Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts

Monday, June 10, 2019

A Prayer for Boys Without Fathers on Father's Day

Dear Lord,

I'm not saying that daughters are easier to raise, but there's a certain heartache when I think about boys without fathers. There are way too many of them, for a variety of reasons, but today I bring the widows' sons to you, my own included, even though he's an adult now and I'm remarried.

Help me cling to you, Lord. To put my hope in you for your mercy and grace on our sons. Whether they turn to you and draw close to you as their father God, or whether they turn to the world as prodigals, help us turn our burdens for them over to you, in full faith of your love and faithfulness.

Fritz Zuber Buhler (1822-1896)
Let us know you as the one who promised, "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30)
Let us realize that you are aware of their situation and unwilling that any should perish. Quicken the inner man of our sons to make them alive in Christ. Draw them to yourself, strengthen them to desire you and to choose to obey you.
Help us as mothers to walk in obedience to you, to model a growing love for you and a desire to serve you with delight rather than a list of demands. Help us know the difference between your commands which bring life, and Pharisee-like demands which drain life.

Lord, too often the men who would be so helpful to our boys are either too blind or too busy to see how our sons need them. It hurts to see our sons so neglected by the church and our families. We ask, we suggest, and then give up; they don't understand what a painful effort it is to ask. Nor how discouraging it is when promises and good intentions aren't kept. We do notice, we are hurt, and our sons are very wounded by the disappointment and added grief of neglect and disinterest. Strengthen us and move on our behalf. If they still don't budge, help us forgive them, and cause your Holy Spirit to fill in this gap for our sons.

Lord, you are my defender! You are a father to the fatherless! You daily bear my burdens! Give me faith to believe those promises!

I cover this in Jesus name,

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
who daily bears our burdens
Psalm 68:5, 19 (NIV)

Monday, June 3, 2019

For the Month of June: 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 Bruce, 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.*
P.S. I'll be away from the Internet and won't be able reply to comments 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.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial weekend...

Memorial weekend...

I wish I could plant flowers at my husband Bruce's grave.

I wish I could plant them at Marilyn Hardy's too. And my mom's and grandparents. 

I wish we could visit their cemeteries often. 
But I live a 10 hour drive (at least)-- away from them all.

And I'm so grateful for the military people who are honored on this weekend. That's the right thing to do. 

Yet, if you're like me, you have your own "fallen heroes" too and you have many wishes and sighs and that tightness in your throat...

Monday, February 11, 2019

Dealing with Valentine's Day Loneliness

Dealing with Valentine's Day

 Valentine's Day countdown has begun. About 110 million roses will be sold, and more than 58 million pounds of chocolate will fatten women's hips. Other women's...sadly. I understand. I've been widowed too. My first husband, Bruce, died instantly of a brain aneurism on Feb. 15, 2000 --the day between the big V and my birthday.

 It doesn't hurt like it used to, although I wanted it to hurt always. I never wanted to forget, but the years have drawn a shade over the grief and lifted the weight. I don't know if that will give you some hope today, but hope is a precious commodity so I want to give it out to as many as will accept it. Contrary to popular quotes and memes, Grief does not last forever. But I've been blogging and reaching out to widows since 2010 so I know it can feel like forever when you're in the middle of it. Suffocating at times. 

If you feel on the verge of getting pulled into the vicious vortex of Valentine's Day loneliness, here are some ideas I've collected over the years from other widows. You might be able to transform it by thinking ahead and using these ideas to do something different. If you want to pretend the day doesn't exist and not acknowledge it at all, that's okay too. I often find that people deal with sorrow in two different ways: 
  • remember/memorialize it
  • or choose to leave it alone. It's in the past, its been dealt with, and its time for the next chapter.
Depending on your background and personality, both of these methods can work. There's a third way too---have a pity party, but that won't get us anywhere.

If you'd like to memorialize the day or give yourself something to look forward to, here are a variety of things that might be meaningful for you: 
  • Visit the cemetery and leave a message of candy conversation hearts to melt into the snow
  • Tie a home-made Valentine to a helium balloon and let it fly away to heaven
  • Collect old Valentines and love letters and put them together in a decorative memory box keepsake.
  • Create a collage of photos and frame it to hang on a wall or stand on your dresser.
  • Buy a package or two of school Valentine cards. Send them to your own children, nieces & nephews or other family members. Write a little love note on them.
  • Or send Valentines to various groups--nursing homes, children's hospital wards, missionary kids you pray for, your childrens' ministry leaders, your Bible study group or group leaders . . .
  • Offer to babysit for a married couple so they can enjoy a romantic evening out. Prepare a lot of fun things to do with the kids so you don't end up bored and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Invite other widows over for tea or coffee and snacks, or a carry-in lunch or supper. Give them an opportunity to share their stories and send them home with a love verse from the Bible.
  • Do something nice for yourself: sign up for a class about anything you're interested in--from Acrobatics to Zebra farming; join a church or community group; get a library card and use it; rent a musical instrument or buy an Irish whistle (I'm having so much fun learning to play mine!); volunteer or find a part-time job...
--hey, I'm getting carried away here, but you get the idea. Plan some 
and show yourself some love and kindness.

If, on the other hand, you just want to forget the day that's OK too. At least your pants will still fit without that 58 million pounds of chocolate.

Do you have some new ideas to share about dealing with Valentine's Day? Please comment today. I love to read everything that comes in and will post it asap. Other widows love reading your comments too and find them a big help.

P.S. Have you ordered your copy of Postcards from the Widows' Path yet for yourself or a friend? Take advantage of a 20% off sale if you order here in my bookstore. (Not on Amazon!) Thanks!

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas Prayer for You

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us.
Matthew 1:23 (NASB)
Dear God,
You've embedded our seasons and calendars with remembrances of you. The stars shine brighter in these long nights of December, the earth demonstrates your widom as it gives way to seasons of rest and replenishment. Weather fronts swirl both snow and balm around our globe, the moon pulls tides in and out, and planets follow their courses in a cycle of centuries.
Nations rise against nations, republics succeed and fail; houses are built, lovers are loved, babies are born-- some grow old--some do not... But whether only five years old or ninety-five, all eventually die. Yet against this massive and brutal canvas of nature and man your prophets and Scripture lay this claim:

Immanuel: You. Are. With. Us.
You are with the widow too. Such knowledge is too wondrous! We ask, as Mary asked the angel, "How can this be?"
How is it that the Creator of the universe--each galaxy, star, solar system, planet, continent, nation, people group, family, and person-- how is it that you come to us as Immanuel?
Renew and revive our sense of your presence in the cold beauty and long nights of December and grief. For when we know you are with us, we know we can make it through. When our own strength and hope are gone, "God with us," is all that matters.
When our Creator reaches through all of his creation to touch our life and enter our world, we begin to live again.
Grant us this peace and life through your presence this Christmas, Immanuel.

Wishing you a sacred and precious Christmas through the touch of Jesus Christ, ❤ferree

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.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tips from the Front Line of Widowhood

A dear friend, Kim, going through her third Christmas as a widow, wrote to me about yesterday's post, "3 Tips for Christmas Plans." I know that many will benefit from her experiences and responses and she kindly permitted me to post her comments today. Loneliness and grief are such a battle at times and Kim was on the front line of it this weekend . . .

Ferree, I think these points are so very important, even for those of us who have been widowed for years. Holidays bring up so many memories. This will be my 3rd Christmas without my beloved, and while I’m doing a lot better then I was in the past two years, I knew better then to over-do. 

1. Give yourself something to look forward to: This is the first year I’ve had a tree. I bought this little tabletop tree (a whopping 18” tall), and the tiny little ornaments that go with it. The tree is loaded with lights (I get this from my dad), and I actually enjoy turning it on in the evening. “Our” tree now brings joy to a family in church who needed a tree. The rest of “our” decorations are safely tucked away in a plastic tub and stored for down the road — or never again. Those Christmas cards? I took them out, and put them back in the drawer. Perhaps next year. Perhaps not.

2. Escape plan: needed this last night. :-/ Christmas potluck at church and I felt so alone, surrounded by all these happy couples and families. To close the evening we had a small Christmas program with the little ones, and I began to fall apart. I should have grabbed my purse and left, but I actually felt ashamed at myself. How stupid is that? I know better. I know it’s all okay. So I suffered through it all, came home and had a good cry, and then laid it all at the foot of the cross. Today I am fine; and I am firm in my resolve that if I need to escape — I will do so! 

3. Best friend: Thanks for this, I can now plan you for that new little appliance I’m going to buy. (LOL har har). I know it will make mealtime easier and healthier for me — and anything that makes mealtime for one person easier and healthier is a good thing. I’ve also been cashing in on the offers for help, and a group of men from church have helped me clean all of my late husbands things out of the garage. They’ve dealt with everything, and even taught me how to use the tools that are basic. I can now drill holes with the best of them, and I have my own socket wrench and can put shelves and things together. Yeah me! HAHA

Merry Christmas, Ferree, and all the other widows out there who are reading this. Remember to put CHRIST in your Christmas, and to focus on the One who was born so that He could die and rise again for your sins. Oh what joy heaven will be!