Blocking Out the Sun/Son

Take a second right now and go look out your window. Is the sun shining?

If the sun is shining, grab a quarter from between your sofa cushions and hold it up to your eye.

Where did the sun go? The enormous blazing fire-ball was blocked by a tiny coin!

 

Sometimes in my life I look at my problems like quarters. These are the problems that seem so much larger since becoming a widow. Maybe widowhood magnifies certain things in my life. They block my view of God’s Son–I can’t praise Him or pray or spend any time in reading Scripture because my problems seem so large. I sit in worship service, distracted by the issues affecting my emotions. Life loses any enjoyment because my brain is wrapped up in my problems. 

Those unmet financial obligations …

A grown child running away from God…

Inabililty to sleep soundly…

Loneliness, even while surrounded by people…

Unending sadness and grief …

Overwhelming care for ailing parents …

 

Each of these can be like a quarter we hold up to block the sun.

Reality is, though, that the quarter doesn’t really block the sun from shining.

It is just a matter of perspective.

Perspective…

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us

an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison

2 Corinthians 4:17 ESV

I do not like the eternal perspective of “light momentary affliction” sometimes. Especially when I am in the middle of one of those “afflictions”. My perspective is that it is completely clouding out my view of Christ. It blocks my praise. It prevents me from laying my burdens at His throne. Do you ever feel this way?

So now that we have established that we can block the Son with our afflictions, what can we do to remove the blocks? I know it isn’t as easy as taking the quarter away from our eyes, so let’s dig into some Scripture verses and see what He says.

Psalm 42.  This Psalm is like a page out of the psalmist’s journal. The author asks questions I am very familiar with. Click on the link if you have a few minutes to read the entire Psalm, Here are some of the questions he asked:

  • Why am I downcast? 
  • Why have You forgotten me?  
  • Why is my soul disturbed within me?

The Psalmist is holding up a quarter in front of his eye and saying, “I can’t see You, God! You must not be there!” But as he dialogues with himself, he lands on this phrase and repeats it several times in this chapter and the next:

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him. (Psalm 42:5 niv) 

Is that the same place I land when I remove the blinders? In the middle of my grief or my afflictions, can I stand there and solidly declare, “My hope is in God. I WILL praise Him!”

As we put these two different passages together, one from the Old and one from the New Testament, we can see how the struggles we have here on earth can definitely block our view of eternity. We need to remove the blinders and say with the Psalmist, “My hope is in You.”

Would you repeat that with me right now – maybe even out loud –

MY HOPE IS IN YOU.

Lord God,  my problems so easily block my view of You. Help me to declare my hope in You and take the blinders from my eyes. I want to see my afflictions from an eternal perspective today. Amen

 

Practical suggestions:

  1. Get a 3×5 index card, tape a quarter on it, write “my afflictions can block the Son” –carry it in your purse or tape it to your bathroom mirror
  2. Choose a verse from Psalm 42 to memorize – write it on a post-it note, stick it on your steering wheel or other place your see often
  3. Get on a Bible website (Biblegateway or YouVersion or others) and look up the word HOPE. Jot down in your journal some of the verses and review them often. 
  4. Don’t feel any shame in seeing a Biblical counselor who can help you talk through your “afflictions”.
  5. Start keeping a journal – write down prayers, thoughts, concerns, requests, verses, and anything else you want.

 

 


 

 

Elizabeth kay Dyer, Elizabeth Sleeper Dyer, Dyer, Sleeper

Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

Here is an article by Lori about HOPE.

Liz Anne wrote a great article about Psalm 42 here.

 

 

The Valley of the Shadow

 

 

The valley of the shadow…

What is it?

I used to believe it referred to fear of facing terminal illness, or fearing death itself. And it still might mean that to some. But I now realize it can also mean walking through the shadow of death as one left behind.

How to describe walking through this valley?

Feeling dazed and confused. Navigating a deep, dark, winding pathway with no guardrails in sight.

Fear!

Understandably, my husband’s unexpected death shook me to my core. In that moment nothing felt safe or secure. Our family as we knew it was gone forever, yet I was supposed to carry on as head of our home; to lead our children without him.

For the first time in life, I feared the future.

Initially, fear coursed through my veins. Listening to the frightened child within that wanted to curl up and shut out the world would have been easy. But faith in God and the example of other believers would not let me dwell in that world of fear.

My grandmother, twice widowed, gave me hope to find happiness after loss. And I remembered the faithful example of my great-aunt, widowed through tragedy; she was the one who helped me and countless others memorize Psalm 23 at her private kindergarten.

David gave us words to live by in that Psalm, where he reminded himself to rest in God no matter what his circumstance.

 

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (ESV)

 

David did not get a free pass to go around the valley. He had to walk through it. So did my grandmother and my great-aunt. Now it was my turn. Believers called to walk through the valley will have access to God’s rod and staff to receive comfort. Clinging to that allowed me to rise above the fear that threatened to overtake my mind.

Over five years have passed since I began my personal journey through the valley. Many life events have taken place.

I have successfully homeschooled and graduated four of our five children, bought and sold homes, and made financial decisions alone. I have married again to a wonderful man and blended our families.

God has helped me overcome fear of the unknown and of failure.

Yet fear still tries to raise its ugly head in unexpected ways sometimes.

I attribute that to the valley of the shadow of death, and as a result I am not sure it will ever go completely away. Mostly, it arises now when I hear of someone else facing trauma or loss. Because I know the pain and the fear they are facing, I feel panic begin. It is a sympathetic response on my part. I don’t want anyone to suffer that pain and fear.

Honestly, sometimes it also still shows up when I feel out of control in my own life. I quickly take myself back to Scripture that comforted me before, not just one verse, but the whole chapter of Psalm 23.

And as promised, He restores my soul.

 

Father, the valley of the shadow of death is not an easy place to be. Naturally, we want to remain on the mountaintop instead, although we know that is not possible. We know You are with us on our journey and Your rod and staff do comfort us. Please help us to cling to Your word for the restoration of our weary souls, and allow us to dwell in Your house forever. 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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Love’s Eternal Origin

“We love because He first loved us.”

– 1 John 4:19 (ESV)

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

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

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

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

We miss. We regret. We long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Janene @ Myrtle Beach

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

God’s Unit of a Day

“God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”
Gen. 1:5 (ESV)

God’s Unit of a Day

God designed the unit of a day. Our momentous days are forever etched into our minds and hearts. For every member of my family, I remember such days, either for their joy or for their sorrow.  Regarding my husband, I remember our first date, when we were married, welcomed our children into the world and faced our first death together. We each certainly have many ordinary days and yet some days are dramatically life-altering. My husband’s news of blood in his urine, as if he’d poured a glass of red wine into the commode, was one such day. Many days stand out between his bladder cancer diagnosis and his death. There is no wonder then that Jesus gave us this instruction:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Mt 6:24 (ESV)

Prayer over tomorrow releases us to be in today. 

After my beloved’s death, I felt poorly equipped for present and future tasks.  The reality of my husband’s death permeated my thoughts as I wrestled to sleep at night and awakened without him. How many times I cried out, “God help me!”  I often stated, “Lord, You left me here for a reason. I don’t know why but I trust You.” As I recall the agony of those days, I wish I had posted a prayer reminder where I would see it upon awakening, something like,

“Lord, I give you today. Walk with me through it.”

I know He did and will continue to, but the beauty of this prayer is the daily self-reminder to invite and see God in each day.

Your life and mine is a mixed bag of ordinary and momentous days. I want God, who sees every tomorrow, to hold my life. On review, I recognize times of His provision in advance of what I didn’t know was coming. I am reminded that Christ said, “I Am the Way…,” (Jn 14:6 ESV) and He is! In Christ, I find my way each day, until I meet Him face to face. Christ also said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” – Jn. 10:9 (ESV)

Christ is the Door through which we enter eternal life, but meanwhile He designed the unit of a 24-hour day and is present for us in each one.

May Christ be our door to, and way through, each new day.

“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”

– Ps. 138:3 (ESV)

Dear and ever-present God, You know what each day will hold. Remind us to commit our days and our ways to You. Please meet us with Your grace and wisdom, Your comfort and provision. Thank You, Lord! 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.

Give it to God

The trauma my body and mind went through that day is indescribable. I still have aftershocks from that day and the moments leading up to my husband Michael’s death. These aftershocks trigger my mind, making me believe something awful is happening or about to happen. In fact, seeing an ambulance or fire truck parked outside of a home brings extreme stress that, within seconds, can build to anxiety.

The aftermath of death brings so many emotions – anxiety, fear, anger, sorrow, guilt, shock, loneliness – and these feelings can continue thoughout our grief journey. It makes sense that our emotions are so high. The Holmes and Rah Stress Scale rates the loss of a spouse as the number one most stressful life event, not only because you lose your husband, but also because of the numerous secondary losses.

Sadly, you don’t have to tell us. As widows, we know this firsthand. We lost our husband, our best friend, lover, father of our children, confidant, financial advisor, prayer warrior, spiritual leader, our supporter, trash taker outer and partner in this life.

Whether it’s anxiety over the day you lost your husband, the stress of change or having to do everything on your own – raising your children without their father, figuring out finances – or the loss of relationships that were once close, what do we do when these feelings become so overwhelming that they almost paralyze us?

I attended a Suicide Survivors group and also went to counseling for several months following my husband’s death. I truly believe the Lord places people, like counselors, in our lives to help us sort through feelings and emotions. The time I spent in a group and with my counselor also helped me find a way to cope with the anxiety and trauma and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) caused from it. I use these coping skills regularly, but there are times when they don’t seem to fulfill my heart or bring peace and comfort. That’s when I turn to the only ONE who can.

I find that when I try to do things on my own, I can’t seem to fully get past that moment and those feelings. But when I give those feelings to the Lord, I know He can do more than I ever thought possible.

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

When I find myself in a place consumed by darkness and overwhelming circumstances, I pray and look to this verse. I have and continue to find comfort and peace here. Though I know what waits for me after this life, I have always trusted the Lord would bring goodness here on earth, too.

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm  27:13)

From day one, after my husband passed, I saw this goodness in our son and in the people who surrounded me. God had placed these people in my life, not necessarily for the time I met them, but for that time of need when my world fell apart. And, presently, I am recently remarried and have seen so much goodness that the Lord has provided through my husband Keith.

As we continue to walk this journey of grief, and trauma and anxiety attempt to creep their way back in, let’s remember to pray and give it all to the ONE who knows our heart and our circumstances. Because He is the only one who can heal what is broken.

Lord, Each of us have our own story, but we all have been impacted by the trauma from our husbands’ deaths. Comfort us and remind us of Your eternal perspective. And though, we know eternal life with You awaits, we are confident you have goodness in store for us on earth. I pray you open our hearts and minds to listen to know where You are leading so we can experience Your goodness. 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.

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. 

 

 

Might as Well Do Something

This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.

Job 6:10 (ESV)

How does he do it? The enemy, I mean.

How does satan take a beautiful heart and twist it into his shape, convincing her to reject God and His promises?

He gives her a “fur-lined pity-pot”–that’s how. God-knows where that little phrase came from, but I’ve heard it kicked around in recovery circles. It’s that cozy spot where she curls up like a cat and licks her wounds.

He tells her it’s the safest spot to park herself.

But it’s not!

How many of us have spent at least a season of our time as widows spinning over our painful circumstances, wanting a better life for ourselves, but stuck in a pit of despondency.

There’s a better way. Kick the devil in the rear by rejecting self-pity.

Oh, the joy you will feel when you reject satan.

The impact you will make!  The reward – the everlasting reward to be secure in your place with God and in Heaven!

And while we know there are rewards in stopping the self-pity, we can’t just rid ourselves from it without replacing it with a new mindset.

Try this one: Remember this world–this life–these struggles that seem unending–are but a blink of an eye compared to eternity.

And what feels like a curse to have to suffer in this life has its rewards. Because with discomfort, you are never lulled into leaning on the luxuries of this world for security. Rather, you look to the eternal security of your precious loving Abba Father to walk you through every dark valley.

Job in the Old Testament saw this Truth, even in his misery.  After losing ten children, all his material possessions, and the support of his wife and friends, he sat alone, covered in painful boils. And in his misery he did something remarkable.  He praised God. Just listen to his words: “This would be my comfort; I would even exult in pain unsparing, for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.” (Job 6:10 ESV).

Job had it right. Sitting idle for too long doesn’t get you any further out of your misery. Do something. If you can’t seem to do anything, start like Job did by praising God.

And if you can’t seem to use words to praise God, try action.

Think of it this way: You are miserable anyway.  Might as well get something done while you’re at it! Take action! Here’s why:

  • Actions before feelings – Our culture screams for you to give in to feelings.  Don’t!  Move your body and use your mind as if you were hopeful and joyful, and your heart will resonate with those actions and feel joy again!
  • It honors your Maker – It screams to the enemy, I will not let my loss render me useless, and draws you closer to God and His purpose!
  • Results – You grieve whether you remain idle or start cleaning, but a week later, your house is uncluttered. Accomplishing a task puts a lift in your step.

Abba Father,

Give my sister that small nudge to step out of her fur-lined pity-party. Help her at least get up and begin tidying the world around her as a way of acknowledging You are there and she loves You and knows You love her. Embrace her as she takes small steps and please grow that security in her heart. Thank You, Jesus. 


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:

The Upward Kick

Just One Step

Stepping Outside the Boat

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.

 

Recipe for Rest

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

 

Are you tired?

Are you worn out?

Does your grief exhaust you?

Is “burn out” looming ahead of you?

Do the holidays bring anxiety?

Rest. That seems to be what I want most right now in my life. This widow-life makes me weary. Every once in a while I will text a widow sister and say, “It was fun while it lasted (not really, and she knows it). Now can I have my life back?” I am just flat-out tired. Doing all I do as the only parent is exhausting.

Let’s look carefully at these words of Jesus as they pertain to us specifically.

  • Come to Me: Have you avoided spending time in God’s Word because you are angry with God?  Avoidance of Scripture doesn’t help your weary soul. Ask me, I know… Jesus opens His arms, saying, “Come back to Me, sweet daughter.”
  • Weary and burdened: Grief wears a person out. We understand weary. Add the burdens of life, and we have the perfect recipe for exhaustion. Burdens of caring for aging parents. Burdens of our own health or the health of our children. Burdens of relationships. We have burdens, right?
  • Take My yoke upon you: We need to remove the yokes we are currently wearing. The yokes I pile on are “image”, “sin”, “expectations”, “busyness”. What are yours? I imagine myself with all these yokes on my shoulders while Jesus stands there with a yoke made for me, fitting perfectly. I am weighed down under the yokes I have placed on my back. They don’t fit my shoulders, they rub sores, and they don’t provide any kind of relief for my weary soul. I can choose to keep piling on the yokes of my own making or receive the one made by my Creator for me specifically. That probably includes giving up control–such a challenge for me. What yokes are you wearing that are not from God?
  • Learn from Me:  I need to study His life. He is “gentle and humble”. Probably the two words we need most as a widow, when you think about it. Gentle with those thoughtless comments and lost relationships. Gentle with those who don’t understand grief and loss. Humble when needing help, and we do need help more than ever before.  Where do I need to use gentleness and humility so I can be more like Christ?
  • My yoke is easy and My burden is light: Yokes are heavy by their very nature, so how can Jesus say His is “easy” and “light”? I believe it goes back to taking His yoke on our shoulders. Perhaps it isn’t as heavy as it looks. The yokes I am wearing most days are not easy or light. They are heavy and wearisome. I want to shed these heavy ones and wear the easy, light one He has for me.
  • “And you will have rest for your souls.” Isn’t that what we all want anyway? What we are longing for? Especially during the holiday season.

Let’s follow the recipe He gave us and find the rest He offers. It isn’t merely jumping on a wagon of  “positive thinking” or just faking it. He PROMISES to give rest in exchange for taking His yoke upon our shoulders. Let’s shed the yokes we put on ourselves and take His.

Lord, You are our Creator. You promise rest if we follow Your guidelines. Help me stop looking everywhere else for rest. I want to be still and turn to You for rest. I hand over the cumbersome yokes I have been wearing for far too long. I need the rest You offer. Amen


 

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Elizabeth Dyer lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, a noisy cat named after a German race car driver, and guinea pigs named after candy bars!  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.”

 

 

Looking for another article on peace? Click here for an article titled Applying Peace by Lori Streller.

Looking for articles on dealing with the holidays? Click here