Part Three: The Future is Now

By Kitty Hinkle

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

(Exodus 3:11, NKJV)

Do you ever feel like saying, “who am I?” like Moses did? Do you ever feel like you’re so mired in the day to day of managing life without your spouse that it’s hard to see beyond it?

Yesterday I wrote about how surprised I was at being able to put into words plans for a future beyond kids.

If you are just visiting this week for the first time, try starting at Part One and continue until you reach today’s posting.

Here are the five parts to this series:

Part 1 :  The Question

Part 2:  My Heart’s Answer

Part 3:  The Future is Now

Part 4:  My thoughts on my Friend’s Answer—Whose plans?

Part 5:  The Stretch—So don’t make plans?

 

Three years ago I couldn’t imagine a future without Tom. How did I manage to form a plan in my heart while caught up in the job of raising four kids?

Caught up is an understatement. I’m sure you’ve had a lot on your plates too. When we’re left with kids to raise alone and family affairs of the deceased spouse to untangle and manage, the process of life can become arduous and slow.  You might have a hard time seeing a vision or purpose beyond the daily mundane.

I bet Moses felt that way. Last week at our church, a pastor pointed out the frustration Moses must have felt when he first left Egypt. He had been trained as a prince of Egypt only to spend forty years as a simple shepherd. As he tended sheep and wondered over his unused princely skills, I bet he didn’t realize the changes going on inside of him. Author/speaker Michael Kelley wrote a fabulous article about desert experiences and how God uses them in your life to prepare you for something.  You might want to read it here.  He explains how forty years in the Sinai desert as a shepherd softened Moses’ heart and prepared him for the years ahead when he led his people through the same desert.

There are times when I get lost in the tasks of the day and wonder if I can ever see the light at the end of the tunnel.  But it’s in those tasks where God is working on my future plan, not holding my plan back.

When I raise the boys with a God focus, the values I want to see in the boys are the same values I need for a healthy future for myself. By applying those values to them, I’m equally building them in myself.  It’s kind of like Moses, in carrying out his duties as a shepherd year after year, shed his prideful nature and strengthened his surrender to the Lord.  Applying God’s values to the kids is strengthening my values and vision for a future. Here are some examples:

  • Writing – The written word is precious to me and gives me that creative outlet. I’ve encouraged the boys to begin writing. In turn, they’ve encouraged me to finish my novel’s draft manuscript and take on as many writing projects as I can handle.  Who knows what career can come from that?
  • Travel and mission work– I want my boys have travel experiences, so I take them all over the country.  I’m adding mission work to the travel because it’s so important to build the character of service in the boys. Next month I take my boys to an Appalachian mission trip. We serve in soup kitchens every few weeks and I help out with the Youth team at church.
  • Forethought and planning – We needed to support our mission trips so I’ve started a small fund raising operation. I want my boys to learn how to think ahead and plan for the future, so I talk with my teens a little about our finances.  It’s gotten me planning my own financial future.
  • Health and Wellness – I want to keep up with the boys and be strong so I take them with me to the YMCA where I do a Pilates workout several times a week.

Do you see how settling into my role raising the boys put into place some of the building blocks for a future? When my friend asked about my future plans, I only leaned on what’s been developing inside of me through where the Lord has placed me.  Really, the future beyond my raising boys shouldn’t wait.  It starts with how I’m raising the boys.

I sat at the restaurant with my friend—my thoughts spilled all over the table.  They seemed so clear to me as I spat them out, but now out in the open they seemed lost in the confusion of clanging dishes and background music.

My friend scratched her head.  She seemed to think something was missing. “But what about a career?” she asked.  More on that tomorrow.

Now on to Part 4:  My thoughts on my Friend’s Answer—Whose plans?

Your Future is Now – Part Two: My Heart’s Answer

By Kitty Hinkle

I love that scene from Gone With the Wind when Rhett Butler covers the eyes of the horse, and the horse pulls the carriage carrying Scarlett, Pricilla, Melanie and a newborn baby away from the flames of burning Atlanta.

Yesterday I told you my friend posed a challenging question. She wanted to know exactly what my plans are for my life once I finished raising the kids. If you are just visiting this week for the first time, try starting at Part One and continue until you reach today’s posting.

Here are the five parts to this series:

Part 1 :  The Question

Part 2:  My Heart’s Answer

Part 3:  The Future is Now

Part 4:  My thoughts on my Friend’s Answer—Whose plans?

Part 5:  The Stretch—So don’t make plans?

Now, on with Part 2

I surprised myself at how quickly my answer came. Without a beat the vision spilled off my lips, right down to places I would travel, writing projects I would take on, mission work, and health and lifestyle goals. The details here aren’t important. What’s significant is the clarity I have in my heart for a future I hope for.

I know how that clarity developed, and that’s what I wanted to share with other widows who may not recognize a valuable part of their struggles.

In the first few years of widowhood, I found myself in an alien world, like Keats’ description of Ruth “standing amid alien corn” and like the horse in burning Atlanta.

Think about Ruth, and think about the horse. Each could have easily met a tragic ending if they put their focus on their plight. Ruth could have panicked and dug herself deeper into poverty. The horse was already panicking over the flames. He kicked up his front legs almost toppling the carriage with the women and the newborn baby in it. Isn’t that a picture of how destructive it can be when we go to pieces over our losses in life?

Ladies, I have seen this over and over again. Someone faced with a surprising blow in life like death of a spouse or divorce gets mired in self-pity or anxiety, only digging deeper into trouble because rather than stepping away from the flames, they sit and spin in it.

I love what the writer of Gone with the Wind does with this scene. Rhett wraps his coat around the eyes of the horse so that the horse can no longer see the flames. It’s so touching to see the horse, with no choice but to follow the lead of Rhett Butler, walk right through the flames and pull the carriage to safety.

When you find yourself overwhelmed with more on your plate than you wanted, try letting God wrap your eyes and blind you from the chaos and lead you. Simply walk forward, obediently, trusting God is in control of your steps, no matter how difficult without a husband. Slow down. Spend more time in the Word. Surround yourself with Godly friendships where you can bounce off of them what you think you hear the Lord telling you to do and hear solid Christian perspectives echoing back. Then obediently walk the steps the Lord has told you to walk, blind to the flames around you. The fruit of that surrender comes out when suddenly you can see, with clarity, life outside of burning Atlanta.

Maybe you’re wondering how clarity on you future can emerge from simply obeying God in your current circumstance. Please add to the discussion and let me know if you have experienced it. Come back tomorrow when I walk you through how living obediently today prepares you for tomorrow.

Now on to Part 3:  The Future is Now

Your Future is Now – Part One: A Question

By Kitty Hinkle

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

Matthew 6:25 (NKJV)

I love getting together with this one friend of mine. Her conversation stretches me because she is both warmhearted and driven—an uncommon combination. She loves to get me drawn into deep discussions over life, career, and purpose. This time she posed a question, which both encouraged and challenged me. Being able to answer with no hesitation comforted me. Perhaps I’m more in tune with where God wants me at this place in my life than I thought. But then it challenged me. Maybe I need to stretch my ears more towards the Lord and begin listening more for His future plans.  Between the encouragement and challenge, a gentle reminder from the scripture called in my heart.  It was Christ’s words about worry in your life.

I’d like to take the opportunity this week to walk you through my friend’s question and what it really means to plan for the future while leaning on God for your direction.  I hope you’ll join us on A Widow’s Might.  Share in the discussion and stretch your own ideas about considering where you are today and looking hopefully and positively into the future.

Please return each day and follow the following parts to this series:

Part 1 :  The Question

Part 2:  My Heart’s Answer

Part 3:  The Future is Now

Part 4:  My thoughts on my Friend’s Answer—Whose plans?

Part 5:  The Stretch—So don’t make plans?

First the question.  She asked me quite directly, Kitty, what are your future plans for you when your sons have moved out of the house? What do you see yourself doing 8-10 years from now and beyond?

Ladies, does a question like this bring anxiety to you, or are you settled enough in your heart to go about answering it without the least bit of anxiety?

Most likely your answer is somewhere in the middle.  It’s only natural to feel nervous about the future, especially if your loss is fresh.  If you have only recently lost your spouse, please know that in the initial phases of grieving there is room for sobbing fully and feeling at a loss of comprehending any future. Please know that and consider these discussions as encouragement that there will be a time when you will be prepared to manage your future, but grieving fully is something that must be accomplished first. Keats put it so well in his Poem Ode to the Nightingale when he referred to the widow Ruth in scripture.  He wrote:

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien corn.

Wow, doesn’t Keats’ words strike exactly how you feel at least at times as a widow?  Standing in tears amid the alien corn?  I imagine Ruth in a foreign land standing in the field gathering crumbs after the field hands had their share, looking for scraps just to keep her mother-in-law and her sustained.  No plan at all for the future. Many painters have considered the truth of Ruth’s pain and captured with their brushes the moment of her standing in alien fields.

But the whole intention of Keats’ poem about the nightingale is in the bird’s song.  He imagines a nightingale singing to Ruth, comforting her in her pain.  Interesting that Keats chose the nightingale, a sweet bird, like the sparrow Jesus chose to illustrate how He wants you to treat your life. Light and carefree, like the sparrow.

He doesn’t suggest it.  He commands it, dear sisters in Christ. His words, “but I say to you” sets an expectation in us.  The discussion is, what is your response to His command.  Please share in the discussion, and then come back tomorrow as we talk about our response.

Now on to Part 2:  My Heart’s Answer

I’m Still Here

By Danita Hiles

I am writing this October 2, 2010.  For me it is a day that marked the dividing line between before and after.  The day my husband died of a sudden heart attack.   It has now been seven years today since the phone call that changed our lives forever.  Seven years?   Some day it feels like forever, other days it feels like yesterday.   I have a hard time remembering things about Dave like I used to –the memories are like a photograph that has started to fade with time, with gently blurred edges and colors that all being to melt together.  Sometimes I hate that, but mostly I think that is a good thing – the raw emotion of the first days, months and years would be hard to sustain for any length of time.

A few weeks ago, I shared about ‘dealing with days’.   Today is one of those ‘ days’.   But today I am choosing to deal with the day very simply.

I am just going to live.

You see, somewhere along the valley of the shadow of death, I came to a startling realization:

I’m still here.   I know, pretty obvious, right?

But if I’m still here, God obviously is not finished with me yet.   And He has given me another day to live for Him.

So on this day of unspeakable memories I am going to put extra cream in my coffee and spend some time coloring with my nine-year-old.   I am going to take a ridiculously cute puppy named Lola for a long walk and trim a few overgrown bushes.   I am going to look up into a blue Florida sky and breathe in deeply.   I am going to take my fifteen-year- old daughter on a mommy date to the movies and stay up late talking about boys and  stuff.  I am going to live.

Kit wrote so beautifully on the’ bout with doubt’ last week.  There is a time for God led- grieving, time for tears, time for gulps of remembering and feeling a desperate longing for what our kids are missing.  But none of that swirling emotion is what we stand on.  As she stated, the only thing we can possibly stand on is the truth of God’s word.

I don’t have an answer to a lot of life’s why’s, but I do know this:  ‘I know in whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have entrusted to Him for that day.”   2 Tim 1:17

I believe Him.  He is able.

Because of those facts, we can go on.  And live.

In Acts, Paul writes of his journey, “And so I go on, not knowing what will happen to me next but simply being led by the Spirit. Though hardships come my way, yet none of these things move me, neither do I count my life as dear…only that I might finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace”. Acts 20:22-24

Wondering what your purpose is?

It’s right there in that last line- ‘that I might complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me, the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’.

Precious sister, you’re still here.

Just by getting out there and living, you are fulfilling your God given destiny.  Your very life is a testimony to the gospel of His grace.

Now go live it.

The Bout with Doubt: Part Five – Freedom to Greive Healing Tears

By Kitty Hinkle

If you’re coming to us for the first time this week, begin with the part one of our posting on The Bout with Doubt- Part One:  Occasional Wallow or Habit? After reading the introduction to the series, follow through each part of the series as we walk through the steps of eliminating the habit of unhealthy anxiety.

Step one: Recognizing habitual tears (Tuesday’s posting)

Step two: Observing the habit (Wednesday’s posting)

Step Three: Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)Step Four: Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)

The more I heal from the loss, the easier it has become to recognize and welcome the tears at a moment when I know God wants me to work through something. I recognize it by listening only to God- feeling that connection and feeling His encouragement as I grieve.

Sometimes I crawl into bed at night with my laptop and flip over to the youtube video I uploaded. It’s a video tribute to my husband put to the song, Captain Sunshine.  You’re welcome to check it out here.

It’s been three years, so usually when I look at it, I have warm thoughts and a sad smile and that is it.  But there are those days where a surge of sadness comes over me as music plays and I erupt into tears.  I’m sobbing heaving tears, but I’m feeling relief—peaceful and healing. It’s God led grief, and I know it.

My prayer is that all of us lean more on the tears that heal the wounds.

Dear Lord, there are many reasons for tears when we grieve. Even patterns that may turn habitual are part of the grieving process.  You made each of us with specific design, and the grieving of a loss has to take its own particular path through each of our hearts.  I pray, Lord, that somewhere in all the different perspectives we’ve covered on the bouts of tears this week, someone finds Truth to help her better understand her tears so she can embrace her grief as a part of Your healing.

The Bout with Doubt: Part Four – Chasing Away the Enemy’s Lies with Truth

By Kitty Hinkle

“I’ve been here before, and these lies have been exposed before.  These are only feelings, not truth.  I know the Truth.”  …  Push through it.  Get up and get something done.  …  The enemy packs his bag and leaves your mind.  You’re better.

If you’re coming to us for the first time this week, begin with the part one of our posting on The Bout with Doubt- Part One:  Occasional Wallow or Habit? After reading the introduction to the series, follow through each part of the series as we walk through the steps of eliminating the habit of unhealthy anxiety.

Step one: Recognizing habitual tears (Tuesday’s posting)

Step two: Observing the habit (Wednesday’s posting)

Step Three: Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)

Step Four: Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)

Sometimes for me, even after three years of going it alone, a bout of tears will hit.  I think it hits everyone. Widowed or not, life can be tough.  My typical weak moment comes occasionally and unexpectedly.  When it does, it’s usually at about three in the afternoon when all points of stress converge on a single mother with four kids and no living parents to help raise them.

Let me describe it to you and see if you relate.  Feel free to skip on down past this description because it’s quite a pity party (smile)—one I don’t like to share because I hate complaining. Here it goes…  I’m tired. All four kids pull me in four directions—someone needs to be picked up from school, another has a huge project due, and the younger two keep climbing that tree in the front yard that’s not meant to hold their weight (as the neighbor has so “politely” told me)!  The dog just swallowed another sock and the laundry needs folding before it wrinkles.  The microwave’s broken and the countertop has a crack in it.

If that isn’t enough to tear my hair out, the longing for the life before widowhood creeps in. It hits in the form of rejection. It’s in the air, something in the change of the weather that triggers some memories. Maybe it’s the certain time of the year when one of those couple friends my hubby and I hung with has a party.  We used to go every year to it. Without a husband, the invitations stopped coming.  I glance at the calendar and my blood pressure goes up.  Why can’t they at least invite me?  Let me decide if I don’t want to be a fifth wheel?  I feel alone and abandoned.  I start grasping to remember who’s called recently.  The phone only rang today with routine stuff—nothing social.  But then I tell myself, who needs the social?  There are kids to raise, work to do.  I don’t have time for social, and the last time I went to one of those gatherings where everyone had a husband but me the fellowship with others didn’t satisfy me in the way I long for.  It doesn’t wake up every morning by my side and make life plans with me. Oh how alone. My life is just work.  Toil. Kids. Repairs.  Why does everyone else get to have a companion?  Why am I stuck being alone? The pain.  The void.  It’s so ugly.

Okay, I’ll stop.  This is embarrassing!  Perhaps I’m hard on myself, but I think I sound ridiculous!  I do go through those bouts of wallowing, but here’s where I’ve changed.  I’ve learned to recognize how ungodly and full of lies those thoughts are.  And having already observed those thoughts as a habit, I can take a further step to eliminate them.

What I do is remember the last time I felt this way.  I remember how it blew over and I looked back and realized what a lie it was.  I know the truth.  I’m not alone. Not abandoned. My friends and I connect a lot and like me, they have busy days. That couple didn’t invite me because they didn’t want me to be uncomfortable at a gathering of couples—it’s not rejection.  My life isn’t just toil. It has huge significance and purpose and I laugh a lot.  I do get breaks from the kids.  And as far as a companion, if it’s a longing in my heart, God will give me a companion.  I’ll trust.

So what to do with the pity party? I stand on Truth.

I’ve learned to sing one of my favorite hymns and focus on the words “Morning by morning new mercies I see.”  Yes, it’s “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.  Don’t you just love that song?  Click on the link I’ve made and listen to three young a capella singers’ casual, but gorgeous rendition. When Thomas Chisholm wrote the lyrics in the mid 1900’s, he was inspired by Lamentations 3:22-23 “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

When we are at our darkest hour, we remember that the sun will come up and His mercies are new and the Truth will obliterate the self-pitying lies we are so susceptible to.

A few weeks ago when we all shared honestly the moments of wallowing, I loved that post and its realness. I thought about this song because it’s the rejuvenation through new mercies every day that reminds me I will survive even those dark moments.

One final word and then I’ll close here with the chorus to that hymn.  Come back tomorrow to hear how driving out the enemy allows you to cry the kind of tears of grief that brings restoration and comfort.

Here’s the final thought.  God loves you.  He will bring you joy and love and companionship to fill your needs. When you’ve had a good wallow and you get to that point when you ready to get up from the tears, repeat that truth written in bold face above out loud.   If it doesn’t pull you out, repeat it again.  Then, begin to “Act as if”.  It’s a great trick.  Try it.  It tricks Satan—foils his ploy.  You look at the feelings you have and you simply state, “I’ve been here before, and these lies have been exposed before.  These are only feelings, not truth.  I know the Truth.”  Then move forward.  In spite of the pain.  You “act as if” you weren’t in pain even though you feel it.  Push through it.  Get up and get something done.  Wash the dishes.  Get those clothes put away.  Play monopoly with the kids.  God smiles on that.  The enemy packs his bag and leaves your mind.  You’re better.

Great is Thy faithfulness,

Great is Thy faithfulness,

Morning by morning new mercies I see:

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

The Bout with Doubt: Part Three – Observing the Habit

By Kitty Hinkle

“You can begin to embrace your sadness in an observant way and then step aside and let it dissipate.”

If you’re coming to us for the first time this week, begin with the part one of our posting on The Bout with Doubt- Part One:  Occasional Wallow or Habit? After reading the introduction to the series, follow through each part of the series as we walk through the steps of eliminating the habit of unhealthy anxiety.

Step one: Recognizing habitual tears (Tuesday’s posting)

Step two: Observing the habit (Wednesday’s posting)

Step Three: Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)

Step Four: Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)

Yesterday we had the discussion about healthy grieving tears and a habitual pattern of anxiety. If you listen to what’s going on inside as you shed tears and talk it over with the Lord, He’ll reveal to you whether you’ve developed a habit of unhealthy self-doubt.  I know I’ve had those habits in the past.  At one point a friend offered this advice on breaking a habit.  Don’t assume you can stop the worry and anxiety on your own strength and overnight.  Do the following instead: When you find yourself in an episode of unhealthy negative thinking, just notice the pattern.  Label it.

I thought her advice was interesting. She didn’t put pressure on me that the tears of worry I relied on as a crutch had to stop right away, and that was a relief. She only suggested that I keep the following idea in mind as I obsessed over the sadness: “Oh, I see I’m repeating a habit.”  She said that the more you learn to recognize the habit without beating yourself up over it, the less power the habit has over you, until eventually, you’ll begin to observe your tears as though you were someone watching you in tears—someone loving, like a sister in Christ, looking at you and saying, “It’s okay. You’re not as alone as you think you are.”  You can begin to embrace your sadness in an observant way and then step aside and let it dissipate.

She was right when it came to the pattern of worry I developed after trying to sell a house for a year.  Every time an obsessive thought popped in my head, I could see it as a habit before it took root in my heart and threw me down the road of self-pity.  It was my first step into a life of boldness!

Come back tomorrow to read about an even more powerful step towards eliminating a habit of doubt—replacing it with Truth!!!

The Bout with Doubt – Part Two – Recognizing Habitual Tears

By Kitty Hinkle

“Sometimes we can be tricked into mixing up cleansing tears of grief from tears of self-pity and self-doubt fed by whispered lies from the enemy.”

It’s the habit that I’m focusing on today, and what to do about a habit.  If you’re coming to us for the first time this week, begin with the part one of our posting on The Bout with Doubt- Part One:  Occasional Wallow or Habit? After reading the introduction to the series, follow through each part of the series as we walk through the steps of eliminating the habit of anxiety.

Step one: Recognizing habitual tears (Tuesday’s posting)

Step two: Observing the habit (Wednesday’s posting)

Step Three: Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)

Step Four: Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)

Now for Step One:  Recognizing habitual tears

We all fall into patterns of response in our lives. A kid who goes through ridicule by the in-crowd might still grow up to be a healthy full functioning adult able to socialize and form great friendships, but when faced with a group of worldly handsome talkative individuals, he might find himself tongue-tied.  This is simply a habit rooted in a bad experience from high school.

I remember finding myself in a pattern of anxious thinking after a year-long struggle to sell my home in 2003.  I had four children at the time under the age of six. I kept my home flawlessly clean for showings—85 showings!  Can you imagine scrubbing floors and baseboards and staging the furniture perfectly 85 times? All the while with toddlers and babies crawling about my feet and preschoolers tugging at my hem. The constant cycle of adrenaline—clean the house, show the house, wait in anticipation, receive disappointing news, get the call for the next showing—left me repeating a pattern of anxious thoughts that led to a habit.  Once the house sold, the crisis was over.  I figured no more anxiety, right?  Wrong.  My mind was so used to the pattern of anxiety repeating itself that it looked for something else to put in place of the house selling anxiety.  I repeated the emotional cycle with everything from waiting for news on a medical test to waiting to hear from a friend who was deciding whether the book club I invited her to join was a good fit for her.  Because the cycle of emotions were so practiced, I found even the trivial silly things like the book club decisions brought the most ridiculous level of anxiety.  In noticing it, I identified it as a habit.

You can do the same with your tears. Just observe yourself as you cry. Notice whether the tears are cleansing you or digging you deeper into sadness. Sometimes we can be tricked into mixing up cleansing tears of grief from tears of self-pity and self-doubt fed by whispered lies from the enemy.

Only you and the Lord know if your pattern of grieving and bouts of tears have tipped beyond a healthy level, but if you find you might have developed a habit, don’t feel alone.  It’s a common experience among those who’ve been through difficult events in their lives.

Come back tomorrow when I share with you what I learned about dealing with the habit self-doubt and anxiety.

The Bout with Doubt

Part 1 of a five part series

By Kitty Hinkle

Don’t kids yourselves, ladies, we’re in a battle.  Women of Faith speaker Nicole Johnson wrote a book about fighting cancer titled Stepping into the Ring.  Her talk on the topic in front of sold out crowds reached the hearts of every woman in the audience dealing with the blows of despair in a lonely battle against breast cancer.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out here online and then ask yourself if you don’t sometimes feel the anguish of loneliness of living without your husband as a blow from the enemy in a similar way to how these ladies who fight cancer deal with fear and loss.

Early on, right after losing Tom, those overwhelming tears I might call a good wallow in tears were always acceptable.  As time passed, though, while I still have those occasional episodes of tears, I find those “cloudbursts” spreading apart in frequency.

When they do happen, I guard these tears as precious steps of release. Then I also guard myself from allowing the wrong type of tears to form an unhealthy pattern.

I want to take the time this week to talk about the how to separate when a bout of tears is God’s way of comforting you from when it’s a habitual pattern of self-doubt and pity coming from your flesh or the enemy.  My hearts desire is to help every widow or widower coming across these posts to feel encouraged to grieve freeing tears of release while also learning not to maximize self-doubt but instead, maximize only the glory of the Lord.

It’s normal and natural for us who have been through a loss to develop a habit of anxiety or tears. If you find yourself in that boat, these steps can help you to work through it.

Step one:        Recognizing habitual tears  (Tuesday’s posting)

Step two:        Observing the habit  (Wednesday’s posting)

Step Three:    Replacing a habit with Truth (Thursday’s posting)

Step Four:      Freedom to grieve honestly (Friday’s posting)

Come back and visit this site each day this week as there will be a posting to detail each of these steps.

Mommy Manna

By Danita Hiles

Somewhere in between the funeral and the first day of forever, there comes a point when you realize you are really doing this parenting thing alone.  When you lay in bed and wonder if you really did lock the back door, and know you have to get up to check.  When you sit in a school performance trying to clap louder and smile big enough to make up for the fact that Daddy isn’t there.   When you lose it the morning of leaving for vacation simply because your brain is exploding with all of the details that you alone are in charge of.  It is moments like that when I’m sure there just isn’t enough mommy to go around.

That word ‘enough’ has come to mean a lot to me.  When I think of doing this parenting journey solo day after day for one more week, one more month, one more year, I am absolutely overwhelmed.  But God’s word promises that we have exactly what we need for the day he has given us.  I can do this – today. He has promised us ‘enough’- for today.  If this journey is indeed my portion (Psalm 16:5) the boundaries will fall for me in pleasant places- today.

God established a plan for His day by day provision for the Israelites. At the beginning of every day, He promised enough manna for that day. The word manna means…portion, it was the daily portion  of what God had allotted for them. What He knew they needed. But as He repeatedly told the Israelites – they had to gather new manna each day. (Exodus 16: 16-18) Sure, He supernaturally provided it, but they had two responsibilities: 1.  Gather it and  2. Eat, or appropriate it for today.

In my mind manna means whatever I need to get through any particular day or situation grace-fully.  The thing I am realizing is that God knows the beginning from the end.  He already knows what each day will hold.  He already knows what I need to get through the day in my single parent household full of raging hormones and lost hair ties and a puppy that chews up my shoes.  What does all of this talk about gathering manna have to do with the daily-ness of life in the ‘hood’ (widow-hood)?. I think the commands are pretty much the same for us as they were for the  Israelites:

  1. Gather it:   Get into His word.  Fill your mind with good stuff.  Spend time with  Him before the demands of the day take over. Memorize key verses that will help in moments of crisis.  Post them so that you are surrounded by His truth.  My house is pasted with index cards full of scripture in the weirdest places!
  2. Appropriate it:  What are we going to do with what He has given us? Choose to respond instead of simply reacting.  (This is especially beneficial with teenagers!) Take a breath, whisper a prayer, give yourself a time-out, whatever it takes.  Go to Him first, and He will help you respond with wisdom instead of reacting out of emotion.

The simple truth of our daily reality is that many things simply will not look the same as they used to.  That we have to wrap our brains around new ways of taking vacations and having dinner and getting through after-school meltdowns.

When I have to be both ‘good cop’ and ‘bad cop’ when setting teenage boundaries- there is enough manna for that.

When my third grader cries herself to sleep because her family tree project is pitifully bare and missing a daddy and grandparents – there is enough manna for that.

When everybody needs help with homework and clean clothes and dinner and to be driven somewhere- there is enough manna for that.

When the days are long and the nights are longer, and you ache to be held just one more time – there is enough manna for that.

There is a video game my daughter plays involving some sort of magical princess power that you earn through your adventures. When your power runs low, your wand stops twinkling and a message flashes up on the screen saying,  ‘Your manna has been depleted’.

Can you relate?  Sometimes, precious sisters, it is time to just say, ‘Lord, my manna has been depleted. I’m all out. Done. Finished.’ Sometimes, it’s just time for bed.  I pray after a long day you can snuggle down for the night confident that there will be a fresh portion of manna, set out just for you, waiting tomorrow morning.  Knowing that there will again, be just enough of exactly what you need for whatever the day holds.

Lamentations 3:22  ‘Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.   Great is thy faithfulness. I say to myself, the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him’.