Finding Your Ebenezer

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”

1Samuel 7:12 (NIV)

`A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

`Bah!’ said Scrooge, `Humbug!’

                                                               -Charles Dickens

I could have written that about myself early into my widow’s journey:

‘Merry Christmas, Kit! He is the Reason for the Season!’ cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Kit’s best friend’s little girl Natalie, who came upon her so quickly Kit hadn’t even realized she had come into the room.

I didn’t say ‘bah humbug,’ but I wanted to. I was well into year two—one of the toughest of my journey. The reality that Tom was truly gone had set in.

Natalie’s precious little hands opened to reveal a red and green painted stone. ‘It’s for you,’ she said.

I took the stone in my hand, feeling like no response to this little girl’s love would be adequate—feeling like such a Scrooge.

That Christmas I wanted to hide under the blankets until the “Reason for the Season” stopped banging reminders that everyone seemed to have a “Reason” but I.

Face it—I was in my pity party. I wanted to be Ebenezer himself.

…truth is, an Ebenezer is exactly what helped me through that lonely Christmas season.

We think of a scowly old sinner when we hear ‘Ebenezer’. But that’s not what the name means at all.

The name was given by the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament to a stone which marked a moment when God showed up. Back in those days, people had turned away from God for so long, it was a wonder God would want to have anything to do with them.

But of course He did.

He sent Samuel who led the people in prayer and repentance.

But while they prayed, their most dreaded enemy, the Philistines, surprised them in battle. God stepped in by confusing the Philistines with claps of thunder, leaving the Israelites not only protected, but regaining four cities back under their control. It was a long time before the Philistines bothered them again.

Samuel erected a stone and called it an “Ebenezer” (1Samuel 7:12). “Eben” in Hebrew means stone, and “Azer” is Hebrew for helping.  The Ebenezer, “helping stone” was placed to mark the spot of victory as a helpful reminder that God will defeat the enemy.

Author Charles Dickens had turned to Christ late in life and intended for A Christmas Carol to be his “Ebenezer” to those needing to find salvation.

I already found my eternal salvation, but for that holiday season, I needed my Ebenezer, my helping stone to remind me God would defeat my loneliness. Natalie had placed it right in my hand.

I kept her little Ebenezer stone on my mantle. Each time a panic attack arose, I held it, remembering the pure love shown to me by little Natalie, like the pure love God feels for us.

Are you struggling this Christmas season?  Are you wishing you could skip the holidays altogether?

I know it’s hard. I’ve been there. All of us writers have been there. Write to us. Let us be your Ebenezer, sister.  Place this website on your mantle (so to say) and reach for us when you need us.

Lord, would you give each sister reading this post a sense, if not just for a moment, that she is being carried?  Show her that Christ is the rock and the foundation for our faith and healing. Help her know she is not alone.  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.

 

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: 

December…Bah! Humbug….

Christmas is Over: Is a Grinch Still Lurking?

The Ornament Without a Hook

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

The Missing

While smiling and nodding, they ask me how I am doing.  It is as if they are willing my response to be something along the lines of, “I am doing well. The kids and I are moving forward and healing. Life is back to normal.”

Sometimes it feels like people “need” me to be doing better than I really am.  After all, we’ve passed the “One Year” mark, and their lives have moved past our pain and loss.

The missing of him in year two is a strange beast.

We teeter between loving memories and an acute knowledge of his absence.

This painful missing in our lives can at times be so real, so overwhelming, so heart shattering that it feels as if the MISSING itself has become the fourth member of our family unit.  Don’t even get me started on the managing of three distinct grief journeys all under the same roof.  It’s flat out exhausting, and not just for this Momma; it is tiring for all of us.

The emptiness of space our loved one filled is a unique pain, isn’t it? Its severity will waiver; it lessens at times and intensifies at others, but it never fully goes away.  Ordinary life events trigger significant pain.  A pain that is physical.  A breath shortening, heart racing, tears brimming, all-consuming ache.

I answer this question of “How are you?” with some version of the truth I am feeling at that very moment.  I’ve put my brave face on with a “We are holding on” or “hanging in there.”  I’ve bitten my lip to hide the quiver, and answered with “It really stinks, but God is still good.” I’ve even wordlessly collapsed into a few strong hugs with tears spilling at the simple gesture of kindness.

More often than not, I soften my answer in an effort to not burden the one asking.  Probably though, I do it to maintain my composure without falling off the cliff upon which I find myself precariously perched.  Because you see, I don’t get to dictate when the missing of him will overwhelm me.  My children don’t get to dictate when the missing of him will slam them into a wall of grief.  

The asking, while I assume it is hard for the asker, and I assure you it is hard for the answerer, is in itself a beautiful gift.

I hear widows complain that people “don’t really mean it” when they ask how we are, that they “don’t really care or want to hear the truth.”  Hey listen, I wouldn’t want to be the one tip toeing around the land mine that is me in these early months or years either.  Let’s cut them some slack.

I tend to think their desperation is more than just a need for me to be doing well so they aren’t made to feel uncomfortable in my mess.

These are people who have been prayer warriors for me and my family.

They have shed tears over our loss.

Many have had to navigate their own grief in losing him from their lives too.

Some encounter my children on a daily basis and see the odd mixture of healing and fresh pain in real time.

I truly am grateful for their considerate questions.  Even when it is unfortunate for them that they caught me in a not so wonderful moment, my heart swells with gratitude.  Their simple gesture of asking, even when awkward for us both, is a precious gift.  It means they are acknowledging our pain and willing to share our burden of “the missing”, if only for a few brief moments.

Lord, instead of me bristling at the brevity of the encounter, help me choose to praise You for bumping me into people who care enough to ask the question.  Keep moving me forward in my healing.  There is no cure for this missing, but I trust that You can make something beautiful of the pain.  Amen.   

Lori meet us

Lori Reynolds Streller is a mother of two who finds herself smack dab in the middle of widowhood.  She is choosing a life of gratitude by intentionally living this new life well.  She answers to Mom, daughter, sister, aunt and friend.  Her sanity is fueled by daily time with Jesus and a lot of coffee.  Boot camp workouts and running are her stress relievers.  As a writer/speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries, Lori uses her sense of humor and her reliance on God’s faithfulness to minister to others.  She boldly claims the goodness of her Lord in the midst of chaotic suffering. 

If you are interested in having Lori speak at your church or function, email her at admin@anewseason.net.

Other articles written by this author: http://anewseason.net/author/loris/    

 

 

 

 

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

Triggers for Tears: Part 1 (Your Triggers)

When sadness is triggered by every day stress but transferred to you thinking about your loss, be careful. Following this path to tears over and over keeps you in a victim’s mentality and prevents you from dealing with the pain in the present.

A wise friend once told me to follow my trails of tears to figure out where they began. This was in the second year of my grief. Thank God I followed her suggestion. Years later, I recognize her advice as being one of the keys for overcoming grief.

Tears usually start from one of two triggers. Identify which category the trigger belongs in, and you can then deal appropriately with present day stress versus sadness over losing your husband.

Trigger 1:  A Reminder of the Husband You Lost:

Something happens, or you go somewhere or you see something, or the wind blows in a certain way that takes you back to a wonderful moment you shared with your spouse. Your child plays an instrument at a music recital, and the memory of your husband smiling next to you at past recitals has you longing for him and tears start up.

These are healthy patterns of grief.  When you cry over these times, pause, and relish in the good memories, even if they mean tears.  In time, you might find that the tears feel refreshing.  I would sometimes pull out the videos or photo books of Tom at these moments and laugh at the funny things he did, even as the tears spill.

Trigger 2: Stresses of the Day:

Something happens in the present that you’re not happy about.  It may or may not have to do with losing your husband.  Maybe your house is a mess, and it’s hard to get motivated to clean it.  Or maybe the couples in the neighborhood are all getting together for Valentines Day, and you’re not invited because you’re now single.  You start to wish you had the comfort of your husband again because your mind doesn’t want to focus on what’s bothering you in the moment.

It’s easy to drift back to a time when it seems through the rosy spectacles of memory everything felt good and happy.  But rosy or not, memories can’t fix the pain you’re feeling now. And once you start focusing on how you can’t have him back, you become more sad.  You cry. Then your tears validate your sadness. You start to tell yourself that’s okay, because after all, you’re a widow and you’re supposed to be sad.

Trouble is, if the trigger was actually something unrelated to your lost husband, you’ve been tricked. When sadness is triggered by every day stress but transferred to you thinking about your loss, be careful. Following this path to tears over and over keeps you in a victim’s mentality and prevents you from dealing with the pain in the present.

Pick up your mat and walk

If you notice your tears started because of normal daily stress, and you’ve allowed it to transfer to grief, you can stop and recognize it’s not a healthy grieving pattern and deal with what’s happening. How?  Ask Christ to heal you for just that day, just that moment.  Ask Him to put you on your feet so you can deal with this current problem and not tie it to grief. Ask for the miracle. It’s like the crippled man laying on a mat in John 5:8. Jesus directed him to pick up his mat and walk.  In that moment, the man was healed.  But the healing would never have been known until the man got up and walked.

Are you getting up?  When you know the tears are not about missing him, but about the stress of normal life activity, treat it as such.  Sometimes that means you get up, pick up your mat, and walk! Push through the lack of motivation and clean your house, no matter how much work it is. Or accept that it is lonely on Valentine’s Day without a spouse, so you should make alternative plans—go see a movie with another single lady.  Be constructive rather than sitting in the pity.  It’s okay to cry, but wait for the healthy grieving moments to really indulge in tears.  There will be plenty of opportunities!

Father God, give my dear sister confidence in her approach to life during this difficult season.  Help her to have grace with herself and simply cry when she feels led to cry and push forward boldly when You are speaking to her heart, asking her to get up, pick up her mat and begin to walk.  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 battling satan?  Here are some articles you might try:

Oh Those Tears by Liz Anne Wright

Tears in a Bottle by Kathleen Beard

 

Something Else to be Afraid of

An anonymous phone call tipped me off to my first husband’s affair.

It happened years before I met Tom. And even though I now know the Lord was preparing the way for a new life and marriage, I remember that slap-in-the-face as though it just happened.

I recall dropping the phone and dashing out of my office into the cool October air.

I didn’t stop there. I got in my car and drove away, beating back tears.  With nowhere to go, I stopped at a phone booth and called Joyce—my no-nonsense, stay-cool-through-any-storm friend.

I sobbed.  “This is my worst fear, and now it’s happened!”

The pause on the other end told me Joyce was praying over what words to use.   The ones that slipped off her tongue might strike you as uncaring, but they were perfect. “Well, I guess you’ll just have to find something else to be afraid of.”

Her words sunk in.  For years I tried to be the best wife to that man, but secretly harbored a sense that he had one foot out the door.  Was I trying to please him out of faith or fear? What wasted time and effort! Had I stopped placating to him, he might have respected me. He might have changed his heart towards making a strong marriage.  Or maybe not, but at least I would have been operating as the complete woman God made me to be. I wouldn’t have a nagging feeling that my jellyfish spine had something to do with my marriage falling apart.

How about now, as we find ourselves widowed? Are we avoiding our worst fears and setting ourselves up for future regret?

When people ask, “What’s your worst fear?” We think loss or trauma, but if we’re honest, sometimes it isn’t the big stuff that we fear most.  After all, as widows, we’ve already experienced the worst. Real fears are rooted in insecurity. Are we good enough or accepted?

When Joyce told me to find something else to be afraid of, I chose to stop being afraid altogether and trust God. And trusting God meant fearing Him as well.  The bible mentions the word fear over 300 times in reference to God.  But does it mean to be afraid or to just recognize God’s almighty power?  (here’s a great reference from Christianity Today). I never wanted anything to shake me like the betrayal from my first husband did.  I wanted to be absolutely positive that I knew who I was at the core of my being so that whatever is going on around me, I still feel accepted, cherished, powerful.

And I do.  Oh, the deceiver tries to scare me, but I know the signs of his presence.  It’s gnawing anxiety….  I’m alone, I’m overwhelmed, my kids don’t have a father, I can’t do this, are the kids getting what they need?  Am I messing up?  Will I ever find another companion?

Anxieties whirl and whirl until I say…

Stop.

These are feelings, not truth.  I refocus on the Truth of Scripture.  I am loved in the Lord.  Through Him, I’m unstoppable, because He does all I can’t. He will be the father of my boys, my husband.  He cherishes me and loves me, and I will respond with obedience.  I will ignore anxious thoughts—endure them as a sort of pain like a steady leg cramp and get to work… one foot in front of the other. I will act according to His Grace. I will do all those things I would do as if I were loved and cherished, not because I feel loved or cherished, but because I know I am loved and cherished. It’s truth, and I believe it, so my feet and hands and mouth follow my beliefs, in spite of any lingering anxiety the deceiver tosses at me.

I stop pacing the house and grab a deck of cards and hang out with the boys.  I pull out five bibles—one for each of us, put on Christian music, and have quiet reading time in the Word with the boys followed by prayers.

And guess what, the boys LOVE it.  “Thanks, Mom. Can we do this every day?” My heart fills with centered, clean joy.  I’m back.  I remembered who I am.

The world sees widow, but when I remember who I am, in that moment, I’m not the pitiful widow. I’m Kit, a woman of God.

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 battling satan?  Here are some articles you might try:

Heart Specialist by Erika Graham

The Waiting Room by Sherry Rickard