How Long, Lord?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

A letter to God after years of single motherhood.

It’s been years, Lord.

My soul is tired.  

My arms and legs are tired.

My heart still yearns for what I lost.

I’m supposed to trust you, Lord.

And it’s not like I’ve never trusted You. When my kids were small, and I raised them alone, You took my hand, and led me through every turn.

But it’s been nine years of raising these children without Tom, Lord.

I try not to count, and when I pick up the count again, it means I’m tired, and  I fail to trust and I fail to understand.

I fail to understand why You guided me away from marrying for all these years when I so long for companionship.

I fail to understand why no simple financial solution has made up for the sacrifices I made to stay home and homeschool my children after Tom passed away.

I can thank You for my support network, the gifts and abilities You gave me, and the opportunities I’ve had to meet potential suitors.

But really, none of that fixes the hole that keeps reopening every time I think “nine years–how much longer, Lord?” 

And when that hole reopens, it’s like I’ve stepped out into the cold on purpose. And I just stand there, shivering with my lonely thoughts and my back towards You. 

But You’re still there.  Reaching out to me and handing me a coat.

And at times, I have to be honest, Lord, I simply won’t take it. I kid myself that I’d rather freeze than take help from You. 

I know what that’s about.

I’ve trusted you before, and You never fail me. It’s just that every time I choose to trust You, it means giving something up–actually giving everything up! Trusting You means letting all else go.

I remember a time four years ago when I almost stepped away from You.  The world told me I needed a husband. They told me You would bring me one. I thought I found one. The courtship was wonderful. I thought You had found a prince for me.

Until the engagement began, and suddenly I felt a frost come in. The one that was sweet and kind while we dated grew chilling as my children and I were presented with his stringent terms of a marriage in a joyless home.

You reached out with Your coat and told me to come on in. But trust You?  Give up my fiancé? The one that would provide a home and a new identity–away from widowhood? 

I was confused and scared–what would this unbelieving man do to the hearts and faith of my boys who were so focused on You?  I shivered at the thought. Shivered, but still stood there in the cold, considering a godless future over what You had to offer.

Why would I even consider it? Thank you, Father, for allowing that situation to get colder and bleaker, until I finally reached for whatever You had to offer!

I stepped out of the cold and into Your arms.

And it’s still hard. But it’s real. You are real.

And when I’m tired and my heart hurts because I’m still without a husband and my finances are strained, I think with gratitude that it was worth it because I chose to follow You and raise my children in You and serve the widows for You instead of following a wealthy man and serving myself.

But still I’m cold, meaning I’ve taken my focus off You again. 

Let’s be gut honest–I don’t always trust You, God.  Your Word says to, but there are times I grow so weary I forget to open Your Word. I’ll instead get caught up in reading Facebook or emails when I know where Your Truth is. It’s like I’m choosing to go back out in the cold.

What’s wrong with me? I know Your Word says to trust You, but do I reach for it? Like this morning as I write this, I’m spinning in circles trying to figure my own way out of my pain while Your Word  just sits there on the shelf.

And so I will end this prayer with this: I will stop spinning and grab hold of Your Word and trust.

It’s not like I feel like trusting You, but it isn’t always about me, is it, God?

Amen.

And as I ended this prayer, I opened His Word to Proverbs 3:5.Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

A new understanding is exactly what I need, I thought, just before the phone rang.

It was my grown stepdaughter. I told her about the chill in my heart. About my questions. Could I trust God? Why this long without a husband?

“Don’t you see?” She began, her words draping over my shoulder like God’s warm coat, bringing me in from the cold. “If you had married that wealthy, difficult man, you would never have gotten that ministry going. Those four boys would never be the kind hearts that they are today.  You would never have had the time or the heart to reunite my brother and me with our four little brothers, and you may never have had the time to show me how to walk with God. I love you.”

I love  you too, God.  Would you please put a coat on my widow sisters as well? Amen.

 


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

If you are interested in having our team speak, please contact us via email at: admin@anewseason.net

Check out more posts by this author at- Kit Hinkle.

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Tough Love

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.  Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 (ESV)

“Teach your children well…”

That phrase from the song by Graham Nash, “Teach Your Children,” sung beautifully by one of my favorite groups, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, plays over and over in my head this morning.

Single parenting is hard.  The responsibility is overwhelming, if one dwells on the semantics, or the situation (in our case, death of a dad) thrusting us into the solitary-sometimes lonely-role.

I honestly don’t know what I would do without God.  The original Parent, Abba, Father, Daddy—He models for us the way in which we should, in turn, raise our children.

The Bible is chock full of parenting guidelines and examples, as well as a few cautionary tales of what not to do, thrown in for good measure.

Nestled among many passages I turn to when Satan whispers to me that I’m not good enough is my “go-to”scripture, Deuteronomy 6.

“Teach” is an action verb.  It requires hands-on involvement, instructing by example.  Parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, and good parenting cannot be accomplished by sitting on your hind quarters behind a comfy desk.

How are we commanded to teach our children?  “Diligently,” a term that means steady, persistent, earnest, and energetic.

We are to “talk” of God’s words while we sit around in our house, while we get up and walk, whenever we lie down for rest at night, when we rise up the next morning—in other words, all the time.  God wants us to know His word so intimately that it is literally a part of our psyche, our inner conscience and compass.

Not only should we talk of His words and commandments, but also we should have them displayed.  I take that literally.  Walk through my house and you’ll see phrases everywhere, from refrigerator magnets to beautifully framed prints, to glass etchings to cross-stitching.  They serve as a constant reminders to my family that there’s something–no someOne–bigger than two tween boys and a middle-aged mom in the equation.

And on days where everything seems to go wrong, if you talk/teach/walk/display/integrate God’s words into your family’s life, you’ll still find so many things go right.

Parents, teach your children well.  And they will return the favor.  “So just look at them and sigh, because they love you…”

Take that, Satan.  I am good enough, as long as I strive for Deuteronomy 6.

Where’s your treasure?

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

Everyone has a favorite place to be, here on earth.  A place where you have peace, where life slows down and you can just “be.” 

Close your eyes for a second, and go to your favorite place in your imagination.

Who’s with you in your favorite place?  What material possessions are you surrounded by?  And, most importantly, is God in the mix?  Is He there?

Friends, we live in the most self-absorbing “me” culture to date.  Look around you.  See who is celebrated.  “Celebrity” is the most over-used adjective in social media.

Lives of the rich and famous (many of which are infamous, in my humble opinion) are paraded over every media source.  Excess in money, material possessions, and life itself is idolized by many.

As a single parent of two young impressionable sons (ages 13 and 11), I, like Mary in the Bible, take all of these things and “ponder” them in my heart.

Ponder is a verb.  An action verb with the following definition:  “think about something carefully, especially before making a decision, or reaching a conclusion.”

Where do I want my sons’ treasures to be?

Ultimately, I want their hearts continually chasing after God, and their treasures in heaven.

How do I accomplish that huge, overwhelming task?

 First and foremost, I must chase after God.  With prayer.  Supplication.  Leading by example.

God is our treasure.   I tell my boys that finding Him is much like going on a treasure hunt (or geo-caching).  To be successful, you must have a map (coordinates).  That map is the Bible.

Sometimes, the destination of the treasure is far away.  You must traverse all sorts of terrain to get there.  That’s our life journey.  There’s good, there’s bad, there’s awful, and there’s amazing–sometimes all at the same time.  It’s all part of the adventure.

And while material possessions are nice, and make this temporal life on earth easier, they are what they are–temporary.

In the journey, hopefully, my sons will find the true treasure isn’t this side of heaven.  But knowing where that treasure lies makes the difficult days here much more tolerable.

Don’t stockpile treasures here.  Where decay, and rust, and moths, and thieves can corrupt.

Chase after the real Treasure.  Connect your heart to God’s.

Your favorite place, the place where you most want to be, where your heart is at peace?  Let it be with God.

For where your heart is, there also will be your treasure.

Father God, help us to always remember to chase after You.  You are our treasure, and by actively seeking You, we find our purpose and meaning in this temporal world.  You give us new priorities.  You give our lives meaning.  You alone are the treasure we need.  Amen.

Loosening the apron strings…

“I prayed for this child.  The Lord has given me what I asked him for.  So now, I’m giving him to the Lord. 

As long as he lives he’ll be given to the Lord.”  And all of them worshipped the Lord there. 

1 Samuel 27-28 (NIRV)

“Give your children two things:  One is roots, the other, wings.”

A gift from friends, all part of a church choir I was privileged to lead, this counted cross stitch resides on the wall closest to my bed.  It’s lovely, done all in hues of green and blue and gold.  I hung it there a dozen years ago, when my first baby boy was just a few months old.

Little did I realize the gravity and wisdom of those eleven words then.

Two babies, both boys, turned my world upside down, inside out, and topsy-turvy–eighteen months apart back then.   Now almost 11 and 12 1/2, they are the lights of my life.

Roots?

Easy.  You give a steady dose of love, coupled with grace, discipline, and unconditional support.  Sprinkle liberally with laughter, and give lots of opportunities for making great memories.

Wings?

Not so easy, especially when thrust into an unwanted new season of single parenthood almost three years ago.

After their dad died, I just wanted to keep my boys, ages 8 & 9, as close to me as possible.  Like a mother hen with two little chicks under protective wings, I shielded them.  We’d been through so much.

Time, counseling, prayer, and the grace of God (not necessarily in that order) have all, in their own way, healed us.  It’s a continuous process.

Both boys have grown by leaps and bounds,  spiritually and physically.

The 12 year old, however, is in the midst of a momentous month.

He completed confirmation classes and was baptized on May 4th.  Proud doesn’t begin to describe how I felt, watching him publicly accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior (he’d privately done it years before).

But the apron strings loosened big-time for this young man last week, as he and 168 other 6th graders, accompanied by teachers and chaperones, loaded up for a three-day trip to San Antonio, Texas.

He had the time of his life.

He got to use those wings, without mama along for the first time.  Sea World and the Alamo will never be the same.

And he returned home last night, tired but happy.  His voice seems an octave lower than when he left.  His stride is more confident, his laugh more like his father.

I am a bit like Hannah, who gave her son, Samuel, to the Lord.

I prayed for God to give me my sons.

He answered my prayers.

Standing with my hands on my older son’s shoulders, as he took the vows of the church earlier this month, I silently gave him once again over to God.

Is fostering wing growth easy?  No.

But it is necessary.

So, like Hannah, I will continue to give both he and his younger brother to the Lord–again and again and again–as they grow in faith.

I’m excited to see how this all turns out.

“being confident of this that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.” 

Phillipians 1:6 (NIV)

We’ll continue to worship the Lord, giving thanks for strong roots.  And mama will continue to loosen the apron strings, knowing it’s a necessary step in the process of growing flight-worthy wings.

Heavenly Father,  Thank you for roots.  They are strong, and they give us a solid foundation on which to build our lives.  Thank you for the gift of our children.  Help us know when to pull back and when to loosen our grip on them.  You tell us to raise them up in the way they should go, and they will not depart from it.  Remind us continually to give them to You, for the course of their lives.  For in You, they find themselves.  In Jesus’ name I ask it all, Amen.