Wisdom for Widows Nuggets #7


Many would ask, “What does forgiveness have to do with grieving or healing from grief?” Unforgiveness is bondage. 2 Peter 2:19 says, “…for people are slaves to whatever masters them.”  Author Mary Ann Kuechler in her book states: “Unforgiveness binds us in a spiral of bitterness and resentment that takes all of our strength, destroys our joy and limits our usefulness. 1

Why must we forgive? We are commanded to. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you.”

Christ gave us the example to follow. Luke 23:34 tells us, “Then Jesus said, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Another reason to forgive is that unforgiveness delays the healing process and could even stop it. Once we forgive, we are able to live in the present, not the past. Continue reading

Wisdom for Widows Nuggets 5



Overcoming

As we continue the nuggets I gleaned from a recent Bible Study I’ve previously mentioned, we now are at the O from our acronym Wisdom. We have covered highlights from Widows, Isolation, Suffering, Decision Making and now Overcoming.

There are many definitions for grief. A  few are: sorrow, loss, abandoned, mourning, brokenness, helplessness, loneliness, and emptiness. Grief is a process. It’s learning to manage and accept the loss of someone who  was very close to you. During grief’s process, a widow or widower grows and learns to live with his or her loss. God is good, and we need to learn to lean on Him.

All grief begins with a crisis. Continue reading

Wisdom for Widows


 

“The darkness of our trials only makes God’s grace shine brighter.”

I have the privilege of attending a Widow’s 8 week Bible Study at my daughter’s church. For the next several postings, I’ll share some of the nuggets I’ve been gleaning from the study. The title is “Wisdom for Widows.”

The ladies who attend the study range from in their 50s to 90s. The length of time spent into the journey of widowhood range from 2 weeks to 8 years. Grief’s like a thumbprint. All thumbprints are different; yet, they’re still a lot alike.

It’s the same with widows. Although we’re walking different paths as widows, we still have many things we experience that are the same.  Because of this common thread, regardless of our age or where we are in our walk, we benefit from studying together.

Grieving is a process, and it’s painful. Oh, how glad I am that we don’t have to go through it alone. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1(KJV)

Part 1 in this study: God’s Heart for the Widow

In this first part of the study, we’re reminded of the many places in God’s Word that give reference to widows.

In Exodus 22:22-24 (NIV), God warns the people, “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do, and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused….” He goes on to tell of strong consequences for those that do.

Instructions in regards to treatment of widows:

Do you know there are several scriptures in the Bible concerning how widows are to be treated?

For instance, in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 24:17-22: God gave Moses laws for the Israelites concerning how to treat widows, strangers, and the fatherless. He told the Israelites to leave grain, olives, and grapes behind for the needy when harvesting. If the laborers dropped any, they were to let them lay so the needy, including widows, could have food.

Jeremiah 7:6-7: God commanded that no one was to oppress strangers, the fatherless, or widows if they wanted His blessing. They were commanded to treat them fairly.

Zachariah 7:9-10: God warns of any social injustice toward the widows, fatherless, stranger or poor.

God continues to give instruction in their treatment in the New Testament also:

Acts 6:1-7: We see a concern over the neglect of ministering and caring for widows as the early Christian church grew. Because of that, God said they were to seek out seven men to relieve some of the duties, allowing enough time to care for the widows.

James 1:27: In this scripture we are challenged to be doers, not just hearers.   We are to visit the fatherless and the widows.

God also shows us His love for the widows by several examples in both the Old and New Testament:

1 Kings 17:8-24: God chose a widow to meet Elijah’s need. He also used a miracle to save her and her son.

2 Kings 4:7:  God sent Elisha to miraculously help a widow get out of debt.

The Book of Ruth gives us the beautiful story of Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth. He used those widows to depict our Redeemer as well and to show us the wonderful way He can use widows. Ruth went from deep sorrow to becoming the great grandmother of King David!

The examples God gives us of His love for widows, continues in the New Testament.

Luke 2:36-38: These verses tell us about Anna, who lost her husband after just seven years of marriage. She chose to give the rest of her life to serving God in the temple.

Luke 21:1-4 and Mark 12:41-44: You’ll read in this passage about the poor widow and the two mites she gave in the offering and how much that meant to Jesus.

Luke 7: 11-18: We read about the widow of Nain. Jesus touched her son who had died and raised him up.

Acts 9:36:  We read how Peter raised the widow Tabitha from the dead.

Yes! God certainly has a heart for widows! Although I have read all of the previous passages many times, having them all presented in one hour of study helped me to realize how many times our Lord showed His special love for us.  We truly do have a wonderful caring heavenly Father.

I encourage you to sit down with your own Bible and read each of these passages I’ve listed today. You will be blessed!

The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains

The fatherless and the widow,

but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.

Psalm 146:9

 

God Bless you,

Kathy

A Shelter in a Time of Storm


I am so thankful that after four years of widowhood, I have safely reached the shoreline and the storm has gone out to sea. Today in church we sang “A raging seaShelter in a Time of Storm.” The chorus says, “Jesus is a rock in a weary land, a shelter in a time of storm.” My, what a storm those first few years were! Without my Lord’s rock as my refuge, I don’t think I would have made it through. God not only helped me make it through the storm, but he also helped me across the weary, rocky land on the edge of grief’s shoreline. When I finally made it through the storm, I crawled to dry land. Standing up, I found the shore very rocky. I would be on my way, making good headway to the land of a new normal, when one of the jagged rocks would trip me. It was discouraging to find myself down again. However, my Lord always lifted me up and filled my heart with encouragement. Each time I fell I’d be stronger and eventually I could rise up without much effort. I’ve traveled far enough away from that jagged shoreline that I’ve come to mostly smooth ground. But, sometimes, I fall into a small pothole the swirling winds and water have left behind. I am stronger now and easily stand back up. I’ve found that I could still look backwards, and if I look hard enough, I can see all of the heartache I left behind. I quickly turn away and don’t allow myself to gaze more than a few minutes or even seconds. The Lord has taught me that I should be responsible for myself now. I have to keep my hands to the plow and not look back. If I look back, I will lose my foothold and slip again. I want to encourage all of you who are grieving, to not give up. Our Lord is, indeed, a shelter in the time of storm. He won’t let the raging storms overtake you. Trust Him and He will carry you through.

Ps. 18:2 – “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”

God Bless You, Kathy

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

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!

What If


When I became a widow, I started my blog to reach out to others such as myself. However, I feel all encouragement we share with each other can be helpful, regardless of who or what we are grieving.

On Jan 2nd, 1996, our beloved son, Matthew went home to be with the Lord. He and his girlfriend were killed in an automobile accident during a snowstorm. Recently, I came across a letter that my sister wrote to me the following March. She too knows profound loss. Her precious daughter went home with the Lord after losing her battle with Leukemia shortly after turning five.

My sister starts the letter by saying:

It is only natural for our minds to look back and to think of all the “what if’s,” even in the future. “What if” they were here with us now? But they aren’t. Thinking, “what if” is futile. We can’t help but wonder and question. Of course, we will always miss them and selfishly wish they were here with us again. Our perfect will for their lives was never realized, and now it never will be. But how fearsome for any of our children to be living outside God’s perfect will for their lives. And so we have to obediently submit, although it is painful. It is bittersweet.

God understands our human feelings and feels sorry for us. He gives us His word to reassure and comfort us. We need to return it to our minds often in order to turn our thinking around and bring it back to where “the joy of the Lord can be our strength.” We always pray for His help. Even when we don’t know what we need, he knows.

The problem that could develop would be we could allow ourselves to remain stuck in reverse and nurse our regrets or bitterness. If we dwell on our “what if’s,” that is, our questions and our longings for things to be the way they once were, Satan gets a foothold and uses the tool of discouragement to disable us. Satan wants to keep us down. Christ wants to lift us up.

I know it doesn’t seem fair that it is even possible for us to maintain our sanity and go on living…for life to go right on…for our world to develop a new normal. But a hard fact of life is that it marches on. It is cruel and ironic but true.

We need to use God’s tool of His Word to survive intact and keep pace with life. We need to find a few helpful verses and write them down and dwell on them whenever we need to. We need to use His Words to help ourselves gain the ability to purposefully and forcefully take ourselves by the shoulders and turn ourselves around again and again.

It is natural for us to stumble and fall and keep looking backward for those who are no longer with us. Picture yourself on a rocky trail. Imagine trying to walk on it when you are crying and looking out for someone you have lost from the trail. How hard it would be!

It is not natural, but necessary, for us to keep picking ourselves up, applying the salve of God’s Word, turning ourselves around, and forcing ourselves to continue on ahead. With time, it gets easier; however, while it is still hard we need to keep forcing ourselves.

We too would have ordered something different for your lives.

Cling to Him. There are times He picks us up and moves us farther along the trail.

God always carries us through the trials; He never leaves us stuck in the middle.

I hope sharing this letter encouraged you as much as it did me, both then and now.

God bless you.

Passing Through the Storm


June 4th marked the third anniversary of my husband’s home going. As that day approached, I realized I had reached a milestone in my journey of grief. As I look back at the previous years, all I can picture is a violent storm, as though I have fought my way to the calm at the end of that storm. I visualize my emotions thrashing to and fro with the winds and waves, sometimes crashing violently. But then I can see my Lord in the midst of the chaos, picking me up and holding me close each time I fell. He would then gently send me on my way, always waiting for me when I would reach out to Him.

Isaiah 43:2 reads, “When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee….” I’ m thankful that His Word is true, and I can testify that He didn’t let the river overflow me. There’ve been times when I felt the storm might have indeed, overtaken me, times that I thought I might never stop crying again.

I carried a sadness within my soul that I truly was not sure would ever leave. Still, even with that sadness, I had the joy that only comes from the Lord. I’m sure that’s what sustained me.

I’m not fooled into thinking that I’ll never feel sad again. I know sometimes I’ll still shed a few tears, but I see my pathway so much clearer now. I can see my life as Kathy, instead of as Kathy and Phil as I was for 32 years. Just as God had a plan and purpose for me as a wife, mother, and grandmother, I know He also has a plan for me as a widow, mother, and grandmother.

I’ll always love my husband dearly and miss him every day just as I do my son. However, I also know that I’ll keep on walking to the calmer shore, as God makes “the crooked places straight…” Isaiah 45:3.

I pray that each of you will be able to see the shore- line Him to guide you there. God bless you.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Never Alone


This blog is one I posted before, but I felt it was important for us to be reminded of God’s presence in our lives.

When you have lost someone you love, it’s  easy to feel alone.  However, if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are never alone. I am very aware that since my husband went to be with the Lord, humanly speaking, I am alone. That is, I live alone. However, in reality, I’m not alone. It’s impossible for our friends and family to be with us at all times, but Joshua 1:5 says, “Only God can stand with us all the days of our life.” Our lifetime mates and our children can’t make that promise. Psalm 16:8 states that God is at my right hand.  “I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.”

As a deceiver, Satan wants to make us forget that God is always with us. He wants us to look at our circumstances.  It could be you’ve lost a child as I have. You may be a young widow such as me. Satan wants us to focus on these losses and to feel like no one understands. He wants us to feel alone in our grief. He doesn’t want us to focus on God. Don’t  misunderstand me. God knows we will grieve and that we need to grieve.  He gave us tears. He doesn’t want us to forget our loved ones. However, He does want us to feel His presence and His comfort in the midst of our grief.

Today, keep your mind focused on God and his presence, and remember that He is with you always.

(If any of you  don’t  have that peace and comfort to carry with you daily, please feel free to contact me, and I’llbe happy to show you how you can receive it. May God bless you.)