Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Widow's Story: Pregnant!

Dear Friends,

A daily Bible reading habit offers food for thought, knowledge of God and his ways, and every once in a while a shocking surprise!

On our private Facebook widows group Lifeboat, we've had several widows who gave birth after their husbands died, and a few who's husband's died when their children were very young babies. My heart goes out to these women. As I try to pray for them intelligently, I wonder about their daily routines and how they feel. When I put myself in their shoes, I can pray for specific things for them. And sometimes I struggle with the hard questions life's fairness and suffering in general.

One particular day I was thinking about these women while doing my Bible reading in 1 Chronicles. I won't come right out and say it's boring, but I will say the only time one would read 1 Chronicles is if they've promised to read through the entire Bible, or if they want fall asleep at night!

In order to stay on task I had to literally follow the lines with my finger. And then God socked it to me! As I was thinking about these widows who were pregnant when their husband's died this verse came up:

1 Chronicles 2:24 (NIV)
After Hezron died in Caleb Ephrathah, Abijah the wife of Hezron bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa.

Oh my goodness! There was a pregnant widow in Bible times!
It was as if God told me, "I know. I've been through this with other widows, too. I put this verse here for you, and I leaned your thoughts towards this verse today. Nothing takes me by surprise. They're all in my hands, they'll be OK."

By the way, Ashhur, the baby born to the widow, grew up to be the founding father of the village of Tekoa in Israel. This town still exists! This baby, raised by a widow, made a name for himself and left a strong legacy that has survived for thousands of years!

This reminds me of another verse:
Romans 8:18 (NIV)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

God has a good purpose and hope for widows today, too; for Joannah, Crystal, Christine, Wendy, Carol and many more . . .


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Widow's Story: More Than She Ever Dreamed...

Here's a letter from a reader that I've been granted permission to share with you. Are you ready to read about her long-awaited love story? I think you'll enjoy it.  ferree

Hi Ferree,
Been awhile since I’ve written you, but felt that I would share and hopefully convey to some of the widows that there is life after our beloved ones pass.

I’m sure you’ve seen that I’m engaged and I couldn’t be happier. But it took a while to get to this point…

I first met my now beloved just three months after Wayne passed away in 2012. We went to dinner a couple of times, but I knew I wasn’t ready and that I was still mourning my Wayne. It didn't seem fair to me to take up his time and rob him of meeting other women, perhaps even his future wife! So I made a covenant with God that I would stay single until He introduced me to His choice. I had seen a picture captioned, “Dance with God and He will allow the right one to cut in.” Well, that’s exactly what I've done. I’ve kept to the motto and obedience to dance with God until He brought the perfect one.
Come January of this year, John contacted me again out of the blue, and asked if I’d like to go to dinner. We went and it was as if God had already ordained this relationship to bloom. We'd talk for hours on the phone; he’d come over and we’d talk until 2 o’clock in the morning. We’d take long walks holding hands, laughing, sharing about our childhoods (neither one of us had an easy one), and talking about losing his wife to cancer. They were married 42 years, and Wayne and I were married 20 years. He lost his wife exactly one month prior to me losing Wayne. We talked about how it was hard to helplessly watch them die a little bit every day.
There were so many similarities in losing our spouses, and I think that’s why we could cry in front of each other. One day as we were sitting on a park bench sharing these similarities it was as if God had planned it perfectly: we looked up and saw two hummingbirds flitting above us! They'd disappear and then return, looking at us as if to say, "It’s okay, time to live, time to love again and enjoy God’s blessings!" Little did either one of us know that both our spouses loved hummingbirds! She had collected them and mine had photographed them. Only God knew……He’s so good.

I shared with him my covenant with God to remain pure until I married again because I felt it was the greatest gift I could ever give to a new husband. Ferree, he was so moved by my covenant with God that he cried! He explained that he had tried dating other women after me, and although he had some enjoyable dates, he said it was the women who came on to him for pure physical pleasure. He said he told them "no," and they would say “What are you, gay?” and other hurtful things. He said he told them that intimacy was reserved for the wedding night and not to be handed out like a piece of sweet candy. Then I cried too! Who would have thought he had made the same covenant as I had? God did!
On April 22nd he called me and asked if I could be dressed and ready to go by 8:00 the next morning? Of course, I could! I awoke early that morning to get ready. I have to admit I was nervous because I had no clue what was planned for the day. Right on time a knock came at the door and when I opened it there he stood, smiling. He asked if I was ready and when I stepped outside there was a black limo, a red carpet rolled up to my door, and a chauffer waiting to open the door and help me into the limo! And of course there were neighbors outside watching (LOL!!) I got in and now I really started getting nervous! I asked where were we going and he said, "Well you said you've always wanted to visit the winery that's the same as your maiden namesake, so I thought we’d go and do it in style."

The drive took about 2 hours to get to the winery, and of course, when a limo pulls up anywhere everyone is curious. The chauffer opened the door and helped me out and as we approached the door to the winery, he opened that one too! Behind it there stood three young ladies, each with a single red rose and they asked, "Are you Deborah?" I’m giggling, and blushing, but I said "Yes," and they gave me each of their roses. Then, the owner of the winery took us on a private tour! Come to find out after talking with him, we actually are related by six generations ago! Who would have thought!
We left that winery and proceeded to drive to two others. Each time I was greeted with three red roses. I looked at my beloved and said, "What’s going on?" He said, "I just want to make today special, as you deserve it."

I remember asking God, Is this real? Am I dreaming? How was I blessed to get a such a romantic gentleman? I looked up and said thank you, Lord. Our last stop was by a lush green meadow with trees. This time when the limo door opened there was a red blanket, a bottle of champagne, two glasses and strawberries.
He led me to the blanket to sit down. He opened the champagne and then said, "I need to read something to you. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t mess up." He read to me all that he'd been looking for in his next spouse; that I had all the traits, plus more he hadn’t even counted on; and that for the last three years he had been praying that if it was the Lord’s will that He would let us reconnect again. He had fallen in love me on our first date in January shortly after my Wayne died. He told me he knew I was the one for him, but he was afraid to share for fear that I didn’t feel the same way, and other sentimental and deep heart emotions. He then laid the paper down and reached inside the basket and brought out a box. He opened the lid and asked if I would marry him! Tears just flowed and I hugged him for the longest time. He said, "Is that a yes? I said "Yes, a thousand times yes!" and then when I saw the ring (band was in the box as well) I about fainted! I looked at him and said "Oh My!" My hand was shaking so badly that he had to lay it flat on the blanket to put the ring on. LOL!!! I have yet to come down from the clouds of that special day and I just praise the Lord every day for this wonderful man He brought into my life.
So I guess what I want to say to other widows who doubt they’ll ever find someone as wonderful as their passed beloved--- if you trust God, He will allow you to have that fairytale ending. So keep your eyes on the Lord, stay obedient and trust Him to select the right one to cut in on your dance. God will truly give you the desires of your heart.

Yes, I had many nights that were lonely, many times where I’d be out and seeing other couples interact. Many times I'd say
Lord, I’m ready to have someone special, I’m ready to be a wife again. I don’t want to be alone forever. I know You’re my husband and I praise You for providing, protecting and comforting me during these hard times. But Lord, I need the physical touch, someone who can hold me tightly when things are off balance, someone to share the joy you’ve placed in me--someone I can live out the rest of my life with while giving YOU praise. But I trust you, Lord, and I will wait for however long it takes.
Anyway, just wanted to share and hoping this might help others. (((HUGS))) Deb B.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Are You Exhausted?

The Exhaustion of Grief
Do you feel a heavy weariness, like you’ve been running a rugged trail with no end in sight? Do you frequently or involuntarily let out a deep sigh, or catch yourself staring blankly into space, your mind stalled?
Grief is work. Hard work. It's emotionally and physically exhausting. You’ve rocketed into an unfamiliar and harsh new sphere without your lifetime friend and support.
All decisions are up to you, and at a time when it’s hard to decide what shoe goes on what foot, the decisions you face are far more important and complex than what shoe? what foot?
The most crucial decision we can make, however, is to acknowledge the exhaustion, the weakness, the draining neediness and vulnerability. It's great if you have friends you can talk to, but there's a certain something that happens when you tell God how you feel.
II Corinthians 12:9
". . . My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness . . ."
It's almost like God is attracted to weakness and neediness. When I'm low--Boom--He is there, waiting to energize me. When I'm tired, frightened, weak, uncertain, insecure, drained, discouraged, anxious, heartsick or broken He is at my side (and yours) with the sufficient opposite grace to transform the need into an opportunity to experience His strength.
Sometimes it's hard to recognize when God's grace is sufficient and His power is perfect, but my prayer for you is that this week your eyes are opened to His work in your life.
What weakness might God want to counteract with His grace in your life this week?
Talk to Him about it and be open to accepting His grace in the infinite variety of forms it may take this week . . .
  • maybe it's just getting this blog post for this day
  • maybe it's seeing a persistent dandelion poke up through a crack in the sidewalk (they never give up!)
  • maybe a tangible need is fulfilled unexpectedly . . .
  • or maybe you can hang on for one more sunrise . . .
In any case, if you're on the verge of exhaustion, you're on the verge of God's grace. It's coming, it's coming! Let me know how I can pray for you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Widows' Group in Cary, NC

Dear Friends,

Here is another widows group with some wonderful ways the Lord is working in their midst. This group is especially close to my heart because I was able to meet and serve with them in March. It was a fantastic time of fellowship and I hope to tell you even more about it in the months to come. But for now, here's the skinny on this sweet group. The widows group director is Margaret Trail and she kindly answered my questions --- for the benefit of us all! Thank you, Margaret!   ferree

Name of the group and/or the church sponsoring it: We are called Widow's Might of Colonial Baptist Church, Cary, North Carolina. 919-233-9100

How long the group has been going: I'm not sure, but I've been a member for almost 10 years.
How often the group meets: We meet the second Tuesday of each month. We are now in the process of adding organized Bible Studies for the widows who work.
Main purpose: 
            The mission of Widow’s Might is to partner with widows, encouraging dependence on God, surrounding members with a loving Christian community and embracing life with hope and promise. 

Please describe your usual meeting:
 Our luncheon meetings are the second Tuesday of each month. Our lunches have a great variety. Sometimes the ladies bring a covered dish or favorite casserole; sometimes boxed lunches or sub sandwiches are on the menu.

In April we met at a local café and enjoyed a wonderful time of fellowship.
For May we will have a missionary from Missions to the Military and a lady from Linking Arms (linking the spouses of the Military with church members). We will provide chicken salad sandwiches and the room will be decorated with red, white and blue. We will pledge the flag and sing patriotic songs.
For June we will have a birthday theme! The ladies will bring a favorite salad. Ice cream sundaes and a birthday cake will be provided. The ladies are asked to bring either a wedding picture or a picture from when they were young and we have to guess who is who. 
What good ideas has your group used that would be good to share with other groups?
  •  In July because of VBS we will meet dressed in red, white and blue, and have hot dogs cooked in a crock pot with all the trimmings, and maybe apple pie for dessert. We hope to play Bingo. Even with other events going on in the church we will meet and enjoy each others company. 
  •  We have a Widow's Might leadership committee who helps in planning our events and helps in many other ways such as sending birthday cards to every widow in our church. We divided the list among each member of the leadership team and they are responsible for 2 months each. Keeping in touch with the widows by cards, visits and phone calls is very important. 
  •  Also, in March we had a Saturday morning brunch and had Ferree come and give a seminar. We asked her to speak to our widows about going from "Surviving to Thriving" after our husbands are gone. And we also had her do a session which was open to all the ladies of the church. It was about how the church can help widows. Afterwards our leadership team took Ferree and her husband, Tom, to lunch to talk about  how we'd like to see our widows ministry reach out. It was a long day for the team, but very worthwhile and we've received excellent feedback. In the midst of broken hearts we're excited about widows ministry and the wondrous ways of how the Lord moves and guides us.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Do You Feel Like You're Living In A Bad Dream?

Dear Reader,     
I think the following letter describes how we've all probably felt--wishing we could wake up and find everything back the way it was . . . It's important to share these feelings.

Something about bringing them out into the open helps enlarge our souls to encompass and absorb the pain. By telling our own story and hearing the stories of others, the shock and trauma slowly becomes manageable.

That's what this blog is all about, by God's grace---its a safe place to grow through this, to figure it out, and to find support from the Lord and other widows. And then, one day, a bit of hope and new life begins to sprout out of the darkness and bad dream. 
"I have been really struggling the past few weeks. I am finding myself so totally overwhelmed by the responsibility of all this—the kids, the house, the finances. My husband and I always shared all of this and it is so hard to not have someone to talk everything over with. I think the hardest thing for me is not being alone so much as being lonely. I know that there are numerous people out there to help me and who are willing to help, but it’s having that one person who knows what you are thinking before you speak, knows everything about you and lets you be totally yourself that I miss the most.

I find myself crying more now than before– did that happen to you? Maybe the shock has finally worn off? I feel like I am living a dream and the phone will ring and it will be my husband calling from South Africa or someplace. He traveled for 3 to 4 weeks at a time so being here alone isn’t that strange, but not having the e-mails and phone calls breaks my heart. Every time I go into my e-mail I want to see his address there with a message. I want to drive to the airport and pick him up from a very long trip but I know that’s not possible and I struggle with that.

I keep trying to find blessings in all of this . . . But it’s so hard to let go of all our dreams and plans and try to imagine a life on my own. I didn’t plan or want to be a single person or parent but I guess God had other plans for me. I’m just so unsure what they are.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to be totally honest with those close to me. I am trying to do that, but I don’t want to be a burden to them. I don’t want to intrude on people’s lives and add more to what they themselves are already dealing with. And I know they struggle with not really understanding what this is like—I know I never did until I reached this place myself. There are no words to describe the pain and grief or the intensity of it."

What do you relate to most in this letter? Please add your comment below. Sharing can be hard, but you'll help yourself and help others if you do. This bad dream chapter of your life won't last forever, so take heart and hope, my friend.
"... Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5b