve.

Joyful.

Joyful in the sorrow?

When people ask me why I can still be joyful even in this walk of widowhood and the addition of several other trials, I know my reply can only point to my Lord Jesus Christ. Spiritual joy is a gift and it should be our desire to rejoice in the Lord at all times. Even in the trials and tribulations.

I wish I could say I always fulfill this descriptive word. I can not. So, I often examine where I am and evaluate where God wants me. Recent events have caused me to feel the JOY in my life deflating as quickly as a balloon pricked by a pin. I have come to the realization it is the invasion of these pesky annoyances that can wreak havoc on our joy. However, I know this is the worldly way. The worldly view of joy is fickle and temporary. It is a joy that comes and goes based on our circumstances. This joy pales in comparison to the true joy only God can give us. It is not a feeling – it is our choice whether we embrace this joy God desires for us.

Whenever people truly know, love and worship God, He instills a joy that only He can put into the hearts of worshipers. It is not based on circumstances or objects. Whatever we are going through, this joy can not be taken away. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:10 we can be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. I believe as followers of Christ, no matter how dark our season of sadness is, we are never completely without joy in God, if only a remembered taste of its goodness.

Trust me. I need to hear this reminder daily. Sometimes the heaviness of life’s challenges can bear down so intensely, it is easy to let it zap the joy out of us. Problems. Hurting hearts. Loneliness. Health concerns. Financial woes. Single parenting. These circumstances are real and they are challenging.

But, I know I must trust God is my strength and comfort no matter the situation. I will choose to rejoice always. I will remember I am a daughter of the King and apart from Him there can be no joy.

We are forgiven children of God and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. That alone is worth shouting for joy.

Father, thank You for Your promise to always be our strength and comfort in all situations. May we find our way to “rejoice always” even in the hard times. Yes, Lord, may we choose Your gift of Joy so others can see You in us. Amen


img_2753 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 “Joy” shared by Elizabeth and Kit.