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

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Words of Wisdom Nuggets Part 3 “Suffering is Universal!”


 

I look forward to the weekly Bible Study I’ve been attending now for several weeks.  As I share highlights, I trust you’ll receive even a little ray of what I’m able to glean. One thing I’ve learned is you can never be too far into your widowhood to receive a blessing from fellowship with other Christian widows, and you also are never beyond learning about any subject.

The topic for the third week was suffering. A beautiful book was read during this session and will be in the following session:  My Beautiful Broken Shell written by Carol Hamblet Adams. I shared a portion in my last posting. It’s well worth  reading that post if you haven’t done so. If you’re interested in purchasing that little book of hope, it’s available on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/My-Beautiful-Broken-Shell-Refresh/dp/0736908706.) No matter how broken we are, how much we’ve suffered or are suffering, God will give us strength to continue on if we allow Him. (The author is also a speaker and her information can be found online, as well.) http://carolhambletadams.com/speaking/

No one can live this life without experiencing suffering in some way. 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

 

 

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

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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)