Wisdom for Widows Nuggets #8


When dealing with the topic of opportunities, it’s important to realize that our spouse’s life has ended but God has allowed us additional time. We need to seek what God’s purposes for us are.  A good study to help determine our purposes is by looking up all the widows in the Bible. There are also historical widows to learn about. We might personally know widows who could be good role models of Godly widows serving the Lord.

There are many situations around your community in which you can help others. Maybe you know of elderly in your vicinity who would love to have you visit them. Make yourself aware of the current events in your area and think you may be able to be involved in helping those involved. Continue reading

Wisdom for Widows Nuggets #8


When dealing with the topic of opportunities, it’s important to realize that our spouse’s life has ended but God has allowed us additional time. We need to seek what God’s purposes for us are.  A good study to help determine our purposes is by looking up all the widows in the Bible. There are also historical widows to learn about. We might personally know widows who could be good role models of Godly widows serving the Lord.

There are many situations around your community in which you can help others. Maybe you know of elderly in your vicinity who would love to have you visit them. Make yourself aware of the current events in your area and think you may be able to be involved in helping those involved. Continue reading

Alone with God


 

“Retreat from the world’s noise and the clamour of your worries. In silence you can hear the whisper of the Infinite.” (1) These are the words I read on the pamphlet in my silent retreat packet. Preparing for the five- and-a-half hours drive to my favorite retreat, I felt so ready!

There’s something about driving away from everything and going into a quiet spot. Some people feel close to God by listening to music. Others can sit in a cafe with people around them and immerse themselves in their own private world. As for me , I need to be away from my normal surroundings. I relish being surrounded and immersed with nature. Most of all, I need to be in quietness without distractions.

Last year as I read one of my favorite blogs by Ferree Hardy, “A Christian Widow’s Place”, I read about a retreat called God’s Quest. As I read about taking yourself away from your usual busy life and surrounding yourself by God’s nature, talking to no one but him, I found myself thinking yes, this is what I need! While reading the information, I read that the second day is called a “hermit day.” Silence starts at 9 o’clock the first evening and continues through the next day,” hermit day,” and ends 10 a.m. the third day.

There’s something special about this length of silence and solitude without interruption while talking only to God. Jesus often separated himself from  others to be alone with His Heavenly Father and gave us this example to follow.

God speaks in a still small voice. How will we hear him unless we take time to sit still and listen?

Arriving after dark, it wasn’t until Friday morning that I was greeted by the once-again beautiful foliage. The air was brisk, but as I nestled in a blanket relaxing on a glider next to the pond, I felt God’s peace and love. Once again I pulled out my journal and started listening to what He had to say.

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latest pond pic

I imagine  many secrets are hidden in those waters, as others over the years have sat there and talked to God.

After Friday night’s delicious Amish-cooked meal, we attendees met for devotions. Following that sweet time of fellowship and song, we went our silent ways to focus only on our Lord.

Pampering myself in the Jacuzzi in my cottage and sleeping late the next morning were both extra bonuses I enjoyed. It was great knowing that nothing was awaiting me to attend to that day. What a great way to clear one’s mind of all distractions than to remove yourself from them!

I had previously determined not to drive so far for my retreat nextyear, but as I walked across the vacated ski slopes enjoying the view while I talked to the Lord at this special place, I’m afraid I may find myself on that drive again next year.

Regardless of where I spend my retreat, I hope I always take time to go someplace alone to be refreshed. If our Lord needed this, how much more do we?

You may be saying, “It’s not necessary to drive a distance or even to go away from your home to meet with the Lord.” This is true; however, in the busy world in which we live  and the hectic life we live, for me, I know I need to retreat at least once a year.

In Exodus 33:14, God told Moses, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” This is the verse God  gave  me as I prepared to retreat. Still, His promise is true in all of our situations. As long as we have God’s presence, we can have rest. No matter what trials we face or where we are, we’ll always find a quiet rest in the Lord.

I pray that I keep my mind stayed on Him while I continue in my everyday life.

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May God bless you and help you to find your private “retreat.”

Kathy

  • 1.  texts from the Elf-help Therapy book “Acceptance Therapy” (by Lisa Engelhardt).

Happy 4th Anniversary Sweetheart!


Today marks the 4th year anniversary of your home-going. For you it’s another day of eternal bliss. For me, it is the 4th year of living as a widow. God has been so good to me. Remember how I told you that God could only do good? We knew for you to be allowed to go home with Him would be good, but we also knew that, somehow, He promised to work things out for good for me also. That didn’t mean it was a good thing for me if God took you with Him, but I have learned that once again, I could trust in His promises. (Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God….”)

I know there were times during that first and even second year that I wondered if I would ever be able to move on with my life. I remember sobbing until I was sick many nights. However, I also remember that those times became less and less. The wonderful daughters you gave me would sometimes help me figure out how to move past those days. I can even remember telling God once that I wanted my life back like it was. But you know that I would never really want to bring you back down to this fallen world. I have always been happy for both Matthew and now you, that you were released from here to the presence of our Lord and in fullness of all joy.

By your third year in Heaven I was started to function better. November of that year I started back to work part-time. I still carried a continual sadness within me and I hoped that I wouldn’t always have to feel that way. But God had been drying my tears and healing my heart. I have to tell you, though, that it was still a lot harder that year than I had expected.

We now have reached your 4th- year mark. I am relieved to be able to say that I have made it through. I still think of you daily and miss you. I still wish I had you by my side. I still sometimes feel sadness, but I can control it instead of it controlling me. I still shed a few tears, but they are fewer and farther apart. Our daughters and family have been super to me. They are always there for me; however, it isn’t the same as having you. We were one. That’s what has taken me the longest to learn; to live life as one, not as a

couple. I have tried to learn to make right decisions without your guidance. Of course, that is not always easy, nor do I always get it right. I can feel good about life again now. I have been seeking what God’s new will and purpose for my life is.

I have started my own widow’s group this year. It has been a little rocky getting started, but I feel God will bless it. I experienced serving God on my first mission’s trip, and I know He is asking me to keep on serving in that capacity. You see, God has been “making all things good” for me. By this time next year I am hoping to have my own silent retreats started. That is still in the beginning stages. So you see, God did not forget me, and He has kept His hand on me. He has taken my crooked pathway and made it straight again. (Isaiah 45:2 “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight…”)

You would be very proud of all of our family. We have precious grandchildren and I wish you could see them and watch them grow. One day you will greet them on that glorious shore. All have accepted our Lord and Savior except, of course, our little two-year-old grandson.

Well, I just wanted to wish you a Happy Anniversary. I love you with all my heart.

Kathy

March Came in Like a Lion!


March certainly did come in like a lion! Let’s hope it goes out like a lamb.

This morning as I hear the wind chimes ringing steadily, I keep thinking of that saying about March: “If March comes like a lion, it leaves like a lamb”.

That’s a lot like grief, isn’t it? Fresh grief seems to roar at us like a lion and hunts us down as prey. I remember those first two years when it was often too hard to run away from the grief. I had to give in and let grief grab me. But I’m thankful that God never let that lion of grief devour me. My wonderful Lord always grabbed me from grief’s clutches and held me close to Him while grief sulked away. I have learned to run to Him more and more until, finally, over the last two years, now all I have to do is keep gazing at Him, my Lord and Savior. As long as that I keep my mind and eyes on Him, I seldom fall. I believe that old lion of grief has learned that He can no longer get near enough to succeed in having a hold on me.

Oh, yes, sometimes I get fearful and think I feel him sneaking around, and I can’t help but succumb to a few tears. I try not to look at him, and it makes him fade away. It happens less often now. I know the Lamb is waiting in the shadows, and all I have to do is call on Him and He’s by my side. I’m slowly learning to hold him close all the time and bask in His peacefulness.

The truth is the Lamb of God has always been right beside me. He has never left me alone.  It has taken me almost four years to grab hold of that full joy and peace He offers.  In the meantime, He has patiently collected my tears and carried me when I couldn’t not run, let alone walk. He said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” God can never break a promise. Aren’t you glad?

If you don’t know how to have God as your protector and peace , please contact me. He’s waiting for you with open arms.

God bless you, Kathy

Valentine’s Day Comfort


Valentine’s Day is one of many special days when we miss our husbands. When we are with our friends, we hear them talking about what they usually get from their husbands. Even if you and your mate never exchanged any gifts, with so much focus on the romance and love, it can make us miss them more as the holiday approaches.

This year as I have a luncheon with a small group of widows I plan to focus on the love of God. He is the creator and master of love.  Ephesians 3:19 tells us that the love of Christ is too great for us to fully understand. We can’t understand the length, the depth, the breadth, nor the height, of his love. Romans 8:28 says us that for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, not things present, nor things to come will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I have a small book called Born to Love. It consists of short devotionals about love. Some of them focus on different songs or poems. I particularly like the one called Heaven’s Love. It meditates about the song  The  Love of God.  As Frederick M. Lehman penned these words:

The love of God, is greater far

Then tongue or pen can ever tell!

It goes beyond the highest star

And reaches to the lowest hell .

As he reached the third stanza our writer tells Mr. Lehman was looking for more thoughts about God’s grace and love when he found this poem in his file:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on the earth a quill,

And every man a scribe to trade,

To write the love of God above,

Would drain the ocean dry.

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Tho’ stretched from sky to sky.

He then concluded with this refrain:

O Love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure

The saints’ and angels’ song .

I encourage you to think about God’s love for us as we celebrate this day. God’s love is a love which we can never lose!

*I have included below some interesting facts about the above poem/song*

Frederick M. Lehman, “History of the Song, The Love of God,” 1948

Music: Fred­er­ick Leh­man; ar­ranged by his daugh­ter, Clau­dia L. Mays (MI­DI, score).

Words: Frederick M. Lehman; he wrote this song in 1917 in Pasadena, California, and it was published in Songs That Are Different, Volume 2, 1919. The lyrics are based on the Jewish poem Haddamut, written in Aramaic in 1050 by Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai, a cantor in Worms, Germany; they have been translated into at least 18 languages.

One day, during short intervals of inattention to our work, we picked up a scrap of paper and, seated upon an empty lemon box pushed against the wall, with a stub pencil, added the (first) two stanzas and chorus of the song…Since the lines (3rd stanza from the Jewish po­em) had been found penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave, the general opinion was that this inmate had written the epic in moments of sanity.

May God Bless you and Comfort  you this Valentine’s Day,

Kathy

Holidays

Holidays


Holidays and other special days are always a challenge for those who have lost loved ones. This is especially true for the first few years after this loss. The first year is usually the toughest year. However, I know for me the third Christmas after losing my husband was my hardest one. We are all different, and, of course, we all grieve differently. There is no set rule or way to know exactly how each of us will react with these special days.
My husband’s birthday was October 10th. I have realized, with some help from one of my daughters, that my emotions started churning around that time every year. Hunting season follows with everyone talking about hunting, their deer, and adventures. My husband loved to hunt, so my emotions churn more. The hunting leads into Thanksgiving, and then of course, Christmas. I also lost my son in an accident on January 2nd, 1996. It is after that time passes, that everything will starts to go back to normal within me.
For the first couple years of my husband’s passing, I was fully aware of my grief and tried to control my thoughts and emotions. This year, my fourth year, it seems my sub conscious has taken over. I am no longer consciously thinking about a certain day, like his birthday. I start to get emotional and ask myself why. It’s only then that I realize it was in my sub conscience! How do you gain control over that? That’s something I have yet to learn. However, there are many other things I have learned. Our heart does control our emotions and our conscience, but it also is the place where our faith lives. It is because of my faith in God, that I can continue going forward, step by step.
There are many things that we can control. Thankfulness is one of many things that is a choice. If we choose to be thankful in all circumstances, we will be able to lighten our steps.
You may ask what you have to be thankful for.
I am thankful for the basic things; my immediate family, my church family, God’s provisions, and too many things to enumerate. If you struggle to be thankful for these things right now, we have many other things to hold onto and to add to our list of blessings. Psalm 136 lists many things we are to give thanks for: that God is good, His mercy endureth forever, for His wonderful works to the children of men. Only He can satisfy the longing in our souls for perfect peace. On the top of all of these things is the gift of God’s Son to make a way of salvation for us.
These are the things I want to consciously think about during this Christmas time. God’s gift to my son and his girlfriend almost 19 years ago was to allow them to enter into His glory. He also allowed my husband that same gift over three years ago. God’s goodness endureth forever. He saw fit to leave me here to “hold the fort.” I’m thankful that He’ll never leave me alone. He’s with me daily. I need only to reach out and take His hand. I can have peace and joy even in the midst of missing my son and husband.
You can have this peace and joy as well if you accept the greatest gift of all, God’s son. I pray you will reach out to Him over these holidays.
Please contact me if you need help in doing so. Merry CHRISTmas! Kathy

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Why Did Those Tears Come?


Three years and three months into widowhood, I was sailing along. I had learned not to look back, but to look forward or up. I was really getting a grip on who I am now. I am a different person now than when I was married. Who can remain the same as a widow as you were as a wife?
I had cleaned my husband’s man cave out some time ago; however, I have recently been redecorating it to be pleasing to my eyes, instead of a man’s eyes. I also have developed my own routines now. I felt I had moved on with my husband always in my mind and heart minus all the grief.
I was totally unprepared to be knocked off of my feet like I was last week. As I scrolled through my Facebook, I looked at a picture of several couples from my church that had a fun night of fellowship. It immediately hit me that my hubby and I were not in that picture and that we never will be again. “Wow. I didn’t think I’d ever feel like this anymore,” I thought.
Someone whom I really respect reminded me that there are many losses we need to grieve when we lose someone. I had grieved the loss of my other half, a large part of my identity. I had grieved the loss of my best friend, my carpenter, plumber, and my all around handy- man. I had grieved my decision maker and my person to vent to. Of course I had lost my one to love and the one who returned that love.
Evidently, there was one loss I had not stared in the face yet. I had already started fellowshipping with mixed groups and sometimes with singles, and I was fine with that. But I had not really grieved the loss of no longer having fellowship as a couple. I had been saddened by the thought of it, but it had not become so blatantly clear to me as in that picture.
I am thankful that the Lord always lovingly picks me up when I fall. He never grows weary of my tears. In fact, Psalm 56:8 says, “… put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?”
With this hurdle behind me I plan on smooth sailing from now on, that is, until something else blindsides me!

Does Time Really Heal All Wounds?


According to Jim Berg, a pastor and author whom I heard preach, time does not heal all wounds.

Have you ever had a deep cut or wound that took forever to heal and when it did, the scar remained sensitive? I have a scar like that. It has been healed for 20 years or more yet; if I bump that area; yet, it still hurts.

When we lose a loved one, it leaves a deep wound. Years later there will still be some things that can bring the hurt back to the surface. That hurt is a reminder that things are not as they used to be.  Healing is when we are restored to normal function.

A deep cut or wound requires a lot of care. Sometimes either it requires stitches, salve, and maybe even a dressing.

It’s the same with our soul. We need a lot of care for our souls for a very long time. We nurture it by reading God’s Word, by prayer, and by reaching out to others. Wounded people can help others to heal. If we look around us, we can see many hurting people. This, in turn, works as a balm to our own souls. I know as I reach out to others, it helps me to feel useful and it helped me to realize that I’m not alone with my grief.

I’d like want to share with you the following that is also from Jim Berg:

The greatest loss in the entire universe was God’s loss of the fame, allegiance, worship, and obedience. He deserved when we in Adam joined Satan in defacing His image in us. We can’t adequately overcome the effects of our own personal losses unless we see them as a part of this bigger picture. We must allow ourselves to see Satan’s intent behind our losses, and we must turn to Christ for comfort, for instruction, and for the enabling to once again reflect God. Yes, even in the midst of our losses.

As I listened to this pastor speak, I realized what he was saying was true. We can’t fully move on in our grief until we realize this world is not the way God intended it to be. It is because we now live in a fallen world that we must suffer these losses and afflictions.

No, it’s not true that time heals all wounds, but with service to God, depending on Him, and reaching out to others, we can move on and continue to be a contented Christian… even in our grief.

May God richly bless you as you trust in Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My third Christmas


This was my third Christmas without my beloved. I remember when my first Christmas was approaching. I declared to my daughters that I would not be decorating that year. However, as the days passed, I began to think of my small grandchildren and how I wanted to impact them. I had been telling them that it was a wonderful gift for their pap to have been able to go to heaven. They knew I missed him and that I was sad, but I wondered if I may give them the wrong message if I did not decorate at all. I decided in order for me to be able to decorate, I would have to change some things. My husband and I had always purchased a live tree, so I invested in an artificial tree. I also bought new ornaments. As far as the rest of the house, I decorated some, but not my usual amount.

My second Christmas seemed to be a little easier. I still grieved but not as strongly. I again used different ornaments. New Christmas traditions were starting to form between my daughters’ families and me.

This year brought me to the third Christmas. I was surprised to find myself actually worse than last year. I had read that for some widows the third year of grieving is the hardest. Unfortunately, I have found this to be true for me. I entered my third year of widowhood on June 4th of this year. In some ways, I have grieved harder this year than last year. I do not cry as often, but my husband’s birthday hit me hard this year just as the holidays have. For some reason, it reassures me to know that I am not the only one to which this has happened.

As I dealt with my feelings of grief over the past couple weeks, I have tried to find a balance for myself. I feel that we should not fight our grieving. However, I feel that I have reached a place where I need to help myself to keep moving forward. I can’t embrace my sorrow. I need to direct my steps forward as I continue to seek God’s will.

I am glad that our God is a God that cares.   Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” I pray you have the comfort that God can give as well.

Kathy

Feel free to share how your holidays were for you. I would love to hear from you.