When God Broke Through

This has been the topic at my church over the past several weeks, and it got me thinking: What was my breakthrough “God moment”? 

There have been many throughout my life and through this journey of widowhood, but one moment early on, seems to stand out. It was January 2015, when my husband of nearly seven years shockingly died by suicide at just thirty-one, leaving me in a gamut of emotions while trying to raise our one-year-old son.

Though I knew leaning on the Lord was the only way I was going to survive circumstances of this magnitude, I felt as if I was flailing about. A week or so after his death, still in shock, I walked into the prayer room at our church, and a woman was there. That’s when something changed – she told me to just open my Bible and start in John. “There is hope there,” she shared.

And, so I did. As I started to read, I began to cling to Jesus, and He has been my rock. He always has been, but I’d never experienced such life-altering pain. I gave it all to the Lord – my pain, guilt, anger, sorrow and future and totally surrendered to his will for my life. Having no idea what He had in store for us, I knew He would take care of us and that my husband Michael was with Him.

I also had hope, because of that moment at church that started a series of breakthrough moments, including meeting my second husband Keith – a miracle that only God could have orchestrated.

I did not think remarriage was even possible. Though nothing is perfect, my marriage to my late husband Michael was pretty close to it– He was my soul mate, I kept saying. In fact, my biggest fear in life was losing him. So, when he died, I had no plans to ever remarry. Ever. It was so far from my mind.

Fast forward just seven months later, and another moment happened when I met a gentleman named Keith. He was walking his own broken road, relying on the Lord to get him through. I enjoyed talking with him and knew something was different. I shared I had lost my husband, and he shared a Bible verse.

We became friends, and I resisted anything other than that. This wasn’t my timeline and it wasn’t what I had planned! There were many moments during our relationship where I thought I would call things off, not because I didn’t like and care about Keith, but because I was afraid. However, I could feel the Lord telling me to “just go”. Keith was so patient, and our relationship grew.

Just last month we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Who he is and our marriage is truly a miracle in my life.

Only through God’s grace have I continued to walked this road of widowhood and been blessed with, not only one, but two amazing husbands and soul mates.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Though they can be different, God has breakthrough moments for all of us – moments where He tugs at our hearts to follow His lead, listen and trust. It can be tough at times, because these moments and plans aren’t always on our timeline or what we envisioned for our lives. But I have learned to surrender and listen, and He has broken through – Every. Single. Time. My hope and trust is in Him.

Lord, We know You want to break through in our lives, and we want that, too. But our circumstances can be so difficult. Help us to trust, listen and surrender to Your will 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 view another post by Jennifer? No Longer a Slave to Fear

Read another article on a similar topic: God in the Details

Grief is a Fickle Friend

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

It happened again, on a Tuesday, about a week ago. I was driving to work, dressed and ready, makeup on, prepared to conquer the day. Being a freelance writer, I usually only go into the office on Tuesdays. I was stopped at a red light, and my late husband Michael’s favorite song played on the radio – Whom Shall I Fear by Chris Tomlin.

The first several months after his death, I would break down every time I heard the song. Now, usually, I can listen to it with a thankful heart. But that day, that Tuesday, it hit me – the extreme wave of grief – catching me off guard.

I sat at the light, tears pouring down, trying to pull myself together. I was just five minutes away from the office. “Of all days,” I thought, “I do not want to be late, and I can’t go in there in tears. It’s been more than two-and-a-half years. I can’t be this upset; no one will understand.”

But the truth is, we can be. Grief is a fickle friend and doesn’t just go away when we hit the one-year mark, or two-year or 10-year marks. We never “get over it.” Grief shows up whenever she feels like it – at work, with a client, the grocery store,  your child’s sporting event and so on. And, whether it’s been five weeks or five years since the loss of your beloved, it still happens, and that is our reality.

Though this journey is long and treacherous, with unexpected twists and turns, with the Lord’s’ strength and comfort, it gets better, and joy can still be found. The grief and sadness we have from the loss of our husbands will never go away, but that all-consuming sorrow will, if we let Jesus in.



“You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:11-12 (NKJV)

Today, though I miss Michael every day, that all-consuming, paralyzing grief comes on days and moments that are fewer and farther between. And when they do come, I know that the Lord will be there, arms wide open, to comfort, and give peace and strength. He is the reason I’ve come this far, and though circumstances can be difficult to understand, I KNOW He will uphold me and never let me down.

The Lord never promised a life without pain, but He did promise to be by our side every step of the way.

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLV)

Lord, Remind us to rely on your strength, not our own. It is the only way we can step forward in this life ‘after’. Guide us through the valleys, and help us be at peace when joy comes our way. Thank you for your faithfulness through it all. Amen.

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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.

Another article by Jennifer: When the Days Pile Up

An article with a similar theme: Unexpected Moments

 

When the Days Pile up

One after another. Though it’s been nearly two-and-a-half years since my husband Michael made his way to heaven, it seems the anniversaries and holidays approach faster and faster, and then pile up. The two days that are most difficult, outside of the day I lost him, are within just a few weeks of each other – Last month was our wedding anniversary. Last week was our son’s birthday.

These difficult days continue throughout the year. Sunday is Mother’s Day. June is his birthday and Father’s Day and so on.

It is obvious he isn’t here, but those days – the anniversaries, birthdays and holidays – are such in-your-face moments of his absence. But the Lord is never absent, and He is the One who can help us get up and show up, each day, after our life falls apart. He never promised life without pain, but He did promise our sufferings on this earth would be worth it when we reach eternity with Him.

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

Though we have hope, as Christians, and know we will see them again, we miss our husbands on this earth no matter how much time passes. The pain from their loss will always stand, but as each holiday, anniversary and difficult day comes and goes, the Lord stands stronger. He comforts, strengthens, protects, heals and guides us through this earthly life, until we one day join Him and are reunited with our husbands.

The Lord Comforts. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)

The Lord Strengthens. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV)

The Lord Protects. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)

The Lord Guides. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

The Lord Heals. “and provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

Lord, There are days, especially holidays and anniversaries, without our husbands that can be so difficult, dark and full of despair. Direct us to Your word, and help us to depend on You for comfort, strength, protection, guidance and healing. We know You are the only one capable of transforming our lives. We are so thankful we have you to lean into. 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.

 

Don’t Count the Years!

So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
…Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
Psalm 90:12-16 (ESV)

Years ago I would see widows farther along in their journeys and think, Wow, they’ve had time to overcome and heal. But part of me would worry. This could be a long journey. I was right. Here I stand at nine years.

Nine years.

But who’s counting? Not me. I’d rather make each year count.

It begins by making the most of each day and appreciating the process of life again—that ebb and flow of managing your household, your job, or your children, if you have them.

Next time you say to yourself, oh, I am counting off another year, stop and remember to MAKE this year count using these four “MAKE” tips!

Mash that reset button on your thinking.

Ask God to help you see your life differently. No one’s life is just toil and pain. Purpose and beauty is revealed when seeing your world through His eyes! I have found the words in Psalm 90 perfect for reawakening my spirit for a new day.

Act on it!

Put action to those ideas you’ve always wanted to do. For example, I always wanted to change my fitness habits. But each time I set out to run the course I had laid out in my neighborhood, I’d get winded and emotionally give up. It wasn’t a lack of ability keeping me from running.  It was lack of will.

One day I simply did it. No excuses. I knew for my fitness level, it was possible. My longing for ease was keeping me from action.  Once I broke that barrier, I never looked back. Two months later I haven’t missed a day in my routine, and most days, I run the loop twice!  Action brings on a can-do attitude!

Kindle the right picture in your mind.

Imagine yourself in the process of enjoying your routine rather than the routine being done. I come from a business world full of ten-year and five-year plans all focused on the bottom line, so this doesn’t come naturally for me.  For years I would envision a perfectly clean home. But after rushing around with my kids and keeping up with ministry obligations, I’d look at the kitchen and get overwhelmed.  How different it looked than the vision in my mind.

This is how most New Year’s resolutions end up broken.  Psychologically, when you imagine your goal achieved, your brain has already won a reward of satisfaction for having put it out there.  Once the hard work begins, a normal reaction is to get overwhelmed and give up.

So I changed my thinking in regards to my kitchen. Rather than imagining a clean kitchen all the time, I kindled the picture in my mind of my cleaning the kitchen and enjoying it.  As I pulled into the neighborhood after a long day of errands, I put the idea of escaping into my bedroom out of my mind and replaced it with an image of my moving straight to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher and wipe the counters.  Very soon I was living that image daily and voila! My goal was met!

Energize yourself with evidence!

Evidence of God’s glory in my life becomes fuel for my next day. Rather than praying, “God make this day different,” I now praise Him and ask Him to let me loose on this planet for yet another day to change lives for His Glory!

Lord Father, help this sister remember You love her. Keep her energized and kicking up a storm in this world! Prompt her to make this and every year count!  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:

He IS Here

Decisiveness

Amazed, Anew

Perhaps

When I approach unknown territory, I bring with me a known. I stick to the Lord and trust His wisdom.

“…Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf.”

1 Samuel 14:6 (ESV)

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone, sister? Are you making bold steps with your life as you progress out of the early grief? I want to encourage you to be obedient to the calling God places on this new season in your life.

Every great action in the Bible starts with an idea followed by a hope to win.

But winning isn’t the point. There’s a bit of letting go of the result—a “perhaps”. Every success, from Gates saying “perhaps the world wants an operating system” to Phelp’s mother saying “perhaps I should let my son train for the Olympics” to your husband saying “perhaps that sweet woman might want to have coffee with me”, has an element of risk.

Jonathan accomplished great things simply by being obedient to a calling from God. His father was King Saul—not a very good king because instead of confronting the Philistines (remember Goliath?), Saul hung out with 600 of his best fighters in the hillside. Jonathan didn’t agree with his father’s inaction, but what could he do?

Remember, as son of the king, he was protected by staying with his father among the 600. The Philistines would have to go through all of those soldiers before getting to him. If he decided to fight alone, he’d risk his life.

Isn’t that how some of us are? Comfortable, but with a lingering sense something isn’t right? Hanging out in our own worlds with our girlfriends, career, church or children? Maybe that’s easier than confronting that dating world or a new calling such as a career or ministry?

It’s tempting to stay where you are. It’s what you know, and for the time being, it’s safe.

But Jonathan knew he couldn’t sit. He knew what would happen if no one faced the Philistines. So he left the comfort of the entourage and struck out with his armor bearer to face the enemy.

Maybe you know you need to do a new thing. Maybe God’s telling you, “your surroundings will change–kids will grow up, and I don’t want you to miss the new horizons and new people I might have for your future.”

Enter the “new” obediently, trusting the Lord, Who is your husband and will guide you in every step. When you accept whatever the Lord has for you, you open possibilities for gaining more than you ever expected– You will learn about who you are and make some wonderful new friendships.

When Jonathan stepped out with the right attitude, he and his armor bearer killed twenty Philistines. The rest turned on their heels and ran, all because Jonathan was willing to act on a calling and a “perhaps”.

Who knows what will happen if you go on a calling and a “perhaps”?

Father in Heaven, each woman enters a new calling, knowing the pitfalls and the joys.  Help her know that the insecurities she feels are completely normal and that You have her in the palm of Your Hand.  Help her walk forward with the “perhaps” of a widow’s mite.  Amen.

Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over to Sheryl Pepple and 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 her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle
Other articles like this one: Dancing Through Tears and The Big Picture

 

All Eyes are NOT on You

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10 (KJV)

“Please pray for me to be joyous. I want to be a light to people around me.”

Those were the words of a precious friend who had recently lost her husband and felt the weight of everyone’s eyes upon her.  She was trying to be strong for everyone else, but as we all know, it’s not always easy to be joyous or bold. We can’t simply step over our grief and get to the joy without first acknowledging our struggle.

The “good Christian woman” who handles her grief with no vulnerability seems too high up on a pedestal—an example too perfect to be of any use by others. The times people have seen me spill tears over Tom makes their witness of my pinnacles of joy and bold steps forward more real as God’s light in their lives.

Most widows struggle with these two polar images–the tearful widow and the fearless widow. Do you find yourself wondering how people around you picture you? Let’s explore these two stereotypes of the widow and then decide why neither fit.

The Tearful Widow

When the loss was fresh, the way people fussed over me both warmed me and made me feel awkward. I didn’t want them to stop because I didn’t want to be alone. At the same time, I felt pitying eyes constantly watching me through my ups and downs. Sometimes when I cried in public, I’d worry over what others thought of my tears, embarrassed to be the object of everyone’s sympathy.

The Fearless Widow

On the flip side, it’s also okay to have a surge of boldness and decisiveness as long as your decisions are grounded in God’s wisdom.

I didn’t hesitate to take bold steps to help my kids and me in managing our grief and our family matters. My actions were based on prayer and direction from the Lord, but stepping out in faith had me worried people would think I wasn’t sad enough–like making bold decisions about my future would lack reverence for my lost husband.

You’re not the Center of Attention:  What a Relief!!!

I started to put pressure on myself—to fret over what others thought of my grieving.

Women so naturally worry about relationships around them. Sometimes, it’s a relief to remember that people aren’t always focused on exactly what we are doing or what our reactions and behaviors are. In a way, it’s pretty self-centered to think people are! Everyone is so busy with their lives—just reassuring them how grieving naturally involves a mix of tears and triumphs is the best way to handle what feels like the glare of people noticing us in our grief.

Audience of One

I was only able to be a light when I stopped my worry over what they thought of me. I purposefully stilled the thoughts, as the Psalmist wrote God asks us to do. “Be still and know that I am God.” I had to stop looking around me for approval and accept only the watchful eyes of the Father.

My friend has since decided to do what I had done—learn to relax about what others think and rest in Him as the Psalmist suggests. People expect neither unnatural joy nor gnashing of teeth during our grief. Often we presume people are watching when really, we have the freedom to take time to just experience our sadness. Just acknowledging our pain helps us heal and move on.

Dear Lord, give us a stillness in our hearts that protects us from feeling observed and exposed. Help us to see the attention given us in the eyes You give us through our new creation and not through our flesh of self-absorbed anxieties. People care and love us. Isn’t it wonderful, Lord? Help us to accept that love and read nothing more into it. Give us the freedom to grieve the way You ask us to and not feel pressured to express ourselves the way we think others expect our grief to be expressed.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about being vulnerable?  Here are some articles you might try:

One Million Tears by Liz Anne Wright

Triggers: Your Sister Feels them Too by Kit Hinkle

Inlaws- not Outlaws

…a man who had died… the only son of his mother, and she was a widow… And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  

Luke 12:12-13 (ESV)

“I feel like his family doesn’t want me around.”

This is what a precious young widow wrote to us a few weeks ago.

I hope you have a strong positive bond between you and the family of your husband, but if not, take heart  in the fact that you are not alone.

Whether or not your ties to his family are healthy, consider these six tips for helping you gain a new perspective on the family you have married into. I call them my I-N-L-A-W-S.   I hope they are helpful because, even though the marriage lasts “till death do you part”, after his passing, your in-laws are there and grieving, just as you are.  Perhaps you can become the best of allies!

I for It’s normal

It’s very normal and usual for the in-law family to withdraw. I know it’s hurtful at a time when you need the support and love the most. Look at how some of our heroes of the Old Testament mourned over the losses of their children. Naomi lost not only her husband but also two sons. Oh, did she mourn with bitterness, so much so that she wanted Ruth to call her Mara, which meant bitter. (Ruth 1:20 ESV) Jacob, thinking he had lost Joseph, Simeon, and Benjamin reacted with human bitterness. “And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” (Genesis 42:36 ESV)

As unfair as it is to you, the reality is that his family is suffering and mourning as well, and our humanness will cause each of us to act out in sinful ways.

N for Not necessarily you

Since they are grieving, more than likely, if you’re feeling a sense of alienation from your in-laws, it has nothing to do with you. Many widows experience this. Every situation is different.

L for Level of connectedness isn’t on or off- it’s a spectrum

Some cases the withdrawal turns into animosity, but not always. Each of the writers on our team have been widowed and have dealt with varying degrees of connectedness (or lack of) with the family of their beloved. Some of us are very close to our husband’s families. For many there is a bit of ambivalence—a wavering between love and withdrawal. There are still just as many who discover open emotional wounds developing between our loved one’s families. Sometimes the source of the rift started long before the loss. Other times the rift began because of the loss. Take an honest look and separate what might be a preexisting wound and what might simply be grief.  If your in-laws are in grief, consider the patience you appreciate with others and try to give it to them where you can.

A for Awareness of their grief can help you bridge the gap

I am fortunate. My husband’s family embraces me. At first there was some silence. Then one of them encouraged me that it was nothing I did. It was grief. In Luke 12 Jesus recognizes the pain of the loss of a son. When you are grieving, it might be hard to put yourself in their shoes.

That made so much sense. I was a reminder of what they lost, but I felt like “that stinks!” I didn’t want to lose them just because they were still grieving. So I made sure I reached out to them by visiting often.

Eventually they came around, and now each time I visit there is joyous reunion.

W for Boundaries, not Walls

Many widows struggle with rifts within their families. Sometimes drawing boundaries allows healing on both sides. But try to remember– healthy boundaries are not walls. Unless family members pose threatening harm, be careful about closing the door on communication. Read more about setting your boundaries lovingly here.

S for Stick close to God

Wherever you land with your in-law relationships, stick close to God. Return whatever treatment you receive with love and grace, constantly remembering it’s the relationship with them long-term that’s important. Everyone is hurting right now. What happens today doesn’t have to be the picture of your rapport with them two years from now.

Father God, reach each sister reading this post right now with Truth You want her to know about her in-laws.  Is she to cling close to them for support or draw boundaries or both?  Help her discern the level of connectedness needed for healthy support that is God-centered.  Amen.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about family relationships?  Here are some articles you might try:

Misunderstood by Rene Zonner

Dear Me, Santa! It’s Those “Dear Ones” by Kit Hinkle