a reader writes

A Reader Writes…

Recently we had a lovely reader write us after reading one of our articles. She had such a transparent heart, we asked if we could share an excerpt from her letter and some of our response. You may find yourself in some of the thoughts she is sharing. We post this here as a reminder, you are not alone in your feelings! Do you have a question you would like to ask? Email us at admin@anewseason.net

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Reading today’s message was  a step in healing! I know I have to let go. My hurt, disappointment, and anger at people and family who have let me down… It hurts so deeply, on top of your widowhood, to be excluded because they are uncomfortable! … But I need to have family and friends. I have already had my biggest loss imaginable! I am growing weary and more lonely. Widowhood is trying enough. Scripture speaks of God being my husband now but He doesn’t physically eat with me, sleep beside me, hold me in His arms, go out with me, give me physical hugs, talk to me verbally, fix broken stuff, take the car to the garage, take out the garbage! …  So when there is no one to love me, how does God help me? I just have to believe it. But it is so abstract! … I need to feel God in a solid, real way! It feels superficial. I thought God would show up concrete, in my friends to comfort me in the darkest night of my soul. I need God in a realistic way. I do lots of volunteering, and reach out to others hurting, go to a small group, counselling, and support group . But I feel like I’m chasing the wind.

***

Thank you so much for writing out your thoughts in such a way, and sharing them with us.  Many of us have had similar thoughts go through our heads — we need a “husband” who takes out the trash and protects us in storms. I can relate to that! Unfortunately, it seems to be “normal” in many widows’ lives.

I personally struggle with wanting God to respond the way I want Him to respond in my timing.  I find it helpful to read the Psalms.  The authors let God know how frustrated they are.  How unjust the world is. How wicked people succeed. But it seems the Psalmists always come back to what is true about God. That is where I have to land every time.  I have to cling to truth, not feeling.  I love my feelings and want to grasp them with all my might… That right there is my hardest struggle.  My feelings get hurt, my feelings are not validated by others, my feelings say that I must not be loved.  But God loves me so much He allowed His only Son to suffer, bleed, and die a horrible death FOR ME. For you.  That is the truth.
If He does nothing else for me, that is more than I deserve right there.
Grace.
Eternal life…
I love it when I find little nuggets in Scripture.  The story of Anna in Luke 2 amazes me.  She was an old widow and had only been married for seven years. Now at eighty-four, she was known for her devotion to prayer and worship.  That right there is what I want to be known for…
If she got married as a teen, like it may have been back then, then she lived maybe sixty years completely focused on worship and prayer.  I have a long way to go in order to be known for that, for sure.  She wasn’t known for anything else.  That puts my life in perspective.  All this other stuff is like icing on the cake.  The most important stuff is right there.
So how do we live this journey with grace? I think we do it like Anna.  It sounds so simple but I know it isn’t. We expect so much out of Christians, don’t we? We honestly believe they will want to support us but they fail us. We honestly want to believe God will take care of us, but bad things keep coming our way. So all I can do is keep trusting God when everything around makes no sense.
Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. Have you seen our devotionals for sale on our website?  It is one way we find to put our thoughts on Scripture as we go through our days.
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If you want to read more on the widow Anna from Luke 2, click here.
More on friendships? Kit has written some great articles here and here and here.

bonnie vickers kit hinkle a widows might trusting god widowhood support

Praise in the Storm

                                 “He stilled the storm to a whisper.”  (Psalm 107:29a)  NIV

Florida summers can produce some truly magnificent skies.  One can witness a blue, cloud free sky change in a matter of minutes.

It starts with the distant rumble of thunder.  Low rumbles spaced out by minutes.  Before you can count the number of rumbles, the blue sky has changed to massive gray clouds and darkness covers the ground.  In an instant, the clouds burst forth pelting the area with rain and sometimes hail.  Lightening then arrives to put the exclamation point on the storm.

And, as quick as it arrives, it disappears.

As I reflected on God’s direction for my post this week, I witnessed one of those turbulent Florida thunderstorms.  It reminded me of the journey I walked along side my husband as he fought the cancer that invaded his body.  A storm that arrived one day with a diagnosis of stage IV cancer and built with a fierce ugly head of complications, surgeries and chemotherapy.  Doubt and despair invaded the space of hope and trust.  And in my devastation, his death was the exclamation point of that storm.  Ending, it seemed, almost as quickly as it had arrived.

But, yet, for me, a storm continued.  The clouds gave way to sadness, loneliness and confusion.  I yearned for the passing of this turbulent time that had invaded my life and my heart.

Thankfully, God holds the exclamation point of my storm and what I do with the clouds of life’s problems.  I cling to His promises and hold to His presence as I move out from under the devastating realization of no longer being able to hold the hand of the one who would protect me from the earthly storms.

                     “I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.”                                                                                                                  ( Psalm 55:8)   ESV

I will choose to praise Him in this storm of widowhood.  I will seek His purpose for me as I walk this path.  And I will rejoice knowing that this is but a splinter of eternal time which I will one day share with Him, my husband and loved ones who have gone before me.  That is His promise, sisters.  We all have that to look towards!

As I seek shelter under the umbrella of His Word, I have developed some thoughts on healing with “man’s time” and why they simply do not work.

  • Time does not heal grief.  It’s what we do with the time that matters.  Remember to address your emotional scars with His mercy and love.
  • Time does not erase the pain.  Tears will fall and ease the hurt, but, trust God to mend your broken heart.
  • Time does not make us forget.  If we grieve with the hope God gives us, we can remember in a positive way.
  • Time does not cure loneliness.  Fill your life with loving family and friends, and always keep praying to God.
  • Time does not cure depression.  This is a normal part of the grief process.  However, we can choose to not linger there as we emerge to embrace the life God has given us.

Time does not, but God can.

 I do not know where you are in your storm, my sister.  I am praying as the clouds break away and the blue sky returns that you can embrace His loving arms of protection, promise and purpose of the aftermath.

Heavenly Father, I pray for Your presence in the midst of the storms we face.  Please help us know that this earthly life is but a mere blink of eternity.  We ask for Your help as we face our grief and the pain and loneliness it brings us.  We will search for You in the storm and continue to praise You.  Amen.  

bonnie

The comfortable life Bonnie was enjoying took a radical turn in the spring of 2009 when the “C word” was introduced into her family.  Cancer.  Her healthy husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer, and life would never be the same.  She was able to live the words “for better or worse, in sickness and in health”, walking along side this fight for life. But after a twenty-month battle, God called him home in October, 2010.  God has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.”  (Psalm 68:5) She loves reading, baking and long walks along the Florida coastline.  A good portion of her time is spent flying around the country as a flight attendant for over thirty years.  In the twenty-six years of marriage, they raised two amazing daughters, who now display many of their father’s traits and teachings in their character. This family of three continues to fight the good fight and live out loud for the Savior.  

 

Want to read more about trusting God? Determined to Bloom by Linda

Where Does My Strength Come From? by Karen

linda lint kit hinkle a new season a widows might widowhood support

Fragile

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge.  Psalm 16:1  ( ESV)

Becoming a widow left me feeling as vulnerable and fragile as an egg alone on the counter.

During the last year of my husband’s life, I had been so strong – working, caring for him, assuming all of the responsibilities – never giving a thought to giving up or giving in. There was lots to be done and, with God’s sustaining grace, I did it all.

Then my beloved went home with Jesus, and my world changed. My comfortable “carton” of the life we built together was gone. And there I was, all alone on that counter, being stalked by loneliness, despair, anger, bitterness, and fear of the future.  The world of widowhood was a hard, lonely place, and I needed a refuge – a safe “carton”.

During the darkness of those days I did two things – I started reading the Psalms and writing to God – sometimes for hours at a time. I filled page after page with my feelings and my pleas – much like David did when he wrote those beautiful verses.

It was during one of those sessions I wrote this prayer:

You are my God. Defend me Lord;

  •  As I go into this life alone
  •  As I struggle with the loneliness that batters me from all sides
  •  As I fight the anger that wells up within me
  •  As I resist bitterness and despair
  •  As I envision a future of empty, lonely days

And He did –  He still does. He has fashioned a new “carton” for me. I rest in it alone and I am still fragile, but I know I am safe as I hold fast to the promise of Psalm 16:8 “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.” (NLT) The nights are not as long, loneliness is eased with His presence. Anger, bitterness and despair no longer have a place in my life.

He is showing me the path for my life, and each day I awake determined to trust Him and hold fast to His promises.

Four years have passed since I wrote that prayer. They have not been easy years. There are still days that are difficult.  It has been a struggle to let go of the negative, but what an adventure, as I have learned to rely totally on my Loving Father to be that “carton” for me – my safe place of refuge.

Father, the grief that comes with the loss of our spouses has left us tattered, worn and fragile. We need You as our safe place. Reach down and scoop us up, Abba, and give us Your peace.

 

closeup linda

Linda has held many titles throughout life– daughter, sister, wife, mother and now widow. That title was received in May, 2011. She felt prepared for her beloved to pass, for it was not sudden. However, she was not at all prepared for life after he passed. They were married for twenty-four years, and he was her constant companion. Embarking into a life without him was strange and painful. However, she takes comfort in knowing he is in a place of infinite joy, free of pain and that wheelchair, to which he had been confined for seven months. In the months that followed, she discovered writing and journaling.

Want to read more about healing? New Paint by Bonnie

Want to read another article from Linda? One Widow’s Psalm

 

kit hinkle a new season a widows might friendship and forgiveness

Friendship and Loss: Forgiveness

Today is our last in a series this month focusing on friendships. We talked about how normal it is to have shifts in your friendships after loss (read it here).  Then we dealt with your friend’s perspective–what she’s going through.(read it here).  Today, we’ll talk about forgiveness and reconciliation. Oh, how we all want that–no matter how disappointed you and your friend are with each other.

Fear not, for I am with you;

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

“I no longer click with the clique.”

Can you relate?

Years ago I sat with my husband by my side watching my pastor’s wife speak these words in a message she gave before the congregation.

“In my heart I want to hang out with the other ladies,” she said, “but I serve a calling that keeps me away. Sometimes it’s  a lonely walk without them.”

I was one of the ladies in a clique she couldn’t spend time with. We’d meet daily with our small children. We shared our hopes and burdens. It was a sweet group. But the pastor’s wife couldn’t join us.  She was called into other roles–helping to lead our church’s women’s ministry and working to help provide for her family.

As I watched her describe her loneliness, I only saw strength and confidence and figured that surely it was worth the lonely walk.  After all, she was following her call, and the fruits of her obedience were obvious. I couldn’t fully understand her pain from my comfortable position within my group of friends.

Until I too got called away from the clique. Just as the pastor’s wife with her call to be in a compellingly demanding role in life, I was now having to be in a demanding role in life–that of a single mom.

Only I wasn’t drawn in with a gentle calling. No one said, Kit, I want you to answer my call and run the whole household, manage your finances and spiritually lead your home.

Instead, the one who was supposed to run the household and finances and be spiritual leader was whisked into Heaven without warning, leaving me responsible for the family’s future.  A purpose, but not one that I took on by choice.

Suddenly, I got what the pastor’s wife was saying.  I couldn’t just hang out with them in the same way.  I was in crisis, and my friends were still in that place of having the time to fellowship often.

They rode that grief wave with me, but some only rode it for a short while.

My heart ached for our lost easy fellowship. For a time it was like another hole ripped through my heart–first my husband, now my friends. I would ask myself:

Do they love me? Yes, they brought meals, included me where they could, called on me and helped me get my feet back on the ground.

Have they hurt me? Yes, but who hasn’t fallen short in this lifetime? I know I’ve offended others. And don’t I expect forgiveness?

Finally I took a bold step to forgive. I met with God in my backyard with a handful of dandelions, imagining each of these pretty fluff balls contained the many many seeds of uneasy feelings about one of these precious woman in life. I held up the stalk of the flower and thought about that friend.  Then, I scattered the little seedlings into the wind, announcing my forgiveness and recognition for her love to the Heavens (names have been changed to protect the innocent!):

“Mary, I forgive you for asking for handouts from my children’s nest egg, and I will remember instead how you watched my children for me and fixed my make-up as I stepped out on my first date after being widowed.”

“Joan, I forgive you, sister, for pushing other friends away from me and trying to claim me for yourself. And then I will remember instead how you brought me to every social event on your calendar because you are a butterfly, and your gift to me was to give me the social life I couldn’t have as a single woman.”

“Helen, I forgive you  for embarrassing me by critiquing my decisions with my children in front of our friends, and I will remember, instead, how you sorted my husband’s belongings with me, holding me close as I tearfully decided what to give away and what to keep.”

With the seeds scattered in the wind, I let the offenses go, welcoming their loving attempts to encourage me.

Today I still meet these woman occasionally for coffee.  We’re not as close, but neither am I wounded by bitter thoughts. The result? Friendships that have a chance of lasting a lifetime–even if they won’t be the close friendships I had started with. I can rest assured that I am not alone. Isaiah 41:10.

Lord, can You bring every friendship into your Grace focus?  Help each sister forgive her sister and accept that friendships can wax and wane over life’s seasons.  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 homeschool mom to teen boys. 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 forgiveness?  Here are some articles you might try:

F is for Forgive by Kit Hinkle

Stop Feeding the Dragon by Kit Hinkle

a new season a widows might a call to prayer widowhood support

A Day of Prayer

Prayer

We all need it. Even your writers! We are widows like you, in varying stages of healing and unique places on our journeys. We thought today we would bring your attention to just a few specific prayers we are praying. Thanks for joining us in praying for our ministry today.

team page 6-2015

 

Katie, Erika, Lori, Linda, Kit, Sheryl, Bonnie (top row)

Sherry, Jill, Karen, Teri, Ami, Elizabeth, Liz Anne (bottom row)

 

  • Today we celebrate with one of our writers who is GETTING MARRIED! We are so thrilled for our Katie who is blending two families into one today. Pray for her marriage to point to Christ in every way. We pray the transition into this new blend will be beautiful and God-honoring.
  • We pray for several of our writers who are selling homes, moving, packing boxes, or downsizing. It is easy to become impatient with God’s timing that doesn’t match our own. Pray for the attitudes of all involved, from in-laws to children to step-children to our writers, to bring glory to God. Pray that God’s strength will be evident to all around us.
  • Several of our writers have children at home. We pray for continued trust in a faithful God that is evident through all our decisions and parenting dilemmas. Pray for a balance between allowing these children to spread their wings and keeping the wings clipped when necessary! Some are beginning to experience an empty nest so prayers for our children to draw near to God on their own.
  • Pray for unified hearts in ministry. We have every different personality type you can imagine! We are solely a ministry to bring glory to God in our healing, and Satan would like nothing more than to destroy all ministries. Pray protection from distractions, relief from writer’s block, and hearts knit together in a common goal.
  • Pray for our writers who are heavily involved in other ministries in their local churches. These ladies lead women to a deeper faith and lead ministries to widows/widowers. Pray for humble hearts and creativity in teaching.
  • Pray for the finances of our writers. Some work full time and some are needing to look for work. Pray for wisdom and guidance from our Creator, who loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves, as we make decisions. Many of these decisions affect our children directly and other decisions completely change our time available to minister. Pray we keep our eyes on the Father and not on our circumstances.
  • Pray against discouragement and loneliness in our journey. We are often weary of this journey without our spouses and we can lose heart easily. Pray for our writers to guard our hearts and only allow Truth from Scripture to guide us, not our emotions.

Thank you for joining us on this Day of Prayer. We would love to hear from you so comment here on our website with your prayer for this ministry or to just let us know you prayed along with us today. We are only strong because of God’s strength in us. This week we have explored this strength. You can read about it here.

 

elizabeth dyer kit hinkle a new season a widows might widowhood support

Turn Back and Strengthen

Luke 22:32 ESV

… And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Do you have a purpose? Do you wonder why you are left on this earth when your beloved was taken?

I watched a video recently on how to potentially add ten years to one’s life. I thought it would include things like cutting out sugar or running marathons—two things I would find very difficult to do! Surprisingly enough, the video included things like having a reason for getting up in the morning or having a purpose in life. I knew this in my heart but didn’t know how healthy it was.

When Jesus was talking to Peter in our passage above, He knew about the testing of Peter’s faith that was on the horizon.  He knew the rough patch Peter was going to experience. Do you believe that He knew about your rough patch? Do you believe He knew you would experience a crisis of your faith?

 I do believe that.

When Peter had walked through his “valley”, Jesus instructed him to invest in his brothers in Christ. Peter didn’t experience his trials just to sit and analyze. He didn’t get through the doubts and denials just to sit in a dimly lit home in solitude. Jesus knew Peter would come through the testing with his faith firmly planted in Christ, and then he was to share it with others.

I have a story to tell that I don’t like. I wanted a different story! Mine is ugly and, frankly, pretty painful. But I believe someone needs to hear my story, so they can be strengthened in their faith. I didn’t experience the loss of my spouse just so I could play the victim or wallow in self-pity forever. The point is that I need to strengthen others with my faith-story. My life did not end the day my beloved husband passed away. I may have wished it did, but God left me here to strengthen others.

I think the healing lies squarely in the fact that it happens unexpectedly when we invest in others—strengthen our brothers. So how would a hurting widow do this?

  • Pray for others: make a prayer list for those times you lie in bed awake. My grandmother used to tell me to pray through the alphabet – think of someone for each letter. Look up prayers in the New Testament that Paul prayed for believers and insert a name in the verses (like Philippians 1:9-11) Paul used his imprisonment to pray for others and write letters. We can use our “imprisonment” to pray for others too or send notes of encouragement.
  • Serve others: find a place in your community or church to give back (pregnancy crisis center, Red Cross, public library, hospital, schools, etc.).
  • Find a walking partner: get a little exercise with a new friend.
  • Social Media: lots of hurting widows comment on our facebook page. You can reply to their comments with your prayers, a verse that has helped you, or some encouraging words. Your comments can strengthen your hurting sisters all over the world.

In strengthening others, we aren’t ignoring our own pain.

We are intentionally exercising our “faith muscles”.

Healing occurs in this way.

Father God, You know how our faith has been tested through all the circumstances in our lives. Show us where we can use our stories of pain, heartache, and loss to strengthen our sisters in Christ. Amen

 

Elizabeth Dyer is a elizabeth 325x325writer/speaker with  A Widow’s Might/A New Season Ministries, Inc.. She resides in Oklahoma, amid earthquakes and tornadoes, giving her ample opportunities to trust God! Her six children, large dog, noisy cat, guinea pigs, and most recently, hermit crabs keep her busy enough, but she still finds time to have coffee now and then with a friend.  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and she loves to share how God is leading her on this new journey.

 

 

Want to read more on finally healing? Transforming Power by Lori Reynolds Streller

Or on struggling with issues in your life? My God-Box by Elizabeth Dyer

Other articles by Elizabeth 

kit hinkle liz anne nay wright a widows might widowhood support

Keep Shoveling

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. – Isaiah 40:29 ESV

It had been three weeks since my husband’s passing.

Our church was having a workday. Keith would have gone. He would have worked with the men, told jokes, and talked about life. Wanting my boys to be in relationship with these same godly men, we packed up the car and headed to church.

We were quiet on the way there, still a bit in shock from the events of the past month.  I was holding it together, but barely.

Then I heard a voice pipe up from the backseat…my two and a half year old, Jackson.

Will some of the men hug me?

My vision blurred.  This is the child who was Daddy’s shadow…and right now he was hurting.

They probably will, buddy.

At church, I explained the situation to one of the sweetest guys I have ever known…our worship leader, TJ. He invited Jackson to help him shovel gravel.

Jackson was so little that he could not really manage the shovel, much less a shovelful.  TJ had to have his hand on each load, carrying much of the weight, guiding it into the correct place.  A job that would have been fairly quick to do on his own, TJ patiently endured. My little boy had male bonding time, and felt the joy of doing man’s work.

Jackson came to me a while later, big smile on his face, telling me, “I helped Mr. TJ, Mom!  He needed me to shovel the rocks!”

Wow.  What a gift!  When I had asked TJ to help, I had not imagined the way he would lavish his love on my son.  My vision had been limited to a simple hug.  TJ took it far beyond that, building a little piece of character into my sweet boy’s soul.

What a metaphor for how God has held me during this entire widow journey!

I am often told what a great job I am doing running our family.  Nothing is farther from the truth! Just like Jackson and the gravel, I am not strong enough to keep track of four growing boys, homeschooling, household tasks, etc., etc. — on my own.  But…I have a Father who keeps His hand on the plans I make, the steps I take…and He is strong enough to handle what I cannot…and takes us far beyond where my limited vision would take us.  Patiently, He guides me into being a better me – not just in spite of my circumstances, but because of them.

Sisters, this journey is hard…very, very hard.  But…God has each of us in the palm of His hand, holding the back of the shovel as we slog through the layers of grief, and the rebuilding of a new life.  Trust Him, Sisters. Take what He has to offer.  And keep shoveling!

Father, thank You for being exceedingly, abundantly more that I can ask or imagine.  Thank You for constantly having Your guiding hand on me.  Thank You for loving me through this time, and helping me to find strength and peace in You.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

liz325

Liz Anne is a homeschooling mom of four boys who enjoys meeting new people, walking, and reading. Since losing her husband in November of 2007, she has felt led to reach out to the grieving. With the help of friends, she started a local widows’ ministry to connect widows in her local area. She is very thankful that, while she is very ordinary, the God she serves is extraordinary. Because of that, she is able to rebuild after her loss. She is not just surviving, but thriving! To Him be the glory!

Want to read more about hope? He Goes Before Me by Sheryl Pepple

Or another article by Liz Anne? Who Will He Use?

losefriend2

Friendship and Loss: Her Perspective

On Sundays this month we’re focusing on friendships. Last week we talked about the normality of shifts in your friendships (read about it here).  This week we deal with your friend’s perspective–what she’s going through.  On the third Sunday in July, we’ll talk about forgiveness and reconciliation.  This subject hits so many of us, and I pray this series helps you!

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32

A dear friend once told me, don’t always assume people say or do things (or forget to say or do things) because they are rejecting you.  She advised me to list three possible reasons a friend did what she did, all of which have absolutely nothing to do with me. Then she said to simply choose one and decide to believe it!

“But what if you’re wrong?” I asked.

She shrugged. “If I can’t think of what I’ve done to hurt her, and she won’t tell me, I can’t blame myself. Many times people are mad for unfounded reasons.  Many times it’s their own insecurities or shame that’s the root of their behavior. They are just choosing to re-pin it on me. What good does it do for me to unearth all of that?”

Wow.  Think of the power in that!

Paul tells the Ephesians not to hold on to bitterness.  When someone has offended you, it’s easy to hold on to that offense and begin to obsess over the why’s and how’s.  But through Paul, the Lord is reminding us that we are sealed for that day of redemption so that you are to build people up rather than think the worst of them (Ephesians 4:29-30). Stop the questions like “Why would she do that?”  “Did I do anything to cause that?”  Consider a range of possible reasons which have nothing to do with you. Allowing your friend some grace, helps the healing begin.

Okay, so your friend didn’t call you in your time of need.  After searching yourself and owning up to your part, try some of these on for size. I call this my SHOTGUN list. Spray these shrapnel of reasoning at some of the baffling behaviors of friends who are grappling with your grief. See if one hits the target.  Warning,: some of these reflect shallowness on her part—that isn’t the point. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and we cannot control that even your friends are all sinners and may simply not be up for the job during this season:

  • S for Scared or Scarred – She is scared to death what happened to you could happen to her, and seeing you makes her think about that. Or perhaps your situation reminds her of a painful part of her past she hasn’t grappled with yet.
  • H for Helpless (in other words, unable to help) – She’s feeling so awful about what you’re going through and doesn’t have the emotional strength to walk with you through it.
  • O for Overwhelmed – She is going through something overwhelming in her life that she doesn’t want to burden you with.
  • T for Trying to be Tactful (but missing) – She doesn’t want you to see her cry. She’s afraid everything she says and does will remind you of your loss. Perhaps she thinks you might be uncomfortable in the old circles of friends. She’s assuming you’d rather not be invited.
  • G for Guilty – She secretly feels a little to blame for your situation.
  • U for Unequipped – She doesn’t know what to say or do around you. She knows her strengths are in other areas, and she’s not suited for the job of lifting you through this valley.
  • N for Not Invested – She’s perhaps not really about helping you. Until this tragedy happened, you provided something for her that she just isn’t able to get from your current situation. So she’s not going to invest.

Even if some of the reasons may not flatter your friend, the truth is, none of these have anything to do with something you said and did wrong.  That’s what’s helpful about deciding what might fit.  Naturally checking in with her helps, but there are times when a friend might be too uncomfortable to discuss these with you.  Ask the Lord first, before approaching her.

And even now, as you first look at this list, turn to the Lord and ask Him to guide you along as you navigate the murky waters of your friendships under the strain of loss.

Dear Lord,  can You help my sister see that her friends ache for her, and their reactions aren’t out of neglect or enmity.  We are all sinners, and many times we are weak and don’t live up to who Christ made us to be.  Praise You  for bringing us friends who are strong enough to rise above their sinful natures and weather the storms along with her sister who is widowed.  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 friendships?  Here are some articles you might try:

Friendships by Erika Graham

Inviting Others into Your Healing Journey by Kit Hinkle

katie oldham happily whole a widows might kit hinkle

Embracing Tough Truths

Be still, my soul. For the mere thought of it causes quakes inside.

Would I be what or who I am today had I not lost my Beloved? Would I be just what I’m meant to be now without what happened then?

What has death done to me?

I ask with insides quaking and this strange, ironically welcomed heart aching. Greater quaking alongside a gratuitous quieting of my soul shaking. The quiet is God’s hands over my human hopes stilling my soul’s shaking.

Would I like myself as much? Would I parent as purposefully? Would I have learned to love the Lord so out loud and listen in sweet surrender to Christ’s calling if my husband was still here?

The answer is ‘no’, quiet and calm yet confident. No.

These, Friends, are the toughest truths I grapple with. Right here in this white space, I write them plain and real for all to read. Then, I hit ‘send’ before I reconsider confessing these truths of my soul. You have these truths, too, don’t you? The tough truths you tangle with confessing?

I sit here amidst unfolded laundry and unmet deadlines.  I wonder what it would be like to have some help. Maybe when my two young girls are old enough to fold I won’t feel so overwhelmed at the end of a week filled with dirty shirts and smudged up sinks. Maybe when I make enough money to hire more help I’ll have time to read the school newsletter top to bottom and write out bills without scribbling.

Maybe, maybe not. Because right now it doesn’t matter.  The mess doesn’t matter in this moment of truth!  I look at the living room all lived-in, couch loaded with laundry, kids content with each other.

My soul, oh Lord, is still! It’s still with real awareness that You made me for more than this mess. Than the mess of single motherhood….of widowhood….of weariness and restlessness. My soul is still, oh Lord, because I’m making my mess of a life matter. No, Lord, it’s not me. YOU ARE making my mess meaningful!

You see, Sisters, God has made me more of who He wants me to be through my lost love and everything lonely, hard and hurtful that came with it. And for that I stand still and hit send without hesitation or hurt.

Just look at all the messy mountains of lies, lost believers and sinful lifestyles God re-created into His greater good in Bible times. Husbands sleeping with slaves. Wives condoning it! Parents picking favorites. Lies. Deceit. Lost souls in sin for 40 years. But His handy-work proved perfect thru it all as He graciously fulfilled every promise made to mankind even in man’s worst mistakes! Jesus Himself came from a long line of imperfect people.

God’s plan prevailed and His promises all perfectly preserved…right down to you and me and our messy little lives and living rooms filled with toys and laundry! His promises will prevail here too.

That’s why we can fully and completely embrace every mess that mottles up our lives. We are cherished and loved by the same God today that then loved imperfect Abraham, Rachel, Rebecca and David. God made meaning from their messes. He made mountains from their tied up and twisted human mistakes.

God served His purpose in the imperfect lives of those who failed and were fraught with human pain because they remained faithful. They grappled with the same tough truths I do today. How God could make something better out of their flaws, grief and brokenness. How God’s promises prevail when we remain close to Him.

So, why might my life be any different? Filled with grief, frustration and struggling to drink from the dripping hose of single parenthood. But full of faith and learning to listen to Christ’s call more and more each day.

Let us remain faithful to Him in all circumstances so He can do His work through our lives messy with mindlessness, sin, struggles and hurt. Because when we remain close to Christ, lean every day on His wisdom, listening to His whispering calls in The Word we no longer feel lost or restless! We feel fulfilled!

All the sudden we are still. Still in our souls because our messes WILL mean something so long as we remain faithful.

You see now, don’t you? With every mess, every heartache, every broken spirit and bottled up, bruised attempt to live well comes a tough truth of purpose. In Christ, you can become better because of your brokenness! Embrace your tough truths with me, won’t you?

The hurt, struggles and stresses won’t fully go away. I certainly still long for my lost Love, lost to a painful cancer that wreaked havoc on his body and our infant family. But, I have peace knowing that God’s promises and plans for me are good! So, yes, I embrace the tough truth that only now after being brought to my knees do I live more purposefully, love more fully and listen to the Lord oh so intently.

Look at your life today. Are you remaining faithful in all circumstances? How is God working through your pain to create a much grander purpose in you life?  ARE YOUR LISTENING? Embrace your life and all the tough truths He teaches you so you can become more of who HE meant you to be!

Lord, as we live through tough truths help us, through faith and trust IN YOU, learn to embrace and love those our trials as they bring us closer to YOU! Amen

teri cox kit hinkle a new season a widows might daryls music makers

Moving Forward

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 ESV

Why is moving forward challenging, at best?

In all honesty, it has been a painfully difficult, yet entirely God-filled, couple of weeks for me. I am three and a half years out from my beloved’s going home date. Nonetheless, I was struck by a grief wave that knocked me to my face and threatened to drown me in shallow waters, as I was moving forward.

For me, it began to become more and more trying, to come home to an empty house and silence. At first, I longed to stay in our home, with our things and our memories, the more time went by, the harder it became. I tried many ways to break the silence: leaving Christian music on each time I left my home; having  God’s Word open, in various rooms, to my favorite scriptures; and making sure I framed my mind for coming home to “empty” each evening, by walking in with God before me. Yet, it began to tug at my spirit….it was time to let go of our home and move forward.

I put my house on the market believing it would sell quickly and allow me to become debt free. After, eight months on the market and two realtors, it finally sold, with a total of less than two-hundred dollars profit. As we all know, things do not always go as planned. Yet, I had prayed through, time-and-time again, and I knew it was what God was asking me to do. He is an on-time God, but His time is not always our time and His ways are definitely not our ways.

If I did not understand God’s economy, I would not get this AT ALL! Yet, I have a beautiful story of an EPIC rescue by a Father who loves me more than I deserve and gives me glimpses of Him, when I need them most. As I was preparing for the estate sale, I went “over the edge”. I was not even aware the edge was close, I thought I was fine. As we priced almost all of my worldly possessions, I lost it.

Mind you, stuff is just stuff, so even though I was going from 2,600 square feet into a 700 square feet, tiny house, I was letting it go. However, as I had my back turned and heard behind me, “How much would you like to sell this for?” I turned and saw a beautifully crafted wall mounted plate, with a blessing of love for all who enter, written on it. I strained for, “NO, no, you can’t sell that! It’s the last Christmas present Daryl ever bought me.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I was in trouble. Tears flowed and my memories overtook me. I was done, face-down, flat out, under the water of the wave that hit me from behind. I was just standing there on my feet, moving forward, toward the beach and dry land, out of the deep waters, and then….then, I wasn’t. All I could breathe in was salt; the salt of a thousand tears. They flowed for five days, before I could stand up again and breathe in fresh air.

God has revealed Himself to me during this time, in awe inspiring ways over the past twenty plus days. I could tell you many but one, one, is a life memory of an epic rescue from my Abba Father. [Abba, it is as close as we can get to the word daddy in English.] As I was walking through my home, preparing for movers, on my next to the last day there, The Spirit pressed me to pray while I was walking through the room where I found Daryl after his stroke. I dropped to my knees and then went prostrate onto the floor over the spot where he had lain. God’s Spirit washed over me and said, “You remember this as where it all changed and TODAY, I’m telling you this is where it will all be restored, and you will move forward.”

There was much more to this story, more than a blog can hold, but my heart HOLDS onto it! Knowing that my Abba is with me, He is watching over me, He does love me, He sees my tears, He directs my paths, and He has a plan for my days.

I made it through, again, and I did not drown, not even in shallow waters. And I AM moving forward, NEVER forgetting what is behind, but honoring it as I move to press on toward the prize which is Christ Jesus.

God, Help us to remember with confidence, You are ALWAYS with us. In Jesus Name, Amen.