Caring What Others Think

Losing your husband and everything that comes with that loss is horrific enough, but when others pass judgment on our lives and decisions it can be extremely difficult. As human beings, it’s tough to ignore what others think of us because no matter how much we say we don’t, we care.

Because my husband died of Depression and suicide, the judgment began immediately. No one understood that it was a shock to me, too. No one understood that he was the last person on this earth I ever thought this could happen to. No one understood, including me, that many people who are suffering from Depression try to protect the ones they love by only showing what they want them to see, even to their spouse and best friend.

In the beginning, I paid little attention to that judgment. I was just trying to survive. But as time passed, the thoughts about my family, especially my husband, began to really impact me. And, as the months went on and I unexpectedly found love again – many could not understand, passed judgment and made comments of what they would do in the same situation.

However, here’s the thing and one of the many things I have learned – you have absolutely no idea what you will do until you face that situation and, even then, specific circumstances could be different.

From the beginning of this journey of widowhood to today, I remind myself that I cannot make life decisions for my son and myself only to make others comfortable. I have to follow where the Lord is leading. His grace is sufficient for any problem, struggle or judgment we may face.

I prayed for the Lord’s guidance and tried to turn my defensive thoughts over to Him. He knows my heart, and I knew those who loved me and really knew me would eventually come to a place of understanding. And, most of them have.

When worry of what others think and my own defensive mindset attempt to consume me, I cling to this verse.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

Caring too much about what others think can stop us from doing God’s will. When we base our lives on the thoughts of others, we could miss out on all He has in store for us. Lean into Christ. If we are confident in Him, we can be confident in every area of our lives.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Lord, You know our hearts. As we walk this journey of widowhood, we can sometimes care too much of what others think. Help remind us that what you know about our hearts is more important than what others think they know. Guide us through, and open our hearts to Your calling for our lives. Amen.

__________________________________________________________________________

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

 

 

Want to read another article by Jennifer? This Isn’t What I had Planned

Want to read another article on judgment? Get Over It by Erika

 

What We Know To Be True

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

                                                   2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

Have you ever been really, really, sure of something …only to find out you were completely wrong?

My funniest example happened when I was twelve. I lived in Okinawa, Japan and getting to go to the one movie theater on base was a Big deal. Here’s how the conversation with my Dad went:

Me: Daddy, can we go see this movie (rated X).

Dad : Why do you want to see that one?

Me:  Because it is rated X.

Dad: Why do you want to see an X rated movie?

Me:  Because it is excellent.

Dad:  Why do you think that?

Me:  Because it says so, X is for eXcellent, R is for Really Good, PG is for Pretty Good and G is for Good.

At which point my Dad broke into laughter and explained the ratings system to me. A funny little exchange but what I remember most was how sure I was that I was right. And I learned that just because I feel certain something is right does not mean that it is right.

It has turned out to be a very valuable lesson in my life. Something I have reflected on often as a widow; particularly when I am feeling depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. I have learned to “test” my feelings to see if they line up with God’s truth. Here are a few examples:

 

My Feeling: God’s truth:
My life is over. Ps 139:16  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I have no purpose anymore. Acts 20:24  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
God doesn’t love me / no one loves me. 1 John 2:5  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him.
I am not “good” enough. Titus 3:4-7  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
God doesn’t care about this… Matt 6:31-33  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
I have nothing more to give. Phil 1:3-6  I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I will never be happy again. James 1:2-4  Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

These are just some of the feelings that I have experienced on this journey. I am so thankful for His word, His truth that is so useful in correcting my thinking and feelings.

Dear sisters, I pray that you will be immersed in Him, in His truth so that you may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. You are precious, because you are His. And nothing can ever change that truth. Much love to each of you!

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

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

Want to read another article by this author? Stay Connected

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

 

 

No Longer a Slave to Fear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

______________________________________________________________________

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

 

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

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

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

 

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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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. 

 

 

Acceptance?

In the beginning, the idea of accepting the death of my husband seemed totally impossible, mainly because I could give so many reasons why his death was unacceptable! God knows, I thrashed against acceptance, my heart broken, my life and future an alien place I never envisioned. Question marks dangled at the ends of my thoughts. If answers were the pathway to acceptance, I suspected it would forever elude me. However, the knowledge that God is good, no matter what, helped to gently usher me towards acceptance.

More deeply still I discovered that faith is anchored to the character of God in the storms of life.

GOD is ATTENTIVE

  • “Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.” Jer. 33:3 (ESV)
  • “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:15 (ESV)
  • “Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.”- Matthew 6:31,32 (ESV)

GOD is COMPASSIONATE and FAITHFUL

  • “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 (ESV)
  • ”But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:15 (ESV)
  • “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” – 2 Timothy 2:13 (ESV) (We are His kids!)

The knowledge of God’s character was a comfort as I wrestled to make sense of my finances, reconciled medical bills, and relocated to a new home, all within the first year. During that time, and well beyond, I toggled back and forth within the stages of grief but did not get close to accepting my husband’s absence. Ultimately, I flirted with acceptance before I could really exhale there.

I discovered acceptance isn’t the absence of missing or loving my sweetheart. Instead it is making peace with the loss, and learning how to integrate my husband’s death into my present life.

Once the initial numbness left, for a long while I felt I was going through the motions of living. A broken heart takes time to heal, and it was impossible to gather those broken pieces. God had them though. He cherished them and cared for them, while enabling me gradually to re-engage my heart in living. It was under the wing of God’s loving care, and with the anchor of knowing His goodness, that He knit together the broken pieces and I could fully engage in my altered life. Love, longing for my husband’s presence, and moments of sorrow remain. Yet, in making peace with the tremendous loss of my beloved, I have found a new peace in the present and am invested in living until I’m called home. I believe this is called “acceptance.”

“For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” – Psalm 100:5 (ESV)

All-Present God, may our faith not be circumstantial but anchored by the eternal consistency of your character, confident in your steadfast love. Lord, please lead us to accept the healing of our hearts and lives for the future you have in your sights for each of us. Thank you that our futures are as unique for each as each is unique. We look to You and thank you that while we don’t see our path, You guide us step by step. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.


 

Janene @ Myrtle Beach

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

For more reading on the topic of God’s anchoring us throughout the stages of grief, you may enjoy these:

Applying Peace by Lori

Lead Me, Guide Me, Walk Beside Me by Karen

 

What Can I Do?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

                                                                                                                   Isaiah 26:3 ESV

 

My whole world is upside down. Why am I still here?

These thoughts and many like them can run through our minds time and time again.

We often question our purpose when our lives, and what we thought our futures would be, have changed so drastically. But the truth is, the purpose of our lives, the reason we have been created, hasn’t changed. We are created by Him, for His glory.

I am so broken. How could I possibly bring Him glory?

Today in all your brokenness, can you imagine doing something so powerful, so significant that it would be worthy of being included in God’s Word? Every day you choose to trust God, you are doing something that worthy, powerful and significant. You are following Christ, just like the woman in the crowd who reached out and grabbed His cloak – because she trusted He was who He said He was. (story told in Mark 5:25 -34) Trusting Him brings Him glory and it brings you peace.

I have nothing left to give. What can I give?

I love that Jesus used a widow to teach the world what it means to give. (story told in Luke 21:1-4) The world teaches us to give when we have extra. Jesus teaches us that to truly love someone means you are willing to give everything. He demonstrated this when He gave His Son to die on the Cross for us. As widows, worldly things no longer seem as important and we find ourselves able to focus more on the eternal. As we focus on God, giving everything -all of us – becomes our goal and our actions can become the example for the world. We are perfectly positioned to teach the world how to give.

I’m just a widow. What can I do?

Unfortunately, the title widow usually conjures up the image of someone who is washed up and needs to be taken care of, with nothing to give. And if we allow it, that can happen. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have Christ living in us. He is our strength. And in many ways, because of our circumstances we are in a better position than ever to do what God has called us to do.

We are in the refiner’s fire and we have a better grasp of what is truly important, so we can encourage others to have an eternal focus.

We are persevering through many trials and God is making us mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2) so we can disciple others with what God is teaching us.

We are drawing closer to God and He is drawing closer to us so we can teach others about God’s character.

We can pray more intimately because our faith has grown and we know our God cares.

We can speak God’s truth into others lives, because we have lived it and we have seen the fruit that obedience brings.

We can face the giants of this world because we know where our strength comes from.

We can change the world by telling the story of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

We can love as God loves, giving everything we have.

We can trust Him in all circumstances which will bring Him glory!

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for loving us the way You do. Thank You for creating us for a purpose – to glorify You so that we can encourage others to come to know You. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who lives in us and gives us the strength we need. Please give us opportunities to pray more faithfully, speak Your truth more boldly, love more deeply, give more completely and share the story of Your faithfulness in our lives, all for Your Glory.   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 about trust? Two Years and Trusting in Him

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.

Pick Up Your Mat

Then Jesus said…, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

John 5:8 (NIV)

And just like that—one of my closest friends stepped out of my life.

I thought I would be the only widow to say that until I heard it from about a zillion other widows—many here on our pages.

The break happened years ago, and I can happily say she and I have reconciled and forgiven each other. Who knows if we’ll ever restore the trust we had before, but at least we’re able to laugh and share memories.

But those feelings of betrayal and abandonment–goodness, they hit me like a second grief.  I stopped everything and cried my eyes out while she went on with her happy life, surrounded by her entourage of friends I no longer had time to hang with.  While she held her girls-night-outings without me, I was busy raising my boys by myself. At the time I didn’t know why it bothered me—it wasn’t like I had time to socialize anyway.

On the other hand, I now know why it bothered me–old scars from high school.  I was one of those independent types who wondered why I seemed to avoid the deemed “in-crowd” while my sister pranced about in her cheerleading outfit–near the center of attention from that same crowd. I would have been fine with my own nature, academics, if it weren’t for subtle comparisons made between us by well-meaning folks. It takes time and maturity to see standing apart from the crowd as a good thing. Seeing it now doesn’t erase the memory of that feeling I had as a girl wondering why I simply didn’t run with the popular crowd like my sister did.

That feeling got triggered many times during those early days as a single mom. Without a social life and without a husband to boost my confidence, I would sit and mutter over my queen-bee friend’s abandonment.  How dare she?  Why do I care? Why can’t I be the queen-bee? Why does being the lonely widow feel like the one who chose not to hang with the cheerleaders?

When you’ve been kicked in the shins and you’re down and lonely, you start to think and reflect.  Sometimes Satan has a heyday with that thinking and you come up with some ridiculous notion that you’ll always be stuck with whatever hardship life threw at you as a child.

I was taking those feelings of the academic kid not hanging with the popular crowd and applying it to the single mom not running about with my queen-bee’s friends crowd.

This is called victim mentality, and the enemy loves digging this knife in you.  You’ll twist about, taking that pattern of whatever seems to have happened yet again and applying it to every example in your life you can think about.

Unless you pick up your mat and walk.

When Jesus heeled a paralyzed man, he didn’t dwell on why he was paralyzed.  He didn’t have the man lay on the mat for a while and reflect on how much it hurt.  He commanded the man to pick up the mat and walk.

And that’s exactly how I was able to forgive and redeem at least a light friendship with my queen-bee friend. I stopped laying on my “mat” of abandonment and sorrow. My friend did something unkind, but I didn’t need to be unkind back. I could even forgive.  And I could get up and start anew.  Once I freed myself from any bitterness, I could even relax and enjoy her.  I choose not to engage too much with her because I’ve learned where her limits are. And besides, since then I’ve made many new friends who are far more faithful and trustworthy.

Be healed. Walk healed. Christ calls us to be redeemed.  To be born again. To begin anew.

Staring at your mat only holds you back.

Abba Father,

All it takes is a word from You, and the widow reading this can be healed.  Point her forward, not backwards.  Show her what You have in store for her, and give her the healing and strength to pick up her mat and walk.  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.

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Into the Great Unknown   Finding Your Pearl   Blended and Bonded

In Your Steadfast Love, Give Me Life!

“In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.”

Psalm 119:88 (ESV)

 

The waves of grief crash over my heart. I groan in the agony of distress; then just as quickly peace washes over my soul but a longing for HOME remains there. Oh, have mercy on me, Dear Lord! My heart is torn open and I feel numb! Nothing seems to mean anything…

The family on the beach is unaware of what I see as I sit here on my ninth floor balcony.  A mother laughingly videos daddy holding their little girl’s hand as the pair walk away from  her. “HOLD ON TIGHT!” I want to scream at them. Now, the daddy is filming the mother and daughter as they walk away, alone. Will they one day walk by themselves again, without him because they have no choice? Will their hearts break as they watch another family video on the beach? Will this pain I feel ever go away? How can the world keep turning and life for everyone just be normal? My life seemingly ended on April 20, 2012; yet I am still stuck here, supposed to carry on…how? By Your strength and Your steadfast love alone, Lord.

The above is taken from a piece of paper that has been in my Bible since May 8, 2012. It was written just two weeks after my husband’s sudden death. Our family was blessed with a trip to the beach to help us process our grief. This paper remains nestled between  two pages of Psalm 119, where I was studying during that time. It is a reminder to me of how far the Lord has carried me since that time.

It has been almost five years since my first husband died, and never once did God leave me or forsake me.

That sunny morning He gave me just the first of many reminders that His strength alone would carry me through the worst of times. My mind and heart were screaming in pain, but He gently took me back to where He wanted me to remain, enfolded in His arms and constantly in His Word. He has been so gracious to provide just what I needed each day to help me grow in my love and trust for Him over the years. Now He has blessed me with another man to call my husband; but I never want to forget how God provided strength and comfort to me right from the beginning of my widow journey. I leave this paper reminder in my Bible so that I will tangibly touch both my grief and my confidence in God whenever I turn to that passage of Scripture.

Sisters, God’s love is a STEADFAST. In our lives as widows it may seem that everything is topsy-turvy and that nothing is steady or trustworthy. But we know from Scripture that God’s love is ALWAYS steady and reliable when our world is crashing down around us.

I encourage you to meditate on Psalm 119 if you have never done so. It is long, but taken in pieces, it can be a balm to the hurting, weary soul. I pray that you will allow God to bathe you in His words of comfort and to give you the heart knowledge of His steadfast love today as you go with me to Psalm 119:81-88.

“My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise; I ask, When will you comfort me? For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke, yet I have not forgotten your statutes. How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? The insolent have dug pitfalls for me; they do not live according to your law. All your commandments are sure; they persecute me with falsehood; help me! They have almost made an end of me on earth, but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.” Psalm 119:81-88 (ESV)

Father, today I pray that we will be strengthened and overwhelmed with Your steadfast love that leads to life in the midst of turmoil! I pray that it will be so real to us that we want to share You with everyone around us today and every day.


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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