Thursday, July 2, 2020

Note to A Friend

I consider all of you friends---I don't think I could write to strangers. But sometimes dear friendships develop through blogging, and I'm on the receiving end.


A few days ago one of these dear friends checked in on me, gently probing to see if I was doing OK since I haven't been blogging much lately.


It was a good thing she did!! No, I wasn't in trouble, I'm doing really well, but totally side-tracked. So I am happy to catch back up with you all.


In fact, I have a give-away for you! I'm giving this away to readers of a magazine column I write, so I should give it to you too, right?


Just send me a self-addressed/stamped/envelope: Ferree Hardy, 122 Breckenridge Dr., North Augusta, SC 29841 and I will send you a series of four "C.A.S.T.ing Our Cares Upon God Prayers. The pages are copies of blog posts--here's an example: Send those envelopes in--it's really nice to have these on pages instead of scrolling through the blog. They're not fancy, just good.


Yes, you did read that I write a magazine column too. I've been doing it for four years. View a sample here. Right now it's mailed out to the Amish community, I'm not Amish but they seem to tolerate me pretty well. ☺ It's a full color, beautifully done magazine, over 80,000 readers. You can even order straw hats and Amish buggies through their advertisements! By the end of the year it might be available for subscription. It's fascinating so I think it will be welcomed with outspread arms by all.

Next week I'm getting filmed for the very first time! (I've never even been on a home video, I'm soooo non-techie!) I'll be doing a ten-minute "book talk" as part of a national video conference for widows by my amazing friend Marlene Craft of Widows Link.

Last week I "met" some Facebook widow friends in a Facebook Messenger "Room." It's similar to Zoom which so many have used during our shutdowns. Was that a treat! Really, try it sometime! It'd be really cool to do a Room meeting once a week or so in the future! Interested?

And this week I was privileged to meet with some new widows at our new church. We sat around a big table with plenty of social distancing. I missed not being closer. Next week we'll have to resort to Zoom, but that's better than nothing, and God is on top of this technology and the virus.

Nothing is too difficult for Him! Including a photo shoot for me! At our new church I met a photographer's wife --and he's a photographer with a ministry of blessing people with his giftedness. All these years and I've never had a picture shoot. Good things come to those who wait. 

Additionally, to my friend Bobbie, it feels like we are still at square one with our move and apartment life, but God is on the move and I'm just trying to keep up.

Thank you all for you continued prayers! Please pray for our country and each other!



Monday, June 22, 2020

How Was Your Father's Day?

I'm sorry I didn't post anything in preparation for Father's Day this year.  Now that it's the next day I look back and see that I was trying to avoid it! Hindsight is always 20/20, right?

I should have known and prepared myself, but instead I got one of those full-blown grief storms! If you've known me very long you know that I talk about grief storms (aka a grief ambush or grief attack) as those unexpected wallops of despair and crying brought on by some sort of "trigger" like a strong memory, a song, spotting a car that looks just like your husband's...all sorts of things. Especially holidays.

I just didn't think it'd bother me this year. It's been 20 years since my first husband, Bruce, died and the holiday has come and gone many times since with little more than a sigh and sending a hug to my kids.

But I think this year was different for an important reason that you should be aware of too; it could happen to YOU. Knowing it's out there is half the battle: COMPOUNDED GRIEF.

If you Google it, the term can be summed up as the grief that occurs when someone experiences a number of losses in either a short time-frame, or entire life or chapter of life. From what I've observed it can also be set off by various triggers.

DO NOT confuse it with COMPLICATED GRIEF, although it may contribute to that condition.  Complicated grief is very real too, but it can be debilitating. Please seek professional help with a grief counselor if you suspect you have it. Symptoms are listed on many websites.

My Compounded Grief Attack yesterday was triggered by Father's Day. After several crying spells that I didn't understand I finally realized that
*  this was my first year without my dad. I grieved over his death last October, but hadn't talked or thought about it much since. And when I did it was mostly that I was actually thankful he's not here with the mess our country is in--he'd be so upset!
*  add to that a very fresh, very big disappointment on Friday
*  add to that the anniversary of the start of a very difficult year (will it ever end?)
*  add to that moving to a new city where we don't know anyone and can't even go to church yet!

I was an easy target for the enemy and accuser of my soul! Before I knew it a big case of bone-deep loneliness set in, plus "the devil's baby-sitter: self-pity." Oh! how my heart hurt!

Late last night (because I couldn't sleep either), I finally turned to God's Word.

The Old Testament passage in the Bible reading plan I'm following this year had story I could relate to: King Asa. So weird, but I was acting just like him! II Chronicles 16.

---God delivered an entire army into his hands and saved the nation of Judah but Asa down-played and ignored the Lord. God has certainly delivered ME from entire armies of PROBLEMS and GRIEF in the past but here I was down-playing and ignoring that truth.

---I was just like Asa in a tiny detail too---that Asa's feet were painful (mine are too), but instead of seeking God about the pain Asa went to the wisdom of the day. There's nothing wrong with going to a doctor for my foot pain, but I realized that like Asa, I ignored turning to the Lord---I neglected to pray! My mode is to think my sore feet are just something I have to live with. Do you do that too? The thing is...God cared about poor old Asa's aching feet! Why else would a detail like that be in the Bible? He cares about my feet too (and my hurting heart)---and yours. He will deliver us! 

I love this paraphrase of Romans 8:31-32 "If God gave his only Son for you, will he not also give you everything else that you need in this life?"

Well, confession is good for the soul. I got out my Confession Adoration Supplication and Thanksgiving prayers, and this week I'm starting back into using the diary I've told you about. These two tools --- I keep going back to them --- they truly help me during these crazy days of national turmoil and personal grief. Email me at WCplace@gmail.com if you need the diary. Scroll down to earlier posts or use the search box on WidowsChristianPlace.com to use the CAST YOUR CARES on the Lord prayers.

These are difficult days, even more so for widows in bereavement and those who face the challenges of grief triggers and compound grief. Please remember though, Complicated Grief is something to especially seek professional help for.

Have a good week in the Lord my friends. If you've mentioned prayer requests to me I'm still praying. And maybe you should tell about your Father's Day or grief trigger experiences too. Others could benefit from hearing how He's helped your hurting heart (or aching feet)! Please feel free to leave a comment. ❤

Monday, June 1, 2020

Wise & Beautiful Scriptures About Our Day of Death

My times are in your hands...Psalm 31:15

...all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16
Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath...Psalm 39:4,5
A person’s days are determined;
    you have decreed the number of his months
    and have set limits he cannot exceed. Job 14:5


Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Luke 11:25 

Mortals, born of woman,
    are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away;
    like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. 
Job 14:1-2

The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him...Psalm 103:15-17


You turn people back to dust,
    saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
A thousand years in your sight
    are like a day that has just gone by,
    or like a watch in the night.
Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
    they are like the new grass of the morning:
In the morning it springs up new,
    but by evening it is dry and withered. 

Psalm 90:3-6

Our days may come to seventy years,
    or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
    for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 
Psalm 90:10

Teach us to number our days,
    that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

Psalm 90:12


Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21
In His love, God will carry you through
these times of suffering.  -fh

Monday, May 25, 2020

This Year It's Personal

(Please click on the title "This Year It's Personal" if the video does not appear here).



On Sept. 27 we said "good-bye for now" to my dad. On behalf of my brothers and sister, I was presented with the flag for his service with the US Navy on board the New Jersey battleship during the Korean War. Thanks for a life well-lived, Dad, and the protection and care for us you always provided through God's grace.

Day is done, Gone the sun,

From the hills, From the lake, From the skies.

All is well,  Safely rest,

God is nigh.

Pause in Remembrance - In an effort to ensure Memorial Day is the sacred and noble holiday it is intended to be, pause for 1 minute in an act of national unity wherever you are at 3 PM local time on Memorial Day. Accompany that time of cessation with prayer for our country and our veterans. If you are fortunate enough to have a trumpet or bugle player in your neighborhood, listen for "Taps." 

Monday, May 18, 2020

True Help During A Time of Dread


Dear Friend,
The diary pages I mentioned a couple weeks ago have really helped my outlook during this time of dread. Do you have yours yet? Do you need more? Email me at WCplace@gmail.com .
The overview for it is posted below. You can view the diary pages here.
Try keeping the diary for 3 weeks straight. I think you’ll see good results the first week but 3 weeks will make it more of an automatic lifestyle. I’d love to hear how this helps.
Remember that God is in control and loves you so much that Jesus Christ lived, died and arose from the dead for our salvation and freedom from sin (including fear and anxiety). Keep trusting in Him.   ferree

 

Diary Overview

Each weekday is composed of six exercises that are commonly cited as effective for guarding against stress, depression, anxiety and unhealthy grief. Sunday and Saturday are different; Sunday’s entry is for looking ahead and Saturday’s is for reflection at the end of your week. If, like so many people, your life doesn’t fit the Monday-Friday schedule just rename the days accordingly.

What’s most important is to personalize this and do what works for you. You don’t have to do each of the six things each and every day, it’s better to aim for consistency than to add more stress. Start with one or two things: perhaps reading a Bible verse and getting some exercise. Pick any combination. Nail them down and then add more. 

SUPPLIES:

  • paper for making copies
  • hole punch (optional)
  • 3 ring binder (optional)
  • pencil or pen and highlighter

One week of entries will fit on two 8.5”x11” pages.  Copy single sided or use both sides. Print pages for as many weeks or months as you’d like. Hole punch them to fit into a 3-ring binder if you want.

Remember this is a task-oriented diary, not the “Dear Diary” kind. Compose short phrases. You don’t have to write complete sentences. No one is going to grade it. You don’t even have to explain yourself. Write key words that will jog your memory when you look back at your week. Journaling—letting your thoughts and feelings flow out through your fingertips—is great, too, especially if you are lonely. But this is not a journal so quick notes and key words are enough.

SUNDAY

Highlights from church

What impressed your heart most at church today? Jot down two or three words that express most what you want to remember or attach your sermon notes.

Problems, choices, etc., challenging me this week

What problems and junk will you face in the week ahead? You might write, “I hate my job!” or “I need a job!” or the initials of a person you need to confront—all the sorts of messes we dread.  This helps define the burdens you are bearing. Although God knows them, once YOU are able to name them, then you are able to pray about them effectively. Cast your burdens on Him.
MONDAY – FRIDAY Each day has 2 sections. Use the first at the beginning of the day *** the second at the end.

Something positive from the past 24 hours. This can be as ordinary as a dandelion (if you like dandelions), or as unusual as someone leaving you a $1000 tip. Just.One.Thing. On some days that’s hard to do if your brain is stuck in negativity. This exercise is very important. It will help you become more aware of the good stuff around you. There will be less reason to be critical, defensive and perfectionistic. You’ll start feeling a tad bit happier, others will feel it too and it will grow.

People, things or events I’m grateful for. List at least three. Every day.  A different three every day. There are way more than three things to be thankful for every day so don’t you dare use the same ones over and over! And if you want to list 20 or 50 things, go for it!

One Bible verse or inspirational thought to carry with me today.  Do your daily Bible reading or devotions and pick one verse or line to transpose here. You might also want to put it on a 3x5 card or Post-It note so you’ll see it throughout the day too. The main purpose is to get into the habit of latching on to life giving words.

***

A kind thing I did: Write this down at the end of your day. If you didn’t accomplish any act of kindness then leave it blank and remember to do something tomorrow. You’re not racking up goody points or earning your angel wings, God doesn’t keep score like that. This is even better if no one sees you do it. It can be random or planned. Smile and say thank you to the cashier, pick up litter, make your bed, surprise your family by playing a game with the kids, do the dishes without grumbling or leave that $1000 tip for the waitress. The possibilities are endless, switch things up every time.

Music that meant a lot to me: Write down the song titles or phrases that pulled you in, made you smile, dance or simply relax. Some days you might have more than one, somedays none. That’s OK, this exercise is to help you develop awareness of this powerful tool for your emotions. But…if you find a Christian song or hymn full of God’s truth playing in your head when you least expected it? Tune in and listen. That’s the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, loving on you.

Exercise  Bible reading  Specific prayer time  Check these off at the end of the day. No excuses, just a check mark. You choose your own routine. This is just a tool for accountability and consistency. They can all be enjoyable and rewarding and research shows that exercise is an effective aid for depression! 

SATURDAY

Review the notes you’ve made this week and consider this question: What life giving word or action from God spoke to you this week?  Highlight or mark the things which were most significant to you. 

This could be the most impactful day of all—and you might not write a single word. Reviewing your week will help you begin to notice that God truly is working in your life for your good and his glory. You’ll see changes. Others will see you change. God will get the credit and the glory, and you will discover he is blessing you. Not because you deserve it but because he is God and God is love. That’s what he did for us on Calvary—even though we were sinners, Christ died for us—that’s the greatest gift of all. His love didn’t stop there though, He conquered death! He gives us life both now and forever! He continues to reach out to us with his love, redeeming our mean little days so that we can choose a life that doesn’t crumble under stress, despair and pandemics. We will finally know who we are, why we are here, and where we are going.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Wings for Widows

Psalm 57 seems like it was written for today and the compounding disaster of this pandemic. In the last part of verse one the writer tells God this: 


I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings

    until the disaster has passed.


Don't we all need to scoot under the wings of the Lord?

Wings are a special picture of God's care for widows. 

Remember Ruth? Here's what Boaz told her when they first met:


Ruth 2:12-  May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.

Another psalm describes the same idea:

Psalm 91:4- He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  

Here's a "coincidence" that surprised me after my book was printed. I only met with the graphic artist who designed it once or twice to bounce around some ideas for the book cover. Her final product included a feather pen. I thought, "Hmmm...That's not historically accurate for Bible times, but then again, neither are postcards." So I just OK'd it because it complemented the classical art. We also decided to put a feather motif to mark sections and the end of each chapter.


It wasn't until almost a year that I understood! I connected the dots! 

The feather on the cover of my book was a great foreshadowing of Boaz's words to Ruth, "under whose wings you have come to take refuge..." If your Bible has cross-references then Ruth 1:12 will reference you to Psalm 91:4. 

If people ask me to autograph their book I'll often put Psalm 91:4 and hope they remember it whenever they come to a feather in their reading.

I hope this little coincidence encourages you to know that God sets up stuff to work out in some really cool ways--better than we could plan.  This pandemic was no surprise to God. He'll take care of you too, just like he cared for Ruth and Naomi. ❤  ferree

PS. Have you ordered your copy of my book yet? If not, right now I only have 50 left and with all the uncertainties ahead I don't really know if I'll be able to get more. But you can easily order today right here.