Monday, May 22, 2017

Spring Planting

Plowed fields and freshly planted gardens remind me that in the midst of sorrow life goes on. All those seeds buried underground picture how overwhelmed, buried, and in the dark I felt as a widow. Now what would I do? How was I to carry on? What was next? 

Grief is different for each individual, and widowhood is a particular challenge. There's no formula or prescription cure-all, but as I’ve talked and listened to widows over the years I know there comes a point in time when they need to see some steps to take to grow out of that darkness. It’s like a
planting season. Here are five “seeds,” so to speak, that I encourage them to plant. These “seeds” will bring a harvest of better days ahead and glean hope and wisdom in the here and now.

Read one or two good resources about grief to understand the process and avoid pitfalls. Beware of misinformation! There’s a lot of it, so don’t believe everything. Just learn enough to know that this sad time does not have to last forever. My favorite book on the basics of grief is still the one I was given a few days after my husband died—Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace by James R. White. It’s short and concise, compassionate and biblical.
Talk or write
Talk about your husband, your life together, his death, and your feelings. If you have children at home it’s good to get them to talk too. Among adults, most will kindly wait for you to speak first. Others will not ever be comfortable talking about death! But speaking up will help you find friends who understand and they’re the ones you need. If you can’t find someone to talk to, write down what you'd like to say in a notebook or diary. This is helpful because when you hear yourself tell what happened, even though it’s hard to talk or write about, you begin to get over the shock.
Find role models.  
You can get to know other widows in person or through reading about them. Don’t limit yourself to just one or two. Get to know many widows. Positive widows light a spark in you to keep pressing on, even if it’s a hard day. They help you learn that you don't have to like this experience, but you can still be thankful. You can be honest about your heartaches, but you can still hope. Good role models help you see examples of good choices. 
Start to rebuild your life. 
Most people do not understand the huge adjustments a widow has forced upon her and the rebuilding that must take place. Many widows have not only lost their husband, they've lost their identity and structure to their day. Little things have fractured, like no longer having another person to share in supper or chores. Adding to that are the far more complicated threats of losing finances, home, health, and family relationships. But slowly and surely the widow can arise from this rubble one brick at a time. The “to do” list will always be longer than the “did and done,” but accomplishing one thing, one step at a time, is excellent progress. Simply start wherever you’re at and do the next thing in front of you, breaking it down to smaller duties.

Relax and rest in the Lord. 
I know this is easier said than done. I too have felt the heavy load, the burden of a broken heart, the fatigue, sleeplessness, constant adrenal drain, and utter exhaustion. I desperately wanted my garden to be done! I wanted my questions to cease! Now what would I do? How could I go on? What was next? But the secret I learned was this: to relax; to let grief and widowhood run their course, but not rule my life. Desperation didn’t accomplish anything. I had seeds to plant, but I also had to rest—to wait for and look to God for the growth.

Start planting these seeds today, dear widow, even just one or two. Water them with your tears, and just like the fields and gardens in the earth around us, in the proper time the sun will shine, life will sprout and God will grant a good harvest. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126:5  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Red Flags In Dating (part 2) -- What If They're Preferences Instead?

Please be sure to read yesterday's post which started this conversation. We continue today. Each different colored font is a different person. Join in with your comments either day. It's always worthwhile to hear from more!

Reading and thinking through things here, I do think that we need to be careful about what is a red flag and what is something that you don't prefer. Some one mentioned being late all the time. My dearly departed was always running late, always. It was simply because he just didn't have that internal clock, he didn't mark the passage of time well. 29 years together and he was always late. But oh what a wonderful, kind, humble loving man he was. I hate to think what I would have missed if I dropped him because he was late for every single date.

When you're not sure, time is an amazing clarifier; as are background checks, health history, and financials!

Not all of the above are automatic deal-breakers. God's grace is deep. Time does reveal. Of course this guy did not show all of these character traits at was a gradual process, like a frog in a pot of boiling water. The phrase it took to wake me was this: "I don't know whoever told you red is your color. It's not." My response: "Ummmm...everybody's told me that for my entire life? So when you finally hear something you know to be a lie, you begin to look at things differently. And yes, I'm in counseling to make sure this never happens again!

Here's my two cents worth. One or two of these things alone do not signal run, they are only red flags if there are many of them! Let's face it, we all have red flags in our lives! So, particularly in a long distance relationship where you have never met, these are some "scammer" red flags: *His phone does not have a name on the caller ID, rather says "unknown" or something similar (not to be confused with blocked, which I ALWAYS did the first conversation or two). *Googling his number shows a city/area different from his stated residence. 
*Often questions of a personal nature are slow to be answered or he suddenly has to run and will answer them later, but never does. When pushed he asks you to be patient because he's so busy or flies off the handle and accuses you of not trusting him. 
*He pushes that you should trust him right out the gate. 
*He starts talking about his finances. Even if he doesn't mention yours at first. 
*He says he wants to meet, but something always comes up and he can't. 
*He has no one in the whole world. Parents deceased, no siblings, no children, no relatives, no one. 
*The name of the church he said he attends doesn't exist. 
*He will not give you information on anyone who can be a reference for him or he is all alone and doesn't know anyone. 
*Never provides an address where he lives and a google search of his city doesn't come up with anything. 
*He is a widower or divorced, but a public records search for his ex or deceased wife reveals nothing, no marriage, divorce, or death records. 
*He is self-employed but a public records search for his licensing through his city, county, or state comes up empty. 
*He is unavailable on week-ends for one reason or another, always! 
Just a few that I ran across. And one dude met almost every single one of these criteria. When I asked about them, he disappeared. LOL (Readers, I love how she used public records to try to verify his information. You don't need to be a detective to do this, try it! ~ferree)

Now for red flags when you have met. 
*He's resistant to you knowing where he goes to church or tells you he does not want you to go there. 
*He assures you that he would never treat you, your children, or grandchildren "like that!" but he treats others that way 
*He pushes you to more than you are comfortable with physically or emotionally. 
*He expects far more than he is willing to give. 
*He is never wrong. (This one is true with scammers too. A disagreement is always your fault, you are always unreasonable.) 
*He begins asking you to pay for dates or asks for loans or your specific financial information (Also scammers! RUN!!!!!) Remember, some scammers operate face-to-face. 
*He has multiple divorces. 
*He has only had short-term relationships. 
*You do all the pursuing. 
*He is inordinately interested in or affectionate with your children or grandchildren. 
*You are always "over-reacting" or taking something the wrong way. 
*Others in his life warn you that he can be difficult or that you should be careful. 
I guess some of these could be simply a matter of taste, but basically, if being around him makes you feel "less" during dating, remember, he's on his best behavior now!

There's no such thing as a perfect man. We all have faults. What you have to really look out for as a red flag once you are actually seeing someone is this: are you a better you around him? If not, then maybe that's a red flag.

The quote "know that God will not call you into a dysfunctional relationship while he heals someone---" I can't think of any scriptural support for it, but it makes great sense. I wonder if this is where women can get into trouble by giving too much grace and thinking God is calling them to help some man. Sure, we all have our baggage and imperfections, but if you have an overnight bag while he needs a tractor-trailer, it's time to move on.

(Reply) "...that's exactly why i stayed so long. i knew he was a wounded bear. i thought i could love him while God healed him. But then i realized he was hurting me (verbally, emotionally) and i had to get out. i do not want my daughter to grow up thinking that's how women should be treated.

You know, I think that's a good way to help determine whether these are concerns are imperfections we can live with or serious red flags: is this the person we want our children to hang out with, be influenced by, for the rest of our lives as a family? Again, it doesn't have to be all perfect, because no one is, but there should be a gut feeling that the kids are going to be blessed by this (or have potential to, as they warm up to the situation).

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Widow's Group Talks About Red Flags They Should Have Seen

A few weeks ago I asked a group of widows who've started dating to tell about "red flags" of a bad date or relationship. Wow!-- did they ever tell!!! Their identities will remain anonymous but they all want YOU to take these warning signs seriously so you can avoid what they experienced. Many spoke of how they ignored the warning signs (or thought they didn't apply to widows), but another factor was that no one had ever warned them. They wished someone would have! So here, my friends, are some the warning signs. I think this is going to take a few days... 

 One at the top of the list should say "just because you meet him in church doesn't mean he's a Christian. Or a good person. Or even mentally stable."

1.They never ask you questions about yourself, but are happy to tell you all about themselves. 
2. They interrupt you frequently. 
3.They tell you about their divorce/last relationship, and nothing was their fault---absolutely nothing! 
4. They say, "You should _______like sushi, or not think that, or do this, or do that, etc..." (Maybe later in the relationship, after they know you, know the facts, but NOT on a first date). 
5. They are habitually late, and are known for being habitually late by all friends and family. It shows selfishness and lack of thought for others. 
6. While on the date they are less than kind to the waitstaff.

Red flags would be--willing to do anything for you, constant showering of gifts and compliments. Tells how he's done every trade there is, owned his own business and how he was always helping people out but then complains he's been used and cheated by everyone he's ever helped. He has to always be the center of the conversation. Talks down about his father with crude remarks, talks about previous women he's dated and what he expects and why they didn't work out. During the relationship he wants constant PDA (public display of affection). Doesn't allow you to talk about your deceased when it's appropriate but he can talk about his anytime. Says holidays are not important. Always has a sarcastic remark about any given profession, including people in your family. Tells you to shut up as he doesn't need your opinion. Claims church isn't necessary nor is God-- he claims he can get to heaven by his good works and deeds. He's always asking you if he looks good when he's dressed up, constantly bragging about his abs and exercise program and suggests you need exercise!

If he has animals be sure to see how important they are--if they are more important than you. Ask about his kids, because if he talks ill of them and says they're worthless even though they have successful careers it tells me he's jealous of their accomplished successes. What's his take on grandkids? Does he have any? Does he enjoy being around them? 

Please tell your readers if they have one red flag or their gut is saying to run.... THEN RUN AND DON'T LOOK BACK!!!! Listen to your closest friends, ask for their honest opinions. You may not like it, but they're seeing red flags outside the blinders you're wearing. I hope this helps.

Some of the main things that I learned from my failed relationship are:
1. If he tries to take you away from church, run.
2. If he refuses to meet your friends or family, run.
3. If he belittles you, publicly or privately, run.
4. If he tries to control you, manipulate you, or convince you that he is the only one that you need, run.
5. If he is verbally or physically abusive, run, run, RUN. Don't put up with it like I did. I was so desperate to be loved that I allowed him to do all of the above. That's not love.

It's funny/odd, because being married for almost 28 years I think I assumed that the first man that I dated would be "The one." He was the one all right… The one to run away from. LOL. Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest ones learned.

To remember all the red flags, I re-read the last few months of my journal. There are so many, you will think I lost my mind for having dated him for four months. The truth is, I know God can and does change people. I know our past does not always look pretty. And I know that by the time one gets to my age, baggage is there and can be ugly. HOWEVER, please trust your instincts (I didn't), know that God will not call you into a dysfunctional relationship while he heals someone (God doesn't need your help and you'll only be a distraction/excuse/scapegoat), and believe that you are who God says you are (redeemed, forgiven, priceless, of great value, loved...).

Red flags:
*You have trouble trusting him (but no concrete reason)
*You are afraid of him (again, even with no specific reason)
*If he cheated on his ex-wife while married
*Doesn't take responsibility for his actions or show any sign of remorse/repentance
*Has an arrest record, including a felony
*Becomes defensive/angry when asked about above (Including stating, "Where's the proof?")
*Declared bankruptcy
*Ex-wife tried to sever parental rights (What does/did she know that I'm not seeing?)
*Turns his phone away so you can't see what he's texting
*No respect for his mother and/or all women
*Rude and insulting
*Would have you think it's all your problem
*You feel pushed away emotionally, physically, mentally
*You feel like you are losing "you"
*You argue a lot about anything/everything
*He has difficulty with boundaries with others (his kids....)
*Thinks he can dictate your behavior now or later ("When we get married, you will be up every day by 7 am.")
*If he tells you to "stop trying to figure him out."
*If he says to not trust your friends because "friends give bad advice"
*If he's cheap (not frugal. Frugal I can understand. I mean CHEAP.)
*If he's rigid (diet, schedule...); no room for spontaneity
*If he tells you not to talk about him with anyone if he's not there "to defend himself"

And finally for today...
Turn to someone who you trust and who you know loves you; tell them your concerns and LISTEN to them. If they say get out, do it!

Please watch for tomorrow's post where the conversation asks if some of these "flags" aren't "preferences" instead...  

Monday, May 8, 2017

The ABC's of Hope

The ABC's of Hope were sent to me by my Facebook friend, Marcia T. F. She's now in her second year of widowhood and ever since she compiled all these verses she's printed them out and keeps them at her bedside. That way, at night when she can't sleep she can go over them. Isn't that an excellent idea? I think I'll do that too. Just copy, paste it into a Word document if necessary and print.
These are sure to be a help, comfort and blessing because they're God's words and He loves us more than we can imagine. ferree


We walk by faith not by sight -2 Cor 5:7

A: Anxious: Do not be anxious about anything , but in everything by prayer, supplication, and with thanksgiving make your requests know to God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6

B: Believe
: I believe, help me in my unbelief. Mark 9:24

C: Contentment: for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4;11-13

D: Dismayed
: So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

E: Eyes:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121

F: Future:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer 29:11

G: GraceMy g race is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Cor 12:9

H: Hope:
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

I: Instruct:
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32 :8

J: Jesus: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

K: Keep: You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

L: Lamp Your word is a lamp for my feet, and a light on my path. Psalm 119:105

M: Mercies
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23

N: Needs:
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

O: Outweighs:
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor 4:17-18

P: Paths: Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

Q: Quiet:
The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save, He takes great delight in you and will quiet you with his love and rejoice over you with singing. Zeph 3:17

R: Rock Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Ps 62:2

S: Sustain: Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

T: Thoughts: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

U: Understanding
: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov 3:5-6

V: Vine
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

W: Wait: but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

X: Anxious: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23

Y: Yoke: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Z: Zion
: See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. Isaiah 28:16

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 2017 Bible Reading Plan for Widows

May the treasured truths from Romans and the spiritual comfort of the Psalms I've selected for Bible reading this month be a balm for our souls...
Copy and print this page to keep in your Bible. Share with your widows group or others too.

May 2017

Psalm 119:49-64
Romans 1
Psalm 50
Romans 2
Psalm 32
Romans 3
Psalm 140
Romans 4
Psalm 103
Romans 5
Romans 6
Romans 7
Romans 8
Psalm 44
Romans 9
Romans 10
Romans 11
Psalm 92
Psalm 93
Psalm 94
Psalm 4
Romans 12
Psalm 133
Romans 13
Romans 14
Romans 15
Psalm 117
Romans 16
Psalm 104
Psalm 147
Psalm 73

Psalm 74
Psalm 75
Psalm 76
Psalm 77