Blended and Bonded

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV) 

I often write about raising my four boys without their father.

Sometimes their episodes of grief shake me to the core, and I wonder how I’ll parent them through it, only to find I don’t need to know how—God walks me through the “how” every time.

Sometimes I want to hug every young widowed mother struggling to see hope in her children’s lives, and remind her of the power in letting God set her vision for her children’s future.

I write a lot about my boys because they are my purpose for now. I’m it for them—no other parent except their Heavenly Father. It’s up to me and Him to show them who their real Father is—God.

Occasionally I’ll write about my two children from Tom’s first marriage. Raising them in our home was one of the biggest honors in my life.

What a different grief journey it has been as their stepmother. These two live in other states, and emotional separations that often come with blended families add to our spotty connections.

As a grieving, healing mother of a passel of boys, I chose to hone in on the ones still there in my home while waiting for my older stepson and stepdaughter to heal over unresolved loyalties that often happen with children who endure their parents’ divorce.

This week, as I write, that healing is happening.

Tom’s six children reunited for the first time since they were small.

My older daughter (I recently decided to drop the step reference—after all, as children who grew up in my home, they are considered whole parts, not just step parts, of our family) asked me to bring us all together. This was a huge breakthrough for her, as she had been on an emotional roller coaster of love for me and anger over her losses.

You are not going to believe how that came about. Had you spoken with me years ago you would have found me wondering if we could ever restore any connection between our once-blended family. We didn’t have to.  God did it.  Unable to find answers for her anger and pain, she finally turned to a local church and began her walk with Christ.

And one place He led her was to bring back the family of her youth.

Now today we gather in a cute cabin on the teeny little resort island of Put-in-Bay in the middle of Lake Erie.

Can you imagine the joy this brings me? To see Tom’s six kids reunited?  God redeems everything, if you let Him.

I watch them frolic—like Tom did.  They are so alike! My grown son from Tom’s first marriage looks exactly like Tom, and very much like my youngest.  He and my college-aged son share their father’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for software development.  They spent an evening collaborating on ideas for their next projects.

We gathered at an island resort restaurant, watching their Cleveland team in the playoffs—my daughter laughing with my middle two sons.  She has their same lips—the full round lips of their father.  She also has their free spirit—that relaxed nature and quick wit.

With God’s love, blended families can keep blending, even when unexpected loss had once separated.  Healing does happen.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 not to allow the grudges between brothers go unresolved while you go offer gifts at His alter. Sometimes you go about life handling just what’s on your plate because it’s all you can do.  For years, I lived out my purpose in raising my four boys obediently, knowing that there were two more children who needed to be reconciled to these brothers.

Thank you, Jesus, for bringing our family full circle, and together.  May You bring that joy and connection to the young widowed mother reading this and to her children, whether just her own or from blended situations.  And may your love grow in my own six children and spread to my older children’s mother as she and her two children draw closer to each other and to You.  Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, 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.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Child Whisperer

Triggers (Part Two)

He Calls Me His Own (an article about step-parenting and grief)

SOS (Sudden Onset Sleepies)

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 (ESV)

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed you suddenly felt sleepy?

I hadn’t felt that reaction to stress since those early days after the funeral, but I felt it again recently.

It was one of those weeks with tax returns, senior graduation planning, family summer scheduling and promised ministry duties. I simply had to meet all of these deadlines.

So, I hunkered down and began drilling through the mound of paperwork on my desk.

I was chugging along when something stopped my progress dead in its tracks—a drawn-out phone call with automated voice menus, hold times and customer service reps who kept forwarding me along to another, giving me plenty of time to think about all the tasks building up like a logjam.

While on hold, I found myself fighting a sort of shut-down dance. It started with a buzz of tension that crawled up my spine and bounced about in my head, and quickly turned into an overwhelming urge to do one thing, and only one thing—sleep. It were as though my eyelids would have to be propped up with toothpicks just to get through that phone call. And as soon as I hung up, boom! I collapsed into a twenty minute snooze.

The nap was easy to manage in my life as a homeschool mom with no office job to stop me.

But I wondered, once I step back into the work world, won’t I need a better way to handle stress?

God created in us an ability to manage our emotions in so many ways. Growing sleepy as a reaction to my mound of papers was a red flag telling me to work through the underlying problem—-stress.

What can I learn from Martha?

She rushed about preparing the home for her guests and grew anxious when Mary let go of those hospitality duties enough to relax and relate to Jesus.

I pictured Martha outside of the kitchen, then warped into modern times—sitting in front of a laptop with a cell phone to her ear, pressing hard to get all that work done. If Jesus kindly called Martha out on her misplaced priorities in the kitchen, doesn’t He also call us out when we let the whirlwind of today’s information age tie us up in knots? Was my sleepy reaction a wake up call to slow down and stop being a Martha?

God calls us to remember what’s important. Romans 12:2 tells us “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)

I prayed. God, how can I change my routines so that this overwhelmed feeling doesn’t escalate again?

Then I sat, breathed and took in what He had to say. Enjoy what I’ve put on your plate!

Exactly. The reason logjams happen is that I’m piling responsibility after responsibility on my plate and then rushing about bopping down every deadline that pops up its annoying head. In the process, I’ve set aside precious daily routines that kept me in Mary’s world—exercising and getting in His word each morning, keeping my home tidy, spending time each day writing, having relaxed and spontaneous connections with my friends, keeping a handle on my finances, eating right and taking time to enjoy my time in the kitchen.

I’m now unpacking what needs to change in my life to bring Mary back. Would you pray with me? I bet you have a Mary in you just waiting to come out.

Dear Lord, I thank You for the mechanisms You’ve built in each and every one of us to warn us when we’ve flown too close to the sun and need to slow down. Would you guide me through the steps I need to take to open up time and joy in my schedule? Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, 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.

You might also like these posts by our team:

Lead Me- Guide Me, Walk Beside Me

The Bout with Doubt

The Bout with Doubt Part Two:  Recognizing Habitual Tears

 

a widows might lori reynolds streller

El – The Strong One

El Shaddai.  El Roi.  El Elyon.

The names of God usually start with El because El means God.

The word that follows “El”  describes something distinctive about God which sets Him apart from all the false gods people invent. A tribal group in a country far away might believe in a rain god who gives them enough rain, but El Shaddai is the God who is ALL suffient, providing ALL needs.

So what about when “El” is written just by iteself? Ancient text used “el” to describe any god, but as time went on, by itself, “El” referred to the one and only God–emphasis on the fact that no other god exists!

El means the One God–all powerful, all good, all knowing.

El is our strong tower.  And like a refuge for those seeking safety, He is Whom we run to.

Isn’t that what we long for? Don’t you sometimes wish you had that covering of a husband–someone you could run to and snuggle up to when the world around you gets rough?  Don’t you long to run for that strong tower where you can go inside, close the door and be safe?

The politically correct in this world like to say women are just like men. As for me–this woman needs her El, her strong tower.

And she has Him.  Looking back on eight years without that husband in the flesh, I see miraculous moments when El was my strength in Whom I completely trust for my future.

Let Him be your strength sister.  Shout His name out loud– “El!”  “El!”

El Adonnai  – not just sufficient but ALL sufficient!

El Roi – not just one who sees, but THE one who sees!

El Elyon – not just high, but The MOST High!

Sing and worship and praise your El, sister.  He IS your strong tower!


Other Names of God articles in our series: El Shaddai, El Roi, Adonai,

Perhaps

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

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

1 Samuel 14:6 (ESV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was one of the original writers of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over to Sheryl Pepple and continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle
Other articles like this one: Dancing Through Tears and The Big Picture

 

Reliving It: Helping Your Adolescent

Dear sisters who share the same kind of heartache of losing the father of your children.  There are times when I feel my heart breaking for all children who lose a parent, and the night I wrote this, four years after Tom’s passing, was one of them.

Last night I had to set aside everything to simply sit and cry with one of my boys.

You see,  Tom died…  Again.

I expected this, was warned about it. But it nevertheless knocked me off my feet.  Again.

I say “again”, because when a child of six or seven years old loses his father, in a way, he doesn’t really lose him….yet.   The mind of a six or seven-year-old simply can’t fathom the permanence of death.  It takes the adolescent mind of a ten or eleven-year-old to start grasping, at a heart level, what really happened to his father.

And that’s what happened tonight.  In my eleven-year-old’s heart, Dad really died tonight.

And after two straight hours of sobs, he sat up and said, “Mom, it really feels like it just happened—like tonight.”

It started for him with the new aquarium he got for Christmas.  It’s gorgeous—with a cool background and tons of colorful plants, glow-in-the-dark gravel, and a volcano that blows bubbles.  He was marveling at it as he climbed into his bed, and I tucked him in, thinking he is his happy-go-lucky self–until later when he padded into my room. “I miss Dad.”  He had done this many times before, so as I typically do, I followed him to his room and sat with him on his bed.

He told me that all those other times he said he missed Dad, he only wanted me to spend extra time with him.  “This time, Mom, I really, really miss him.”

He cried about not being able to remember as much as he wanted about Dad.  He cried about the teacher at school who would embarrass him by having the class pray for him over not having a Dad.  He cried about missing out on camping and hiking with Dad.  He cried about the kid in school who asked him who signs his papers since his Dad is dead.  He cried about missing Dad’s laugh.

Then he admitted that when Dad died four years ago, he just went through the motions, even though he saw his father die right before his eyes.  “I was too little. I didn’t understand what a heart attack was.  I didn’t know why he was just floating in the water. But even though it was scary, I wasn’t sad.” That night, he told me, after we told him Dad died, he even asked his older brother why he was crying.  When his older brother looked surprised that he didn’t know, he pretended the tears because everyone else was expecting tears.  “Now I know why everyone was crying, and now I can’t stop.”

I spent hours with him, helping him process. You may have to do this with your child when they reach eleven. I hope I did the right things.

“Mom, it’s not fair,” he said. “You always tell me all the great things he did with me, but I was only seven, and I hardly get to remember all the stuff he did.”

“True, it isn’t fair, and I wish you could remember,” I said. “But truth is, all the memories of all the things you and Dad did together are there, locked deep in your brain and heart.  It hurts that you don’t have them at the top of your brain where you can pull them out, but your body remembers, and that’s why you’re the great kid you are today, because deep inside you know you were deeply loved.  Deep down there is a knowledge in your heart that you were held, fed, played with, wrestled with, taken around on Dad’s shoulders, and constantly loved by Dad.  No one can take that away. There are lots of people growing up feeling unloved because nobody did that for them. But you’re special.  Dad really loved you and loved hanging out with you, and deep down you know you’re special because of it.”

That night I was reliving Tom’s death through my eleven-year-old’s tears.  And next to him in the bed across the room was his little brother, who would have to go through the same loss a year later.

These are all seasons, and I’m honored to be able to love this little guy through his loss.

Blessings.

Kit 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. Her longing for walks on the beach with her chocolate lab has led her to Charleston where she’s now starting her new season.  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 children grieving the loss of their father?  Here are some articles you might try:

Remembering with love, tears, and stones…by Nancy Howell

Grandpa’s Hand by guest blogger Gail Sanseverino