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 (continued)


In our last two sessions, the book “My Beautiful Broken Shell” by Carol Hamblet Adams was read. This book would be a wonderful asset to anyone’s collection of books, especially someone who likes to encourage others. With Carol’s permission, I am going to share a few portions of her book:

This is my first morning at the ocean, and as I walk to the beach, 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

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

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.

New hope


As spring approaches each year, it always makes me think of new life and hope. As a person works his way through grief, it sometimes feels likes they will never rise above it.

Much of God’s beautiful creation does not show its’  “face” until springtime arrives. As we experience a long, cold winter we see only barren ground and bare trees. Then one day we notice little buds on the trees and tiny shoots coming up towards the light.  The sun shines a little brighter and a little longer. Seeing new life bursting forth, we realize that they things in nature aren’t dead, and they’re not something to toss aside. Instead, they are displaying God’s perfect order of His creation. In the spring they come forth fresh and invigorated again. They have completed one of God’s intended cycles of life. All of these signs I see in spring renew my hope, and I know that I also can come forth with an invigorated spirit.

Another reminder of this hope that comes with springtime is the hope that Easter brings us. Our hope isn’t in whether the sun shines, or flowers bloom. Our hope is in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that we have hope. Because He was crucified on the cross for our sins and rose again the third day we can have hope! We know that He sits at the right hand of God the Father. We know that all of His promises will be fulfilled and are being fulfilled every day.  “Because He lives that I can face tomorrow!”

This will be my second spring without my beloved Phil. However, when I think of him, I not only have hope, but I have full assurance that he too lives. He lives in a place that is beyond our human words of description. He’s been rewarded fullness of all joy! How do I know that?

I know that because God promises that if we trust in Him, and believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, if we believe that He truly did take our sins to the cross, and rose again the third day, we will live  eternally with Him. My husband did confess with His mouth that Christ is Lord and believed in Him.

I also know that not only does God love my husband, but he also loves me. God has a plan for me also. At this time of the year I am reminded that as long as I continue to love and follow my Savior and Lord, I can always rise above my loss. He promises in Isaiah 43:2 that He will never let the waters overtake you.  I can rise above my loss if I trust Him and allow Him to take my hand and lead me.

Not only does God have an intricate plan for the nature He created for us, but He also has a plan for each one of His children. When God fulfilled His plan for our loved ones and allowed them to go to His glorious home, He did not forget us. He has a plan for each one of us who remain. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He put a new song in my mouth…” Psalm 40: 1-3. I feel excitement with this new season coming upon us, and can rest in peace as I walk each day in His plan for me!

My prayer for each of you who are grieving is that you will be able to feel hope in the midst of your sorrow. God has not forgotten you.

For those of you who do not have Christ as your Savior, and therefore, can have no peace, my prayer is that you will look to the cross and receive Him this Easter season. It was during the Easter season many years ago that I received my faith. You can have the hope that only Christ can give.  I pray that you will seek Him now.

*Feel free to email me if I can be of help to you. Christ said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37*

Why, God?


The following is an excerpt from my book “God Never Fails.” This section is talking about the time God taught me not to ask why.

“Kiersten has acute leukemia.”

My sister’s devastating words were on the other end of that phone call.  Kiersten was my beloved niece who was just four years old. During the year that followed, my sister and family lived in the vicious cycle of that big “C” world.

Since my husband and I lived 98 miles from my family, we watched and suffered with them from a distance as their daughter fought for her life. We watched as she lost her hair and grew new, dark, curly hair in its place. We watched, from afar, as that sweet  angelic child went through painful treatments far from home. I watched while she and her mother lived in hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses for weeks at a time, leaving the other three children with our parents. Kiersten’s father divided his time between work, home chores, and staying with his daughter at the hospital.

We heard how little “Ki-Ki” braved the storm that lay before her. One time she stood up front in her church and sang “Jesus Loves Me” all by herself before leaving for her bone marrow transplant. Did she know it would be her last time in her beloved church?  A few weeks later, we listened to my sister telling us that the child was suffering inhumanly while her body fought against itself, rejecting the transplant. Yet, we were in awe to also hear how she and her parents continued to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and other favorite songs in the midst of that suffering.

Late one night, we received a call from my sister asking us to “pray for God to take Kiersten home.” The next morning she was in her Savior’s arms.

It was at that time that I cried out to God, “Why? Why? Why did you have to take her? Why didn’t you heal her?” As I sit at my desk now, I can visualize the exact place I was when I heard my Lord whisper in my heart, “You would not understand if I were to tell you.”

Instantly, the Bible verse Proverbs 3: 5: “Lean not unto thine own understanding …” became very clear to me. “Your mind is too finite,” he whispered in my heart. I fully understood then, as I do now, that our finite, small minds, much more like an ant’s brain compared to God’s, simply can’t understand the events our God has planned. We must only trust because we never could understand even if he were to tell us the “why” of every situation.

It is very natural for us to wonder why things happen to us or our loved ones. There is nothing wrong in asking this. However, we need to be careful to trust our Lord that although in most circumstances God’s ways just do not make sense to us, He makes no mistakes. The verse above reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  Isaiah 55:8 & 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God loves us more than we could ever imagine. He can only do good.

When my husband went home to be with His Lord, I never asked God why. I had settled that issue so many years ago with the death of little “Ki-Ki,” and I never felt the need to ask that question again. We all need to find peace in our hearts that we can trust the Lord. Then we can hold His hand with the trust and faith of a child. It is then that God can lead us on the uncertain and new paths that lie before us.

I pray that you do all have this trust. Please feel free to contact me if you so desire. I would welcome the opportunity to be able to talk with you. You can contact me through the comments section below or via email, kbellows60@yahoo.com

Kathy

Quiet my heart Lord


10-31-1012  written during a battle…of sorrow…won with the Lord.

Oh my soul, why art thou dishearten within me?

Knowest thou not that God is with me? Do not look back! Keep your hands to the plow and your face forward! Or better yet, heavenward. How can one feel so calm in their spirit for days, even weeks, and then fall so far in the other direction? Why does my heart suddenly yearn for my loved one so very deeply tonight?

Why did my mind take me back to the days, weeks, just prior to my dearest husband’s death? Why did I need to remember the night I sat up on the couch and sobbed loudly, awakening him from deep sleep? Why must I remember that sweet man, rising from his couch to shuffle over to me try to comfort me? Or why must I remember the time I started quietly crying in the restaurant after his last treatment? I can hear him now responding to my apology, “It’s alright. I would be the same if I were you.”

Did I say all of the things I feel now would have been important to have said? But does it really matter? Why must I allow Satan to torment me? My soul, arise up and pick the torch back up. Continue to be a comforter, not one that needs comforted. Know that you have loved and been loved, and that is one of the greatest gifts here on earth. Know that you are surrounded by the extension of that love daily by his children and grandchildren. You have been left comfortable and well taken care of. You can look everywhere and see where your beloved’s  hand has been and where he left a reminder of himself. Faint not. Forge on ahead and continue to pave the path for others to walk on after you too are gone.

All the possessions left here will deteriorate unused. But the memories, the love, the example in dying, will be remembered in my heart and soul for as long as I am still here.

God, lift me up again, that I may hold my head high and forge forward again. Please give me wisdom in all areas of life. Keep my path straight. Thank you Lord, for giving me all your promises and for fulfilling them day by day.  Thank you for never failing me.  My soul is lighter once again, Lord.  I will praise your holy name forever.