Monday, June 18, 2018

C.A.S.T. prayer method

If you've been around church world for a while you might be familiar with the A.C.T.S. method for prayer. I've been in a couple of prayer groups that used it. It's a handy tool for keeping group prayer on point. It incorporates worship, confession and thanksgiving instead of just the usual "bless or help so and so..." God wants us to bring our requests to him, of course, but this ACTS tool reminds us of who God is, and who we really are. It can really enrich a group prayer time. You basically have everyone who wants to pray hold to this outline:
  • A - adoration: open your prayer time by giving everyone opportunity to speak a prayer of adoration and worship to God. Ideally you've got 6 - 10 people in your group and this takes 5 - 10 minutes.
  • C - confession: in a group we don't need to air all of our dirty laundry so this is best done by having the group leader say "We'll now take 2 or 3 minutes of silent prayer to privately confess our personal sins to the Lord." When the time is up the leader proceeds to the next step.
  • T - thanksgiving: Everyone's prayers are full of thankfulness and praise for various gifts and workings of God during the past and current circumstances, and/or appreciation for God's character and truth.
  • S - supplication: praying our requests (the bless or help so and so's) to God and asking for His will to be done. 
While I think it's good for group prayer, I've never been comfortable with it on my own. Psalms 66:18 says, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened." In other words, God chooses to not listen to the prayers of Christians who harbor sin rather than confess it! I realized I needed to put CONFESSION at the top of my prayer time.

I played around with the ACTS acronym and rearranged the letters putting Confession first and ended up with: CATS. LOL, that  wasn't going to work! Just not biblical, not reverent, and not a word that would help me focus on God Almighty! A cat would probably like it though.

But what about this one? C.A.S.T.
Ah... that's good!

  • C - Confession
  • A - Adoration - something I can express so much better with a clean heart!
  • S - Supplication - the real reason I pray anyway - because I need a lot of God's help, intervention and miracles in my life!
  • T - Thanksgiving - what a wonderful way to close my prayer time - by thanking God for what he's already done, plus for what he will do in the needs  and situations I just "cast" before him.
CAST all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7

CAST your cares on the Lord
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.
Psalm 55:22

Let's hurry and go CAST! God cares, he will sustain, and he will never let the righteous fall! 

Monday, June 11, 2018

What Do Other Widows Do On Father's Day?

Here is a reprint from a few years ago, but it's timeless...

For all of you with children, I was wondering if you've any tips and suggestions for dealing with Father's Day this Sunday? Have you developed new traditions? Do you ignore it? Acknowlege it? Attend church/skip church? Your answers might be key for other readers here at Widows Christian Place. To start us off, here are some comments from some women who've gotten past that first year.

JB: Ferree, right or wrong I have let my children decide. The first year was tough because my then 22-yr-old daughter's birthday fell on Father's Day. She was born on Father's Day and it only lined up one other time. She had been looking forward to that next time it happened again. I flew to Wyoming to spend the day with her and we ate brunch out and went hiking. My younger kids, whose ages ranged 10 to 15 chose to stay home and keep things quiet with one of their other older sisters. Last year they also chose to skip church and we just spent a quiet day at home. I didn't make a big deal of it, we all knew what was going on. We did talk about it in the days leading up to it. From what I am gleaning so far the choice this year seems to be to skip church and spend the day here. My kids at home are now 12, 14 and 17. Just like any of us, it is not that they couldn't make it through church, it is just that they don't want to sit and be reminded of what they don't have and how great it is.

TSB: Named days - growing to hate them! Not only do I miss the husband who was such a great dad and Gramps, it is the second anniversary weekend of my own Daddy's death. Last year I made charitable donations in the name of those two men. Not sure how my adult son handles it or if he is establishing a tradition.

AE: My kids are grown and Father's Day falls really close to the time their father died. So we are doubled up. I think my children are shifting focus to the father in their own families with, of course, memories of their great Dad. I will let it be their choice. I am with you TSB, I hate named days. I am more conscious of honoring my own father since my husband is celebrating with his Heavenly Father and reunited with his own father in paradise. What a party!


RO: We had our Father's Day a couple of weeks ago in our country. My son went out fishing with a friend. My little girls and I stayed home and talked about dad. I realized it was so important for them especially the younger one to know that the day was dedicated to dads, so she drew lotsa stuff for him which we stored in her memory box (everything she says about dad or draws for him is stored in there). We finally cooked his favorite meal together and everyone was happy!

BJ: My Dad died a year and a half before my husband died. We go away on Father's Day weekend to one of our favorite get aways. It is now a great vacation weekend. Praise the Lord! I/we work hard to keep heart and focus on The Lord. He takes care of me and my children. Our Father. And we are so grateful. Truly.

MG: Last year, our first Father's Day without him, I decided to take my kids to the beach and not acknowledge the day. I'm sure the older ones were aware of the day. My husband never liked making a big deal about Father's Day or Mother's Day. He would acknowledge the day but not plan anything specific. I think we will attend church and whatever happens, happens.

LVW:  Joe died on Father’s Day 2011. I have gone to church every Father’s Day since then and I will be there again this year. Last week at choir practice, the lyrics to the anthem we are singing next Sunday really hit me. So I thought I’d share them with you.

"Father's Day Medley"
In praise of fathers who put their trust in the Lord,
Who teach their children to love and live His holy Word.
With thankful hearts we lift this song to men who walk in love;
For fathers we give all our praise to the Father up above.
Thank you, dear Lord, for godly men,
Who, in their homes each day,
Lovingly lead their families
Patiently show the way.
Thank you, dear Lord, for Christian homes,
And for the peace we share.
When godly men on bended knee
Lead us to You in prayer.


It sure made me think of how thankful I am for my own dad who the Lord has blessed us with for 90 years. (By the way, he sings tenor still in choir!) And it also made me think that even when our husbands and our own daddies are gone from this world, that we have our Heavenly Father who is with us always through the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that it’s easy by any means. I still cry and my heart aches- to be sure. But I try to focus my thoughts on celebrating all those fathers in my life who God has blessed me with……some here and some above. Immersing myself in thoughts of thankfulness on Father’s Day helps to balance the pain of remembering that first sad Father’s Day when I got the call that Joe was gone.


LD:  Father's Day ...without my Dad or Dave...let's just say I wasn't looking forward to it. Another widow put a different spin on the day-- We have the most wonderful heavenly Father who loves us and never leaves us! So I will be celebrating Happy God The Father Day! To honor my Father I am planning on doing an act of kindness to show God's love in a practical way.

Aren't these helpful? This is a good look at what happens in our Lifeboat groups on Facebook. Send me a "friend request" and a message with the word "Lifeboat" if you'd like to join. 

Which ever way you choose to spend Father's Day this year, please know that I'll be praying for you and that God your eternal Father holds you close.
ferree


Monday, June 4, 2018

Survival Kit

Surviving widowhood for a mom with children at home or career woman (or those who have both!) often boils down to Elisabeth Elliot's four words: Do The Next Thing.

But for my dad and other retirees, there will be days when "do the next thing," or doing anything, is optional. Some of us have too much to do, but others have too little. Either way, when we lose a spouse we lose the structure and schedule of our day. We have no anchor points for our routine. What time is breakfast, lunch or supper? Does it really matter? When is bedtime? Should you mess up the bed every night or doze off in the recliner while watching TV?

I encouraged my dad to develop an intentional daily routine. He now has the time to do the things he's always wanted (although he'd gladly give it up to have Mom back). One way to make sure he gets to do these things is to build habits that benefit him---simple things like keeping a grocery list on the refrigerator for things he needs to pick up, making a "to do" list and having the satisfaction of crossing a task off (eventually) will help him avoid the chaos that so often accompanies loss.

Jotting down a daily and weekly routine like breakfast-walk-take pills-lunch-get mail-go to bank-etc... Or laundry on Monday, Bible study group on Tuesday, VFW on Wednesday...

These things might sound way too obvious and easy but in the fog and grief of widowhood they can be overwhelming and easy to forget. Overlooking some of them--- like "pay the bills," for example--- can cause serious problems to pile up! Keeping a routine is a tool that can help avoid those problems.

I'm sending my dad a little "Survival Kit" with a few things to help with his daily routine.

1). First will be my book "Postcards from the Widows' Path." Even though he's a man I know he'll be open to doing the short worksheet at the end of each chapter. When people do them they see tremendous growth, encouragement and spiritual development--God has not abandoned us! He truly does work things together for our good, and we can trust Him. I want him to have my book at hand for whenever he feels like he's ready to read it. At first he might not want to do the writing part---that's ok. Just reading through the "postcards" from Ruth, Naomi and other characters in the story give a lot of hope. Need one for yourself or a friend? Order here.

2). I'm also sending the first in a series of Journeying through Grief booklets from Stephen Ministries. This is a set of 4 booklets that you send out 1-3 weeks after the death,  and then the others at 3, 6 and 11 months. Each booklet intends to explain the changing emotions and challenges of the first year and I think they do an excellent job. I suggested GriefShare to my dad but we found that the local groups wouldn't be a workable fit for him so these booklets are a good option.

3). Also included will be a 5x7 notebook with a pocket page in the front. These are great for jotting down thoughts from daily Bible reading, prayer requests, and answers to prayer. I use a new one every year.

4). A daily Bible reading guide. You can print the one provided here on this blog too. I developed it especially for people experiencing loss---it's only a chapter or two each day. In the fog of widowhood it's hard to concentrate. Keeping it short is best, yet we need that structure and accomplishment. This Bible guide gets you through the entire New Testament, corresponding Psalms, the Book of Ruth, and Proverbs. I think dad will love it.

5). Last but not least, some Post-It Notes, and (not pictured) a magnetic notepad for his refrigerator for a grocery and "to do" lists. I can tell you from personal experience that post-its stick to kitchen windows, steering wheels and bathroom mirrors! You can leave yourself a reminder about anything   with them from "buy toilet paper" to a profound verse of Scripture. LOL I've done both!



Monday, May 28, 2018

Here's What I Told My Dad When Mom Died

Her funeral was one week ago today ...

I'm still a little stunned; seems like it was yesterday; seems like a lifetime ago too. But it was one week ago: Monday, May 21.

As you know (unfortunately), you get that one word--gone-- and your world tilts and goes into a crazy spin. It's such a shock! So hard to wrap your mind around!

Mom passed away on Wed., May 16. (I hadn't expected her to make it through the month and I'm thankful I could spend May 1-4 with her in the cardiac unit of the hospital; it was a precious time). Once we got the news my husband Tom and I juggled our jobs, phone calls, plans and flights for the family. (We spread from the east coast to the west and our destination was Wisconsin). We flew up from South Carolina that Saturday, had visiting hours on Sunday, the funeral on Monday, Tom flew back (three flights/two layovers/takes all day) on Tuesday and I stayed with my dad until Saturday.

I wanted to do 3 things for him, and I think these would be good helps for anyone who comes alongside family or friends after a loved one dies.

1). Fend off and buffer conflict, " vultures," and nosy people who should mind their own business. Fortunately, my siblings and I agreed that Dad would call the shots and we'd do our best to help him do what he wanted to do. He and mom were married for 63 years but he's managed pretty well on his own while she was in the hospital since April 21. Of course we had our own opinions but our priority was to give him respect and enable his best interests. Above all we did not want to impose any more sudden, irrevocable changes on him like moving him out of his apartment or getting rid of all her photos and things. I cleared out stuff he didn't want and cleaned out some kitchen cabinets so he could begin to arrange it for his own use but it was only with his permission. He lost his wife, not his mind, you know?
"Vultures" are what I call the people (usually relatives) who want to swoop in on the family heirlooms or inheritance and gorge themselves.  Their hearts are as ugly as a vulture's head and I'm sure you know what I mean. So far we haven't had any of those and I'm grateful. Taxes are another "vulture" so estate protection and a good financial advisor are very important--especially when you don't have much!
Some nosy women sidled up to my sister, "So where's your father going to live now? Will he stay in that big apartment all by himself?" I'm glad they didn't happen to ask me as my sister was much kinder in her reply.

2). Talk about the 2 biggest challenges for widows and widowers: Loneliness and finances. A few days after the funeral his financial advisor had set up an appointment for him to clue him in to how he'd manage without mom's social security and pension checks. He also advised him to revise his will, meet with some people about all the medical bills, and create a new budget. Dad will also need to come up with some options for future housing given his age and future health needs. 
As far as the loneliness, that's something we'll all observe and monitor. He's active at church, VFW and in his residence so I hope the friendships he's built over the years will remain solid and mutual but time will tell. Re-marriage is not a guaranteed solution to loneliness and we talked about some of the widows and divorcees in the neighborhood who were already eyeing him!

3). Consider safety. My dad hates the telephone. He wears hearing aids and its frustrating to use the telephone so he's been avoiding it. We all told him he just has to suck it up and do it. But we gave him a handle on it--my brother helped him learn how to use the speaker phone feature on his house phone. And then I worked out a system with him to call my answering machine every morning and check in with me. If I don't hear from him I have the # of a neighbor of his who I can call to check on him. We don't want him to end up like those "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" commercials. This isn't a perfect solution but it's better than it was.
We also talked about keeping doors locked and got extra keys for us kids to have on hand.
Another issue with the phone was that he got a few phone calls for mom from telemarketers---or were they really telemarketers???? In any case he now knows to say, "She's not able to come to the phone right now may I take a message? or "Put us on your DO NOT CALL LIST." Never tell a stranger that your spouse just died. 

I hope you find these 3 things good reminders of steps that you've already addressed. Of course there are a lot of other things too and they vary from person to person, but at least these are starting points. I'd love to hear your advice and experiences so please leave a comment. If you receive this on your cell phone click on the title to get to the actual blog post to make a comment. Thanks! I know other readers will also appreciate hearing your views. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

God Gives Widows Enough

Welcome to WCP. I am both glad you're here, but very sorry if you've been widowed. Nevertheless, this is a place you'll find some benefit. Here's an inspiring widow's story from the Bible.

I Kings 17:7-16 "The Widow of Zarephath"

During a time of drought and famine, the prophet Elijah went to the house of a widow and said, “Feed me before you use the last of your food for yourself and your son.”

Now I don't know if Elijah said the word "me" all bold and italicized, but being a mom, I'm sure that's how the widow heard it. And we have to note that her town, Zarephath, was a coastal village north of Israel, in Phoenicia. This widow wasn't an Israelite; she lived in the heart of a pagan, idol- worshipping country. She might not have known Elijah from Adam, so her response to him is pretty astounding.

Instead of saying, "What? Are you crazy? I can't let us starve to death! Hit the road!" she used the last of her ingredients to bake him a little cake of bread.

After that though, oddly enough, she found enough ingredients to make some more for her son and herself. They'd live another day. Day after day she’d bake more bread to feed Elijah, herself and her son. She would use the last of her reserves and resources every day, but with each new day there was always more. Always enough.

Do you use up the last of your reserves every day? When you go to bed each night are you running on empty? So was this widow. But each new day brought her what she needed to survive. Her little bit of trust in God was renewed each day. God always provided just enough.

I think the widow of Zarephath would agree with Lamentations 3:22, 23.

"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!"

Day after day God provides for us day by day.

It's not always more than we need, but we can be thankful it's never less than we need.
ferree

Monday, May 7, 2018

Groups on Facebook


We pick up survivors and help
each other on the ocean of grief.
Have you heard about the free, confidential widows' support groups I have on Facebook? Don't feel bad if you haven't, I seldom promote them. Plus, they're "secret" Facebook groups and do not come up on any searches. People find out about them only through the few times I mention them on this blog or through friends.

They started in 2011 and hundreds of widows have used them. That's not a large number for Facebook groups but the purpose is to provide a small group of Christian women who can ask honest questions, and share prayers, praises and burdens. Friendships grow, and faith does too. It doesn't last forever though.

One of the most valuable benefits is when members realize they don't really need it anymore! Whenever they're ready they opt out. It's totally self-monitored. It's peer support, not professional, and your participation is under your control. Some members read along quietly and rarely say a word. Others are very active and enjoy the growing friendships and support.

Lifeboat and Lifeboat2 are the entry groups. They welcome women who've been widowed for any length of time. Throughout the week I receive requests to join and I add new members on Tuesdays or Fridays.

My other group is called "Going Ashore." It's for widows who have passed that one-year point of widowhood.  They want to address the issues and challenges of the second year and beyond.

So how does one join? First, if you haven't already, get a Facebook account at Facebook.com
Then it's easy, just ...
  1. Send me, Ferree Hardy, a Facebook "friend request."
  2. Then - VERY IMPORTANT- message me on Facebook with 1). your choice of Lifeboat or Going Ashore and 2). the date you were widowed. 
I will confirm your message and friend request within a few days and add you to a Lifeboat group on a Tuesday or a Friday. It's that easy! Just be sure to send me BOTH. I'm sorry but I don't have time to follow up and remind you if you don't.

Re: LIFEBOAT---if you're still in the first year of widowhood Lifeboat is the only option for you even if you think you are beyond it. I've had members request Going Ashore before they've passed their one-year anniversary of widowhood but I always kindly deny them. Afterwards they see the wisdom of having their Lifeboat sisters support them through that momentous day. Also, Lifeboat2 is not more advanced, it's just a designation for another Lifeboat group. Someday maybe we'll have Lifeboat3!

Re: GOING ASHORE---if you're past your first year of widowhood you may go directly to Going Ashore. However, since I don't know you personally I recommend joining both Lifeboat and Going Ashore so you can decide which is the best fit for you.

Please note: Lifeboat is for widows only. I do not add men or organizations. If I happen to find either on board for some reason, they are immediately removed, no questions asked.