Monday, January 23, 2017

Valentine's Day Ideas

It's only 3 weeks away! 

This year I have a widows group meeting during February, so we will try to go through it together. I think I will invite them over for a "tea party" luncheon. I'll ask them all to bring something to share for the meal, and also a momento to tell a bit about their husband. It won't be mandatory, but I think widows need to talk and this is a natural opportunity.

Do you think you'll want to mark Valentine's Day this year? It's a hard holiday to face alone! Let's admit it can be a challenge, but there are some ways to deal with it. Keep reading for some ideas, and please add your own in the comments.       
First, you might be able to transform it by thinking ahead and planning to do something different. If you want to pretend the day doesn't exist and not acknowledge it at all, that's okay too. I often find that people deal with sorrow in two different ways: 
  • remember/memorialize it
  • or choose to leave it alone. It's in the past, its been dealt with, and its time for the next chapter.
Depending on your background and personality, both of these methods can work. There's a third way too---have a pity party, but that won't get us anywhere.

If you'd like to memorialize the day or give yourself something to look forward to, here are a variety of things that might be meaningful for you: 
  • Visit the cemetary and leave a message of candy conversation hearts to melt into the snow
  • Tie a home-made Valentine to a helium balloon and let it fly away to heaven
  • Collect old Valentines and love letters and put them together in a decorative memory box keepsake.
  • Create a collage of photos and frame it to hang on a wall or stand on your dresser.
  • Buy a package or two of school Valentine cards. Send them to your own children, nieces & nephews or other family members. Write a little love note on them.
  • Or send Valentines to various groups--nursing homes, children's hospital wards, missionary kids you pray for, your childrens' ministry leaders, your Bible study group or group leaders . . .
  • Offer to babysit for a married couple so they can enjoy a romantic evening out. Prepare a lot of fun things to do with the kids so you don't end up bored and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Invite other widows over for tea or coffee and snacks, or a carry-in lunch or supper. Give them an opportunity to share their stories and send them home with a love verse from the Bible.
  • Plan something nice for yourself: learn something new, like . . . Sign up for Zumba lessons or Jazzercise. Take piano or guitar lessons (or take that first step and visit your local music store and ask about them); then rent a flute, violin or whatever and practice to audition for the local orchestra! Ask about singing with your church group or community choir. Volunteer at a food pantry or ask about a part-time job at something that interests you. Take a course at a community college. . .
--hey, I'm getting carried away here, but you get the idea. Plan some 
fun
and show

 yourself
some love and kindness.

And if you want to skip it altogether? THAT'S PERFECTLY OK TOO! Sometimes that's the best way to be kind to yourself and it has nothing to do with that over-used and often misapplied word "denial." Don't worry about it. 
  
I'd love to hear your ideas for the day this year and also what you've done in the past. Other widows love reading your comments and find them a big help.

♥ ferree

Monday, January 16, 2017

Honest Gratitude In the Midst of Grief

Here's a message my widow friend Lisa recently sent out on Facebook. She had followed my advice about a "Blessing Jar" for all of 2016! I think you'll be almost as encouraged as she was when she saw the honesty and change it brought to her outlook.

Did you notice I just used the word "honesty?"

As Christians we can be honestly thankful every day. No matter what, God's blessings are in operation and they do surround us. A Blessing Jar helps us recognize them. To refuse to acknowledge or see them --- I daresay that's dishonest. I'm not saying we're happy or thankful our husbands are gone, but rather that in spite of loss, we are still blessed by God's faithfulness and goodness demonstrated by the friends and provision He gives us. How many blessings can you list for today?

It's not too late to start your Blessing Jar. Click here to see how I've been doing it for the past few years.
Lisa C. feeling blessed.
My Blessings Jar.
Wow is that full! I started out in January writing something down every single day. I needed a daily reminder that there were blessings in my life. As the year began to unfold I realized I wasn't having to make a point to put a note in the jar because I was seeing the blessings more clearly. So as I read them today they have brought happy tears to my eyes. Because even though I don't like where my life is right now, and as I know my grief is changing me and I'm not yet my 'new self' I'm reminded of all the things that are right in my life. I made a lot of new friends and continued to nurture my existing friendships. My family continued to love and support me. I went on some great trips. Did we get together this year for a meal or a drink? Did we have a phone or text conversation this year? Did we go see a movie? Then you have been one of my many blessings. And I thank you for that. I'm going to get myself a new (bigger) jar for 2017 and I'll put a lid on this jar and put it on my bookshelf. #Blessings2016

P.S. Last year I offered free labels for the blessing jar--- here's a link to the post that inspired Lisa to start her blessing jar. ferree

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Great Help for Daily Bible Reading

Welcome to Widows Christian Place! Of course, I'm sorry for the reason you're here, but this is a good place to stop in for strength and encouragement on your journey through grief. This blog started way back in 2010, and today I'm re-posting something from 2011 that fits so well with the Bible reading plan mentioned last week. 

Just like your body needs healthy food during grief, so, too, your soul needs the wholesome nourishment found in the Bible. Please realize that a reading plan is just a structure, not a slave driver. Grieving is distracting and chaotic, so a plan is a great help! If/when you fail to keep up, don't bother trying to catch up on what you missed, just start fresh with the current day.

My 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 notebooks
One essential tool that has become my key to discovering treasures and refreshment in God's Word is a 5" x 7" notebook. See the picture of the notebooks I've kept since 2008? (I now have 5 more years, 2012 - 2016!)

I've kept journals, diaries and notebooks all my life and the assorted sizes and bindings are as scattered as my thoughts. But I finally found the 5" x 7" spiral-bound page is just right for me for several reasons.
  • It's not a large sheet of paper daring me to fill it up
  • It's a great size to stack with my Bible and other books
  • I can easily stuff it in a purse or carry-on
  • It only costs around $2.00
  • There are pretty ones out there that don't look like school work (very important!)
  • And if, while I'm reading my Bible I remember I need to buy some milk, light bulbs, socks, etc, I can scribble those down and rip out the page without ruining the whole book---you can't do that with a journal or diary binding.
I also like the front pocket where I keep a tiny calendar and grocery lists. It comes in handy! And there's an elastic page holder to keep it from flipping open if I'm out and about.
Here's how I use these notebooks during my Bible-reading time. (This is so easy!)
As you can see, I just jot down the date and the verse,
sometimes more, sometimes less.

1. Pray. I tell God I'm ready to listen to Him, to learn what He wants me to learn, and to do what He tells me to do. If I feel convicted of sin at this point I confess it and seek His forgiveness. I usually feel very welcomed into God's presence.                                                                 
2. Read. Then I read the scheduled verses for the day. I mentally note the ones that impress me the most. Sometimes there are so many I don't have time to finish the reading.                                         
3. Write. Then I open the notebook. I select one or two of the verses that impressed me most of all, and I simply copy them word for word into the notebook. Sometimes I have to add why the verse spoke to me--like, sometimes it speaks directly about my circumstances or feelings on that very day. But often it seems rather random. That's cool, too, because very often when I read back through my notebook, those "random" verses set a pattern of what God is telling me over a period of a few days, or a week, or a year!
4. Pray. Ideally, I end the time in prayer, sometimes on my knees, sometimes just relaxed. I thank God for speaking to me through the Bible, and ask Him to help me be mindful of Him throughout the rest of the day.     
I feel kind of "exposed" sharing all this because it is rather personal, but I hope you'll see that developing a personal time with God every day doesn't have to be a mystery reserved for only the super spiritual, saintly types (I sure don't fit that category!)
Are you ready to try this?
You only need three things.
1. A Bible. (Let me know if you don't have one and I'll help get one for you if you're in the USA).
2. A Bible reading guide. Find one through your church or look over the plan I posted last week.
3. A notebook. I buy mine at any discount store---a drug store, dollar store, or Walmart usually have them. I'll bet there's one near you, too. Pick out your notebook when you go there to get a gallon of milk. :) God blesses us in these common places!
♥ ferree

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Prayer for Widows in the New Year

A Prayer for Widows Facing a New Year

What a privilege to bring to our God the smallest to largest of our heart's desires. I hope this prayer helps you look ahead without dread to 2017, and opens our eyes to the life of adventure and purpose God has in store for each of us.

Psalm 23 is a classic funeral passage, but we can carry it beyond the cemetery. Discover the rich promise it holds for the year ahead. Put Psalm 23 in your own words and make it your own as I've done here. I'd love to see your version so feel free to share it in the comments if you'd like. As you hold God's word in your heart He will hold you in His. I pray that you may see the abundant blessings of God in 2017.  ♥ ferree

Dear Lord,

1. Please be my shepherd in this year ahead. 
You know my needs, so help me learn to follow where you lead. 
With you as my shepherd I'll not be in want.

2. You'll make me lie down in green pastures and lead me beside quiet waters.
(Oh, I do hate to sit still, though! Help me to recognize your plan and cooperate with your program, Lord! I see where it says that you'll make me lie down . . . how much easier if I'd only follow your lead!)

3. You'll restore my soul. (How I need that!)
You'll guide me in righteous pathways.

4. Even though I walk through the valley of death,
there's no reason to fear for you are with me.
Your protection and discipline guard me and bring me comfort.
Even when surrounded by enemies who want to steal my peace,

5. you prepare a table full of all that I need.
Your anointing heals me.
My life overflows with your abundance. (Really? Yes! But all I see is loss right now, please help me!)

6. Surely goodness and love will follow me,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Thank you Lord, for your presence and for the place you've prepared for me.

Amen

Friday, December 30, 2016

Daily Bible Reading Plan Specially Designed for Widows

Dear friend,
Daily Bible reading is God speaking to YOU! It's not something we have to do, it's a privilege we get to do! Would you like an audience with a king, president, or even your pastor but they're too busy for you? Yet the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of your soul from hell, has given us his wonderful words. They work to direct us, to love us, and to comfort us. Let them speak to you every day this year. Copy the calendar below, paste it into a Word document and hit print so you can keep it in your Bible.

Overview:

This Bible reading plan is something I've been working on for over a year and I'm very excited about it because it's specially designed for grieving people and widows. I know that we all have good intentions, but during the first year or two of widowhood it's nigh unto impossible to try to read through the entire Bible in one year. Don't set yourself up for failure! Following this plan will help you read through the entire New Testament, selected Psalms, and the books of Proverbs and Ruth.

Special features:

  • Most months will start with a portion of Psalm 119 to remind us of the wonders and benefits of God's Word. 
  • The four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are spread throughout the year, one for each season. Ruth is read in April, the month corresponding to the barley harvest in Israel. 
  • Proverbs is read in September so we can store up nuggets of wisdom for the holidays and other challenges of life. 
  • I'm especially excited about the Psalms I've selected! They are to paired with New Testament passages so you can experience the rich wisdom and cohesiveness of Scripture and the doctrinal foundations of our faith. Plus you will find the heartfelt laments of Psalms which comfort and resolve our grief. 
  • Everything else is chronologically ordered as best as possible while keeping each month self-contained so books do not overflow from one month to another. If you miss some days of readings you will have a fresh start the next month. 
  • * means widows are mentioned in the chapter!

If reading each day is too much at this time, decide to read only certain books, or the Psalms, or only on particular days of the week. The choice is yours to use this as you see fit. In any case I know that the Lord will bless your time in his Word!

January 2017


Sunday
Monday
Tues.
Wed.
Thurs.
Friday
Sat.
1
2
3
4
5

6
7
Start the year in church
Psalm 119:1-16
Matt. 1*
Psalm 130
Matt. 2
Psalm 72
Matt. 3
Matt. 4
Psalm 37
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
Matt. 5
Matt. 6
Psalm 145
Matt. 7
Matt. 8
Matt. 9
Matt. 10
Matt. 11
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Matt. 12
Matt. 13
Matt. 14
Matt. 15
Matt. 16
Psalm 62
Matt. 17
Matt. 18
Psalm 34
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
Matt. 19
Matt. 20
Matt. 21
Matt. 22*
Matt. 23
Psalm 11 Psalm 122
Matt. 24
Matt. 25
29
30
31
Matt. 26
Matt. 27
Matt. 28