Monday, March 18, 2019

Widows Group: Naomi's Ministry in Alban, PA

Getting ready to kick-off into their second year of ministry, the Naomi's Ministry in Alban, PA continues to blossom and grow. Denise Sweeney sent me a description and some of the ways that she and co-leader Carol Eskridge get the word out about their weekly group.

I'm delighted to share their ideas here so you can adapt them to start your own group at your church.

First, the pictures, then follow through to see the good stuff Denise told me. (If you're viewing this on your phone and the photos don't show, try clicking on the title so you can get to the actual site).

 This is their brochure. At the top you'll see:
*Naomi's Ministry (named after Naomi from the Book of Ruth in the Bible) *their mission statement in a nutshell--widows helping widows
At the bottom:
*the church name and address
On the back (not pictured):
*contact info for Carol and Denise with their names, phone #s and email addresses.

Inside the brochure it says "As widows, we are on a journey that God has chosen for us. It's a difficult one, but God has told us in His Word that we are special to His heart." (II Corinthians 1:3-4  and I Peter 5:10 are printed out in full in case you can't see it in my fuzzy photo).




I love this idea---the folded standing up card is simply an altered version of the front of the brochure. It's printed on card stock, blank on the inside, and may be used for notecards or at luncheons for place marks, etc.

This last photo displays the promo sheet for their start up which was a luncheon for widows at their church. They also created a questionnaire to gather information about each attendee and their interests, and also discover additional ideas for ways that a widows group could effectively minister.
The group has since invited speakers from their church who are professionals in estate and financial planning and they've taken day trips and more! They always have announcements in the church programs and good support from the office staff and pulpit--which is very important! Please read on for more from Denise.
   
What is the main thing you do? 

·        Our main purpose is to offer support love and encouragement to Widows. To give them a safe place that they can come and share their pain, cry and grieve with others who understands. No one can really understand what a widow is going through better than another widow.

·        We have done book studies (Postcards from a Widows Path, From One Widow to Another, and others).

·        Once a month we meet at a local pizza place for a change of pace. On those nights we do a devotional and share a meal and just enjoy being together.

·        We have done trips together. This past November we went to Lancaster to the Sight and Sound Theatre to see the show JESUS. Afterward we had a wonderful meal together.  We have also done day trips to the shore and Lancaster to shop and have lunch together. And the ladies also enjoy getting together for lunch or dinner. Not the entire group but maybe 3 or 4 of the ladies will do that between meetings. The ladies have really bonded and truly enjoy spending time together. On special occasions we will go out to a nicer place for dinner to celebrate holidays and such. We also do weekly prayer requests and praises for answered prayers.

·        We are coming up on our 2nd year anniversary. We plan to celebrate by having a High Tea at our church on March 30th. We also plan on inviting Widows from other local churches to come to find out more about our group.

·        One more thing that I forgot to mention. We have also had meetings with guest speakers. For example: we had a financial planner from our church come and explain to the ladies how to take over and manage our funds (or lack there of). He explained budgeting, insurance needs, etc. We also had an estate lawyer, again from our church, come to explain wills, POA’s living wills, etc.  These people were able to offer advice that was so valuable to the Widows during a time of confusion and not being sure what they should or should not be doing.

How did your group get started?

·        Our group got started after reading “Postcards from a Widows Path.”

·        God just really put it on my heart the need for a ministry to the Widows at our church. Once the idea got started, God graciously opened doors for us to get started.

·        Carol Eskridge and I presented our plans to the Women’s Ministry at our Church. From there, we presented the idea to the Church Committee. We received encouragement, support and approval from all concerned.

·        Our first meeting was held on March 25, 2017. We placed announcements in our church bulletin, along with passing out flyers and inviting Widows that we knew personally. We held a luncheon at our church to share what we would like to offer to Widows. We told the ladies how very much God Loves and Cares for Widows and how we hoped that our group could help share God’s love with them.


·        God has been so faithful to Carol and me over these last two years and we have seen amazing growth and blessings in the ladies of Naomi’s Ministry
Thank you Denise, and may God use this to plant other widow ministries!
Do you have a widows group going too? I'd love to hear about it! Please email me at WCplace@gmail.com 
Thank for visiting here today,
ferree



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

😧 I'm a bit embarrassed! I just discovered that many comments haven't been posted for the last several months! And here I thought it was because nobody was reading this blog! Well, your comments are so precious to me! They are the bonuses and benefits of doing this blog. I apologize for the oversight and I think/hope they are now published as far back as Thanksgiving. Keep on writing, and I will too. 


ferree

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Widows Link Cruise

At the Widow's Journey Retreat I was so pleased to meet a "missionary to widows" --Marlene Craft. Wow! What a wonderful concept and ministry! In 2015 Marlene became the first missionary to widows with the Assemblies of God denomination. I want to explore her website more but I also want to let you know about A CRUISE FOR WIDOWS she hosts. This will be the 5th year, and it's growing and growing. I imagine the weekend retreat I was just at and having 6 days together instead of just 2-- it'd be a wonderful, life-enhancing, growing time with the Lord.
The registration is coming up quick--March 21. UPDATE: It's been changed to May 15! yay! I hope some of you can go! Contact Marlene at her website Widows Link  if you have any questions.
💗ferree



Monday, March 11, 2019

Can people in heaven look down and see us?

Dear Friends,
     Have you ever wondered if people in heaven look down and see us?
     This isn't a weird question if you have a loved one who has died. If you've wondered about it, rest assured that many others have too. It came up in my small group at A Widow's Journey Retreat earlier this month and all the ladies were very interested.
     Pastor John Piper at www.desiringGod.org addresses the question with a compassionate and best-as-we-can-know calm that you will appreciate. I'm not able to imbed or copy it onto my site today, but if you click on the following link you'll find both the audio and written version. The audio is only eight minutes long and well worth the time.
     You can listen to it and/or read the text right here.
     Some may find it a little unnerving to think that we are being "watched." (And please don't ever tell a child that "Daddy is watching you." The younger ones will be looking out the window for him and the older ones will think you're batty).  But I don't think it's like that at all, it's not about judgment or loneliness. And I'm sure there are better things to do in heaven than watch us. If they do occasionally look this way I like to think it's when we need to feel them cheering us on, don't you?
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured … Hebrews 12:1,2a NASB
     "Together on this marathon, we run for our lives. The track twists, turns, and changes unexpectedly. At certain points we trip and fall. But on the horizon, eternity stretches out...our finish line. Along the path, like spectators along the course... your loved ones and mine--urge us on.
     God, too, is there. He watches. He urges.
     He knows you and me. Whether you have entered this race as a young mother, a retiree, or somewhere in between--we never signed up for this club--but the marathon has begun.
     Listen as you run, as you struggle and strain.
     Do you hear the cheers from the heavenly grandstand?
     Faintly, faintly they begin from afar."
(adapted from chapter one of Postcards from the Widows' Path). ðŸ’— 



Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Widow's Journey Retreat 2019 - Kathy's Experience

Here's another note about the weekend from Kathy, a Facebook and blog friend. About ten ladies who either follow this blog or Facebook attended this year and we met in the dining room for supper on Friday night. It was really sweet fellowship. All in all I think there were around 130 in attendance. 
💗 ferree


Met face to face this weekend with God and looked deep into my steps on this journey of widowhood.
Met face to face this weekend with God and found community with others who are on a similar journey.
Met face to face this weekend with God and heard His Word through Gayle Roper as she described the journey to be unknown to us - but God knows; to be unseen by us - but God sees; unexpected by us - but God is there; to know we are not destroyed because God renews.
Met face to face this weekend with God and discovered through Margaret Rineer the importance of snuggling in, closer to our Lord.
Met face to face this weekend with God and heard Sarah Schieber’s story of firm resolve through intentional laying of a foundation in Christ, of God’s faithfulness and the circumstances of our lives do not change who God is.
Met face to face this weekend with God and learned of the stage of being poured from Jennifer Kennedy Dean.
Met face to face with God this weekend and uncovered some deep moments of grief and the importance of staying in His Word when I can not breathe, can not calm this racing heart, can not think, can not stop the flow of tears, can not embrace the sadness that envelopes my whole being ..... when all I can do is be still before the King of Kings.

Widow's Journey Retreat 2019 - Sue's Experience

Hi Everyone! 
Remember the Widow's Journey Retreat I've been hoping you all could come to? Well, it happened over the weekend, and some of you came! I'm back into the crush and rush of the usual now but it was an excellent retreat and I'll be posting some comments and photos over the next couple days.
By the way ... Now's the time to put it on your calendar too: Save the date--- March 6 - 8, 2020. Cost includes all your meals, room, and registration. Price per person depends on how many people you share the room with. (Stay with women you know, they do not assign roommates). It's $219 Quad, $269 Triple, $319 Double, or $429 Single. If you can set aside $20 - $36/ month this year you've got the weekend covered, just add travel.  
The following is from Sue. She posted it on Facebook the other day and gave me permission to copy it here. I'm so glad she's planning to go next year already! 
💗 ferree

Just back from a wonderful Christian widows’ retreat at Sandy Cove in North East, MD. I was particularly thrilled to meet the authors of two of the best books for widows, Gayle Roper, “A Widow’s Journey,” and Ferree Hardy, “Postcards from the Widows’ Path," and get them to sign my copies. I’m also in Ferree’s FaceBook group; it was great to meet her and a few of the other members who attended. 

Below: 1. the signed title pages, 2. Ferree and me. 3. sunset on Chesapeake Bay. This was an uplifting and fun weekend in a lovely location. I met such a marvelous group of strong ladies! Looking forward to going back next year!



Monday, February 25, 2019

Why Don't More Churches Do Widows Ministry?

Too many widows ask me this question because there's a dreadful and shameful void in church ministry. Don't church leaders realize that widows are mentioned from Genesis to Revelation? As long as there’s been death there have been widows. Thousands of women and men become widowed every day!


Don't church leaders know that widows are the only specific group of people mentioned at the three most important, pivotal events in history? The United States has become a nation of “special interest groups,” but it seems that God has always held widows as his “special interest group.” Let’s look at those three important events. Stay with me, this is an important foundation but I'll make it brief.
1. When the Law of Israel Was Given
At the founding of Israel, God revealed The 10 Commandments plus many other laws for daily life and religion. These laws are interspersed throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy of the Old Testament. Its extensive reading—over 100 tiny-print pages in my Bible! It’s all about actions and consequences, crime and punishment. In general terms it was “an eye for an eye.” Like today, people were judged by people. When someone was found guilty the community carried out the verdict and punishment.
Keep that background in mind because when it came to harm against widows (and orphans), God didn’t leave judgment up to mere people. Exodus 22:22-24 declares that God, himself, would execute judgment on one who afflicted the widow or the fatherless! God made it clear that unlike other nations of the time, the widows and orphans of Israel were to be protected and free from harm and mistreatment. This law set God’s people apart as compassionate and responsible. It also implied that widows and orphans needed extra help. Hello! Although we can argue that we're not under Old Testament law, the principle is that God was especially concerned for widows and orphans and his concern has not changed. Churches are missing a blessing, and perhaps facing consequences for neglecting widows and orphans.

2. The Birth of Christ
At the birth of Jesus Christ widows were honored to be in the genealogy of Christ. The family tree of Jesus listed in Matthew 1 is very unusual. Most genealogies in the Bible only listed men, but Matthew 1 mentions five women, and most of them were widowed at one point or another! They mattered! Two thousand years after the birth of Christ we read and remember their names. Did they try to earn that special honor? Did they volunteer for the position? No, but there was something about them that the Lord saw and wanted to use as an example to us. They left a legacy of faithfulness, persistence and courage in spite of hardships. Widows leave the same today. Death never comes at a convenient time; seldom is one ever prepared. The courage and faith I’ve seen demonstrated by the widows I’ve met over the years is incredible.   
And who was the first woman to tell the world about Jesus? When Mary and Joseph took baby Jesus to the temple, Luke 2:36-38 (NIV) tells us, “There was also a prophet, Anna…She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Unlike some cultures which shunned and ostracized their widows, at the birth of Jesus, an elderly widow spoke up in the temple with the good news of salvation. God put her in the right place at the right time and she stepped up to the task with a thankful heart and joyous words. Oh, how she must have been ready to burst with excitement!
3. The Beginning of the Church

At the founding of the church in Acts there’s only one group of people assigned provision and watch care by the finest of the disciples—its widows, of course! (Acts 6:1-3).
The earliest book of the New Testament is the book of James, written around 45-48 A.D. One of the first commands is in James 1:27—that widows and orphans are visited in their times of distress.

From the many loving notes tucked into the book orders I receive each month it’s clear that certain individuals are caring for and visiting widows. I’m so happy to see that. But I also see churches that have their ladies Bible studies, youth groups, men’s’ groups, patriotic and veterans services, Sunday Schools and hospital visitation programs. They budget for building programs, music, landscaping, advertising, etc. I have to wonder—what do they do for widows? What does the church budget say about widows?


The Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark about what to do for widows, nor about who exactly should do it. First Timothy 5 beautifully outlines their care. Family members like children and grandchildren are the first to put their religion into practice by helping out. Other women in the family are next. Then the rest of the local church is better able step in and care for the ones left without family. But everyone visits when they are in distress. Thing is, though, people don’t usually know if a widow is in distress unless they visit so the church should somehow stay connected with her and not force her to ask for help when she's in distress. This isn't easy, I know, but I don't think we can sweep it aside and not do it if we really want to follow Scripture. 
Finally, if you look at all the books in the Bible, there are two books named after women: Ruth and Esther. Ruth was a widow and Esther was an orphan! Scripture would be incomplete without them and we as a people are incomplete without widows and orphans. Their needs are opportunities for God to be glorified. It’s wrong to overlook them or to hopefully assume that they're loaded with Social Security and life insurance benefits. Many godly widows do not have enough of either.
Death is not random or optional, it’s a part of life. Widowhood is a difficult journey, but there are gems of wisdom to gather along the way. There is joy unspeakable, and moments full of glory for both the widow walking by faith and for the people walking alongside her.  Ecclesiastes 7:4 tells us that the wise are in the house of mourning. Widows pay a high price for that wisdom and many of them would love to share it with people who will stop by and ask. Seldom will they speak out, so draw it out of your widow friends when the time is right.
God treasures widows as his “special interest group.” Shouldn’t everyone, especially the church? God doesn’t overlook them. They matter to him! They have an indisputable place in his kingdom and their influence, legacies, courage and faith testify generation after generation. They should receive special treatment in the church--or at the very least as much support and acknowledgement as the youth group or the landscaping.