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

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Wisdom for Widows’ Nuggets #6


 

Remarriage

 In this blog, we’ll discuss the M of the acronym Wisdom. (W idows,

 I solation, S uffering, D ecision M aking, O vercoming, M arriage).

Marriage meets the needs of companionship and intimacy. God created us with two needs; love and impact. The love we receive fills our need for a relationship and for intimacy. The impacts our marriage fills is our feelings of significance and meaning. Even though God wants to fill these needs, most of us depend on our mates to provide them for us. As widows, we now feel lost and empty. Many widows feel they have lost their “reason” for living. Continue reading

Wisdom for Widows


Loneliness is inner emptiness. Solitude is inner fulfillment. Solitude is not first a place but a state of mind and heart.

(Richard Foster “The Celebration of Discipline”)

In my last posting I shared some “nuggets” I learned from the first week of a Bible study called Wisdom for Widows. Today I’m continuing with the second week of the same study. This week’s topic was Isolation.

Let’s review that first week’s theme to give the acronym from which the study was created:

W idows – Comprehend the Bible’s portrayal of God’s heart for the widow

I solation – Learn how to face the biggest obstacle – Loneliness

S uffering

 

D ecision Making                                                                                                                                 O vercoming                                                                                                                          M arriage

F orgiveness                                                                                                                                             O pportunities                                                                                                                                       R elationships

W ealth                                                                                                                                                               I ntercession                                                                                                                                                                     D ifferences                                                                                                                                                    O rganization                                                                                                                                                   W orship                                                                                                                                                     S ervice

Information taken from “Wisdom for Widows” by Mary Ann Kuechler

 

Sometimes widows tend to think of themselves as the only lonely people. However, there are many people in lonely situations. Along with the widows and widowers, those divorced and/or separated from their spouses deal with the same loneliness.

Did you ever stop to think that even some married people have no real relationship and still live lonely lives? If we really take a look around us and study others, we’ll see there are many who live in isolation. There are latch-key children, teens who just don’t “fit” in, immigrants, many homeless people, prisoners, and those who have never married. Even those in Christian service can find themselves leading lonely lives. Illness can separate us from others. Did you know we are one of 800,000 in our ranks as of today? I certainly didn’t know that, and I realize now I’m not the only one who’s alone.

It would be too much to try to share everything discussed in the study this week, but I’ll review some nuggets meant particularly for widows.  In our situation, we know the cause of our loneliness is the loss of our spouse.

Some women in their loneliness choose to keep themselves from others. This decision by itself isn’t good. Often the pain of loss keeps one from going out and about, which only adds to the isolation. Choosing solitude as a way of life and staying away from others on a consistent basis is a wrong choice.

However, choosing to be away from others for solitude and meeting with God is a spiritual discipline we all need. Some of us choose to go on silent retreats such as I have written about in a prior blog. Spending time with God, reading His word, and talking to Him are all spiritual assets and help in healing. It should be a part of our daily routine. When we spend extended time alone thinking only about our loss and not feeding our soul and spirit encouragement, we add depression to our lives. Time spent reliving what we once had with our spouses and what we no longer have will expand our feeling of isolation. “Loneliness is always a negative experience while solitude is often positive and renewing. “ (J. Oswald Sanders “facing Loneliness” p15)

It’s true that widows face challenges they had no idea they would face. Most of us don’t know how to fix a leaky faucet or repair a broken hinge on a door, to mention only a few things. Some of us had never even hung a picture alone!  When we face these everyday things, it certainly can make us aware that we’re “alone.” Eating alone, going places alone and handling finances are just some of the things that add to isolation.

In our study, Wisdom for Widows, we discussed seven “cures” for overcoming loneliness:

  • You need to know, and accept yourself for who you are NOW. Know yourself. I had to learn that I was no longer part of the couple, “Phil and Kathy.” Widows are no longer married women, the other half of someone. I had to learn who I really am. The reality of who we were does not resemble who we are now. This doesn’t happen overnight. I remember the day that I realized that I’d become just “Kathy.”
  • Move from living FOR the dead to living WITHOUT the dead. This sounds harsh, but we do have to learn to live beyond our deceased loved one. I learned what “I” liked to do, which was sometimes different from I did as a married couple. Someone in our group said she likes to listen to different music than her husband did, and now she does. There are little things you may start to change in your life, and that’s all right. Give yourself permission to do so.
  • To face the most difficult times you need to form a plan. One lady shared that Saturdays was always her hardest day. Her husband had always planned that day, and they did things together either at home or away from home. After her husband passed away, Saturday came and she had no idea what to do, adding to her loneliness. She started making a list the night before of what she would do that day.  In fact, that’s a great idea for every day. Before you go to bed, plan the following day.  It gives you a purpose to rise each day and helps you not to wander aimlessly, feeling lost. One lady suggested leaving a paper and pencil in every room. When you’re in the room and you notice things you want to do, or should do, you can jot them down and have a reminder of these things. It was also mentioned by one lady that she couldn’t handle going to weddings alone. She learned to ask if she could bring a friend or even her niece. This allowed her to not sit alone and helped to alleviate feeling lonely or left out. Maybe you would want to ask someone to go grocery shopping with you or walking with you. Whatever you find the hardest to deal with, develop a plan.
  • Find someone needier than yourself and reach out to them. Write letters to lonely people such as prisoners or someone who can’t get out of the house. Go visit a neighbor or take a meal to someone if you have enough energy. (Grieving takes a lot of energy). Pick up the phone and call someone who’s alone or suffering. Look for opportunities.
  • Develop new relationships or renew old relationships. This can be difficult. I found that as I reached out to other widows, I, in turn, gained new friends. As you heal, you may want to start a small widow’s group. I’ve found that even though the fifth anniversary of my widowhood is approaching, the fellowship of other widows is very special for me. There is a common bond. We glean from one another. It’s a good way to develop those new relationships. I always say, “No one understands a widow better than another widow.”
  • Don’t live in denial. Sometimes a widow doesn’t want to face the death of her husband, and she postpones her grieving. However, this just delays the grieving process and eventually makes it even more painful.
  • Face your pain and don’t run from it. Grieving is painful, and the crying that goes with it is unwanted. Some widows run from allowing themselves to experience it. If you’re running away from your pain, you must turn around and face it. God gave us our tears to release our grief.

Remember, being a widow does get better, but it’s never the same. Learn to be the captain of your life. And, most important, reach out and be a comfort to others, and you will, in turn, be helping yourself to remove your loneliness.

“Turn to me and be gracious to me,

for I am lonely and afflicted.”

Psalm 25:16

God bless you,

Kathy

 

 

Thanks to Easter!


Another Easter week end has arrived. This will be the fourth Easter since my husband went home to be with the Lord.  Just over the last couple weeks, I was rather melancholy as I thought about that last Easter he was with me. I came across a picture of us on his last Easter and was amazed at how good he looked. I’m sure he had had a few treatments that had his tumors at bay for that time. Then I saw pictures of him the following month at my granddaughter’s birthday party. Again, he looked good. However, I remembered that he said he wasn’t feeling well as we left that day. The next month he was home with the Lord. The pictures of my husband that last month do not look like him. They look like an old man and just a skeleton of one at best.

All the pictures and memories have given me mixed feelings. They make me sad and make me miss him more than ever; yet, they remind me of God’s great love. I had asked God to take Phil quickly if He was not going to heal him. I didn’t want to see him suffer. That’s exactly what God did. It felt like a hurricane blew through that house and took Phil him with it. When I remember that, I think of how gracious and loving our Heavenly Father is. The pictures I have of Phil are the evidence of just that. Our Lord didn’t allow him to suffer for long. From when the doctor said Phil would have only a few months, it was three weeks.

I continue to think about God and His goodness during this week-end. Without Easter, I would have no hope. As Christ died on that cross, bearing my sins for me, He made a way for me to have that hope. As a teen-ager  At the age of 16, I realized that even though I believed in Jesus and that He died for me and rose from the grave the third day, I had never taken that fact from my head and trusted Him with my heart. Since that day, He has been with me in Spirit. I know I will spend eternity in Heaven.

I can remember many times that He prevented me from falling during all those years and held my hand through many trials. When our son was killed along with his girlfriend, even though I grieved, it was not as one without hope. I knew they both had allowed Christ into their hearts, as well, which meant that one day I would be reunited with them again in Heaven.  I knew they were safe and in His presence. I knew God had just taken two of His own.

Last evening as I sat through a special Easter service in church, commemorating Christ’s crucifixion, I realized just how much that meant to me. When I became a widow, I was not alone. I had Christ to talk to any- time day or night. I had His hand of protection, and I had His constant companionship.

Did I grieve and weep over the loss of my son and husband? Of course, I did. The Bible tells us that even our Lord wept. But I wept not as one without hope. I wept over losing my other half while I remain here on earth. I wept over the loss of my life as a wife. However, I’m not at a loss as those who don’t have the Lord.  They have no one to call out to, in their loneliness and fear. I can’t imagine living my life without knowing that He’s there by my side at all times. He even promises to be “as a husband to me.”  In Isaiah 54:4 it reads, “…For your maker is your husband…”.

The service last night commemorated Christ’s death and burial. The services tomorrow, Easter Sunday, will celebrate His resurrection! It’s because He arose and stands at the right hand of the Father that I can praise Him! That’s why I can say thanks to Easter, and I can face tomorrow!

Happy Easter!

I pray if you don’t have Christ as your Savior, this Easter season will be the time of your new birth! Ask Him to come into your heart and save you! Thank Him for dying for you!

May God bless you,

Kathy

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.

Piece by Piece


Piece by piece!  is what I thought as I looked at my husband’s reloading desk, the last of “his” areas to be cleaned out. Everything else in Phil’s cave had been moved, sold, or given away over the past 31 months.  His desk was the heart of that cave. A corner so familiar and special to me, it shouted out his name whenever I came near. I can still see him sitting there bent over his work. He enjoyed making special loads for his long-range rifles. He would twirl his chair around and look at me over the top of his glasses when I would enter to speak to him. The tools he used for so many hours still lie there. But, yes, it was time to move on. 

We all have to come to the place in our hearts when we know it’s time to “take care of” our beloved’s possessions. I have done this little by little. I took my first big step when I had what I called “a man’s yard sale.” Unfortunately, I realized too late that I wasn’t ready to part with my husband’s “toys.”  As men came and made purchases or even tried to bargain for better prices, I regretted having the sale to part with Phil’s things so quickly.

I do feel that each widow should consider carefully removing her late husband’s belongings. If you don’t need to sell them to help pay bills, wait until you’re sure you’re ready. Just don’t rush into it.

I couldn’t part with my husband’s clothes for quite some time. I removed them from the closet after just a few months, but I kept them until it didn’t hurt so badly to see them or to move them out. Even then, I sometimes gave them to my daughters and asked them to do it for me. I still have Phil’s housecoat and a few special shirts, and I’ve found I can use some of his heavy outdoor items for myself. Little by little I do notice I no longer feel the need to keep some items that months ago were near and dear to me.

I’ve kept a small drawer with a few special things of Phil’s that I’ll always keep as a memory. I also have a little display box with some items that I treasure and my daughters or grandchildren may like to have someday.

Now after almost three years since Phil’s homegoing, I’m tackling this special corner of his, which was once his private spot. As I look at the almost empty desk, I feel like more of him has gone. But it’s time. He no longer needs the things of this earth, and I must move on also. As I work on clearing out the area, I still feel like he’s going away, as well, piece by piece.  However, he’s already been gone for 31 months.

Phil is no longer a part of this life, and I’ve just entered another stage of letting go. As I look at the handwritten notes he had attached to the file cabinet next to the desk, I start to remove them.

But then…suddenly, I realize, it’s not time yet.

It still needs to be done piece by piece.

Phil's den picture (1)