Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Best Advice for Widows

Here's some of the best advice for widows:

For physical health 1. Exercise every day. 2. Eat right.
For spiritual health 1. (Exercise) Pray every day. 2. (Eat) Read the Bible every day.

When you stick to these basics the grief will have less of a chance to become complicated and add to your struggles. I know it sounds too easy, but it's the truth!

Do you notice how they correlate, the physical and the spiritual sides? Prayer is spiritual exercise, and the Bible is our spiritual food! You can care for your body and keep it healthy, and you can care for your soul's health too. No one else can ever do this for you--not even a husband. 

If you've never been in the habit of daily Bible reading and prayer it's not too late to start. Today is the perfect day to do it! There are many plans you can easily find on the Internet, but why not follow my Bible reading plan for widows? It's only 1 - 2 chapters a day (because I know how hard it is to concentrate). You can start anytime during the year because each month can stand alone. Click here and copy it to a blank page so you can print it off. 

Today our Bible reading includes a prayer too--God isn't a slave driver--your reading and prayer is all in one here. I've put the prayer in italics for you in these verses at the end of today's reading of Psalm 33 (NIV). Aren't these verses perfect for a widow to adopt as her attitude? 


We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield. 
21 
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.


O N ' t   !! 
Don't forget the prizes I'm offering this month, it's not too late to catch up! 
July only---the first 10 people to email me when they have completed this reading schedule will receive a free book! At the end of the month, July 31, I'll tell you how. Now, on your mark, get set, GO!
ferree

Monday, July 3, 2017

Instant Friends

Have you ever met people and felt an instant friendship? It happens to me 99% of the time when I get to meet widows and other people who've read my book or my monthly column in Just Plain Values magazine, or who follow this blog or have joined my confidential groups for widows on Facebook.

BUT THE COOLEST THING is when I can connect widows I know with each other and they can experience instant friendship too! This happened two weeks ago when I got together with Cathy, Nancy and Pam from the Seattle area. They'd never met each other either, but we all had an amazing time of fellowship because of Jesus Christ and what He means to each of us as we've followed Him on this widows journey.
June 19 from left to right:
me, Cathy, Nancy, Pam at Wild Fin American Grill
on the waterfront in Tacoma, WA 
If you'd like some instant friends online here are a few ways to connect:
  • 1. To join my Facebook group, send me a friend request on Facebook PLUS a personal message saying "Lifeboat."
  • 2. Comment on blog posts and share your thoughts. This is a great benefit to you as you put words to your experience, it helps others know they are not alone and they learn from your hard-earned wisdom.
  • 3. Visit other blogs in my blog roll and comment on them. You can use an anonymous identity if you want but I find it helpful if you put your first name or initials at the end of the comment, like you're signing a letter.
Begin to reach out to widows in your local community too. If there are no widows ministries in your area then google GriefShare to find a good starting point by attending a session in your area.

Join me in attending A Widows Journey at Sandy Cove (Maryland, near Philadelphia), March 2- 4, 2018! Or have your church bring me to speak to your widows group--it's a great way to kick off a widows ministry. I only ask that they cover the cost of my travel, give me a place to sleep if it's overnight, and let me bring along one of the most effective helps for widows--Postcards from the Widows' Path.

Well, that's a lot to consider as we head into this week. Holidays like 4th of July can be especially lonesome, (I KNOW! Read "Happy 4th of July--NOT" ), so I will be especially praying for you.

If you have any trouble using the links today, either look this up on your computer instead of your phone, or go directly to this blog by clicking the title "Instant Friends" instead of staying in email.

ferree

Thursday, June 29, 2017

July Bible Reading Plan for Widows

Oh my! The heat has gotten to me so I'm going to go overboard and set out a wild challenge! Copy and print this page so you can tuck it in your Bible and get ready to start.
July only---the first 10 people to email me when they have completed this reading schedule will receive a free book! At the end of the month I'll tell you how. Now, on your mark, get set, GO!
ferree

July 2017


Sunday
Monday
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Friday
Sat

1






Psalm
119:81
-96

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
I Cor. 1
I Cor. 2
I Cor. 3
I Cor. 4
I Cor. 5
I Cor. 6
I Cor. 7
Ps. 24
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
I Cor.
8,9
I Cor.
10
Psalm
106
I Cor.
11
I Cor.
12
I Cor.
13
Ps. 39


I Cor.
14
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
I Cor.
15
I Cor.
16
Psalm
33
II Cor.
1
II Cor.
2
II Cor.
3

II Cor.
4
Ps. 116
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
II Cor.
5
II Cor.
6
II Cor.
7
Ps. 30
II Cor.
8
II Cor.
9
II Cor.
10
II Cor.
11
30
31





II Cor.
12
II Cor.
13





Monday, June 12, 2017

Father's Day Focus


When Father’s Day rolls around every June it’s a secret struggle for most widows and for me too. For years I’ve tried to avoid thinking about it too much. My own father, my two fathers-in-law, my husband (I’m remarried), and my son who’s now a father will all receive their due. I love them all dearly and rejoice they are in my life! But there’s one person whose absence is always on the landscape of my heart. I don’t grieve anymore, but I still miss my first husband, the father of my children. My husband, Tom, understands. He was widowed too, and Mother’s Day holds the same for him.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are two holidays that put a painful divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those who don’t have parents, or spouses, or the opportunity to be mothers and fathers buckle up and endure the day. The “haves” gather together, telephone, or send cards and gifts to their loved ones, and well they should. Life is precious and love expresses itself through these holidays. But for those who have lost loved ones it’s complicated. If you’re one of the “haves” and one of the “have nots” at the same time the turmoil isn’t easy to describe, explain, express or resolve.

Father’s Day is hard enough for adults; how hard must it be for the children? I recently heard that many people who don’t believe in God happen to have a painful experience like the death of someone they loved in their past. My own children bear that out and my heart has broken innumerable times for them.

When I was widowed I had no guidance about my children and no widows my age to compare notes with. I didn’t know what my widow friend Myra wisely told me years later, “In saving your kids, you save yourself.” Her husband died of a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve when their two daughters were ages five and seven. Now, almost 20 years later, a close-knit family with added sons-in-law and good memories has emerged.

If you’re more like me than Myra, though, if you’ve had some parenting failures because of grief and the pressures of widowhood, remember it’s never too late to start doing right. Let’s use Father’s Day as a time to start over. Although it's a day that can really sting, ignoring it doesn’t do any good. It'll come again next year. What our children need more than two parents is one parent who loves them enough to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They don’t need a parent who holds back, passive, indecisive, or lets nature take its course. Consider parenting as a full time commitment to seeing that Christ is formed in our offspring.  The apostle Paul shows us how to do this in I Thessalonians 2:7 – 12. He described himself as gentle as a mother caring for young children and as encouraging as a father. He had a goal that his “children” would learn to live “worthy of God.” I never thought to have a goal for my children when I was widowed. Have you?

Even if your children are now adults, remember it’s not too late. Everyone needs someone watching out for them, someone who’s on their side, and has tangible and worthy goals for them. We all need to be treated gently and encouraged no matter what our age.

Looking back, I wish I had made an annual event of Father's Day. Instead of ignoring it, I could have done something with my kids. It’s a natural opportunity to get the children to talk about how they’re doing and to learn more about their father and their heritage. Acknowledging the day with a prayer will help. A small gift or a treat like their father’s favorite dessert might be good. Share some memories and funny stories. A visit with other family members or an activity that will take up the whole day, create some fresh, fun memories, and wear everyone out enough for a good night's sleep is also a good option.

Don’t try to be blind to the day or avoid talking about the person. Don’t try to compensate and make up for their absence with money or extravagant, unusual privileges. Don’t be so absorbed in your own pity that you’re unaware of how your children are feeling. Don’t think that a new husband will solve all your problems, only God can do that. Instead, make Father’s Day a time to bless your family with what would have pleased their father. 

Watch out for signs that your children are struggling. They should cry but it probably won’t be as often as you do. Younger ones might cry one minute and run out to play the next; I’ve been told that’s normal. Later on as they age they will need to talk and think about their father. Hospice or children’s services in your area might offer a “Grief Camp” day camp for children. Find out about it and consider using it. They will meet other kids whose parent has died and they’ll do helpful activities on a child’s level. It’s good for widows to know they’re not alone, and it’s good for children to meet other children and realize they’re not the only ones either.

Older children and teens who refuse to talk or cry should meet with a wise, godly person or a professional counselor regularly. I recommend about six weeks at first, and then for a few follow-up visits every year for the next few years. Interview the counsellor before you send your child and make sure you agree with their methods. Family or group counselling might be an excellent option too.

If your child or teen’s behavior changes for the worse, if their school work slips, if they seem depressed, or if they take on an angry, rebellious, or hateful attitude (even a few years after the death) you will also need to find counsel. If they won’t cooperate, then you should seek help for yourself in how to handle them. This can be a frightening journey so make sure you are also seeking God’s help first and He will lead you to the right people.

Cling to these truths: 1. Nothing is impossible with God, not even raising children alone. 2. In Christ we do not have to grieve as the world does; we have true hope, grief doesn’t have to last forever. 3. We will change even if we try not to, so let’s follow God and make it a change for the better.

Let’s make Father’s Day the day we get back to mothering.*
ferree
P.S. I'll be away from the Internet and won't be able to post anymore for the next few weeks. Please be sure to subscribe to this blog so it comes straight to your inbox and you never miss a post, OK? Also, please visit the friends in my blog roll and see what God is doing in their lives on this journey called widowhood.
* also printed in Just Plain Values magazine, June, 2017. Copyright 2017 Ferree Hardy.