Showing posts with label Postcards from the Widows' Path. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Postcards from the Widows' Path. Show all posts

Monday, March 11, 2019

Can people in heaven look down and see us?

Dear Friends,
     Have you ever wondered if people in heaven look down and see us?
     This isn't a weird question if you have a loved one who has died. If you've wondered about it, rest assured that many others have too. It came up in my small group at A Widow's Journey Retreat earlier this month and all the ladies were very interested.
     Pastor John Piper at www.desiringGod.org addresses the question with a compassionate and best-as-we-can-know calm that you will appreciate. I'm not able to imbed or copy it onto my site today, but if you click on the following link you'll find both the audio and written version. The audio is only eight minutes long and well worth the time.
     You can listen to it and/or read the text right here.
     Some may find it a little unnerving to think that we are being "watched." (And please don't ever tell a child that "Daddy is watching you." The younger ones will be looking out the window for him and the older ones will think you're batty).  But I don't think it's like that at all, it's not about judgment or loneliness. And I'm sure there are better things to do in heaven than watch us. If they do occasionally look this way I like to think it's when we need to feel them cheering us on, don't you?
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured … Hebrews 12:1,2a NASB
     "Together on this marathon, we run for our lives. The track twists, turns, and changes unexpectedly. At certain points we trip and fall. But on the horizon, eternity stretches out...our finish line. Along the path, like spectators along the course... your loved ones and mine--urge us on.
     God, too, is there. He watches. He urges.
     He knows you and me. Whether you have entered this race as a young mother, a retiree, or somewhere in between--we never signed up for this club--but the marathon has begun.
     Listen as you run, as you struggle and strain.
     Do you hear the cheers from the heavenly grandstand?
     Faintly, faintly they begin from afar."
(adapted from chapter one of Postcards from the Widows' Path). 💗 



Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Year's Resolutions for Widows

NYRs-- New Year Resolutions are often impossible dreams of a perfect life that deflate and whiz away like letting go of an untied balloon aren't they? For widows who are just trying to make it through the next day (or the next breath), that balloon took off a long time ago and took half their heart with it. They need to recover a bit more before the next leg of this journey.

But if you are a widow who's in need of some good hope and direction so you can begin rebuilding your life, some NYRs can be great building blocks. Here are the top __7__ resolutions I'd suggest.


1. January 1st: Go to church. (I hear those groans!) Also go on January 8, 15, 22, and 29 and the rest of the year. I know many of you will say its too painful, but so is medicine or physical therapy, and that's what church attendance will do for you--it helps you heal. We are not lone rangers, we need God's Word and God's people. Make sure you go to a Bible believing and Bible teaching church. Visit around if you must. Allow yourself time and several visits to choose. Going to church will show that you are not merely listening about the Christian life, but that you are actually doing it. (James 1:22 and Hebrews 10:25) God will bless you for it and I don't want you to miss out!

2. Daily Bible reading and prayer. Use a Bible reading plan as a guide, but be gentle with yourself. If you are still dealing with the fog of "widow brain," don't try to read through the whole Bible in a year. Rather, use a year-long book like "Daily Light," or better yet, watch for the plan I'll post here each month. My Bible reading plan will get you through the New Testament, selected Psalms, Proverbs and the Book of Ruth reading just one or two chapters each day. Most importantly: if you miss a day (or many days---it's OK, we've all been there) don't give up, and do NOT try to catch up. Just look at what day it is on the calendar and pick up with the reading on that day. For more ideas use the search box in the sidebar column of this blog to search other sites, like the daily emails from GriefShare. (view online if you're reading this on your phone or email). 

3. Sign up to receive this blog by email. That way you'll never miss a post! See the right side column on this site? Go about halfway down to the box where it says

WidowsChristianPlace delivered straight to your Inbox! Just enter your email address in this box.

 I only publish once or twice a week so your inbox won't be flooded. I never share your email with anyone (I'm very protective!), and if you want to unsubscribe you simply click the unsubscribe button. Easy peasy but always encouraging and informative. Take a look at the Remarks tab above to see what other widows are saying about the WCP.

4. Attend my Bible study for widows in the Florence, SC area. "Rebuilding After Loss" is a 6-week series beginning Friday, Jan. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Florence Baptist Temple, 2308 S. Irby St., Florence, SC. Contact Kent Kendall at [email protected] or me at WCplace[email protected] to hold your place.

5. Attend A Widow's Journey retreat March 3 - 5, 2017. If you haven't registered already click here for more information. This will be a fantastic time to connect with other widows, learn from them, pray with them and gather strength for the journey. Yesterday a widow from California let me know she just registered and hopes to meet! I will check and see if I can get some days off work. How about you?

6. Meet me at a ladies luncheon, on Monday, March 13 at the George Theis Assembly Center, Word of Life Campus, in Hudson, FL. I'll be speaking! Cost of lunch is $10.00. Reservations required. Please email me at [email protected] for contact info.

7. Join a local Christian widows group or start your own by getting a small group together to go through "Postcards from the Widows' Path." Request the free discussion guide with your order and be sure to use the Buy Now button with the discount price of $11.99 in my Bookstore. Not ready for a group yet? "Postcards..." is like a good friend and walking partner. You go ahead and order your individual copy at the discount price too. If you want to pay by check please send $15.98 (includes shipping) to Ferree Hardy, PO Box 5024, Florence, SC 29502

I hope you can choose at least one of these resolutions to follow through with this year. Each one is a step forward that scores of widows have found truly helpful. God will not leave you desolate! He has many good things ahead for your life as you step out to follow Him on this widows path.   ♥ ferree  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Naomi's Story: The Power of Praying for Kindness

From Ruth 1:6-15, and my book Postcards From The Widows' Path...

As Naomi and her daughters-in-law began their fifty mile walk out of Moab, she realized what life would be like in Bethlehem for Orpah and Ruth. They might be social outcasts. Chances of marriage were slim. They would live in poverty. Naomi would eventually die; Orpah and Ruth would be stranded. Naomi carried these thoughts along the path to Bethlehem until she reached a point where it was too far for herself to turn around, but still close enough for the younger Orpah and Ruth to turn back before nightfall.

Her thoughts battled one against the other: she couldn’t let the girls come along, yet the journey was far more dangerous without them. Finally, love won over her worries. "Go back," she commanded. Risking her own life and happiness, she determined to go on alone. We seldom pause to understand what a strong, wise and loving woman Naomi must have been, but Orpah and Ruth knew. I believe that’s one reason they followed her.

Naomi couched her orders for them with a prayer:
May the LORD show kindness to you . . .
May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest . . .

Imagine that a godly older woman puts a hand on your shoulder and utters these words over you. Isn’t that your heart’s desire—kindness and rest? We cannot summon, will, or somehow acquire either one.

Our survival and prosperity are totally dependent upon God’s kindness. Our souls long for rest that is beyond our own provision.

Kindness and rest . . . that was my prayer for myself when I was widowed, and that's my prayer for you today.

ferree

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Stepping Away From Loneliness


I hope you all have a copy of Postcards From the Widows' Path. Not because I wrote it, but because it's based on the story of Ruth and Naomi in the Bible, and offers some real solutions for the challenges of widowhood. God knows our needs and he's given us the Bible as our roadmap and guidebook for life.

Loneliness and isolation are some of the most difficult challenges for widows. The quietness of an empty house and the endless evenings alone can make a widow feel suffocated. She doesn't know where to turn.

Naomi didn't know what to do either. For ten years she was stranded in the foreign land where her husband and her sons died. But if we catch the cues from her story we can cut down that number of years. In my book there are simple journaling exercises that offer constructive gauges and steps along the widows' path. With journalling, widows can look back and see the real progress they've made.

Here's a quick summary of a few steps we can learn from Naomi, Ruth and Orpah. My book illustrates many more:
  • Naomi suffered many losses--her husband, her sons, her homeland, her security, her future. Ruth 1:5 says she was left. Have you felt left behind too? I know I did! But by Ruth 1:7, Naomi does something: she gets ready to leave the graveyard of Moab. When the time comes, we can begin to prepare for the life ahead of us.
  • But if we prepare to leave, where will we go? The book of Ruth shows three choices for widows. 1) Naomi returned to her roots. 2) Orpah remained with the familiar. 3) Ruth risked an entirely new life. These are classic choices for many widows today! Read Joan Wyrtzen Bagg's story from last Tuesday and Wednesday to see how she experienced those choices 5 times during her life so far.
  • What will we need for our journey? Naomi prayed a blessing over her two beloved daughter-in-laws, asking God to grant them kindness and rest. Don't you long for those two words too? They are exactly what at every widow needs!  
  • And then the widows walked. One. Step. At. A. Time. They left the graveyard and journeyed to the Promised Land, a place to call home. As our hearts search for home, we must take one step, one day, one breath at a time. Never more; never less.
Doesn't your heart yearn for a place to belong too? It's a difficult journey, but by following the path and choices of widows in the Bible we can walk away from loneliness too. May God grant us all journeying mercies. ferree

P.S. Have you read "Facing the Death of Someone you Love" by the late Elisabeth Elliot? It's a treasure in a small pamphlet. As a special offer, I'm including one FREE with every "Postcards..." book ordered this month. You can order on Amazon, but the best place to order and get the best shipping and group order prices is directly from me, right here on this blog. Scroll to the top of the page and click the BOOKSTORE line. Thanks!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Opening Our Arms

We conclude our series on 10 Reasons Why The Book of Ruth Is for Widows with, of course, reason #10: It shows redemption and hope for widows!

Widows are living miracles and stories of God's glory. Their influence and legacy can far outlive them, reaching generations hundreds of years from now. What story will you leave for your church, friends, career or family? What words will come to mind at the mention of your name? Courageous? Godly? Loving? Or words like heartbroken, depressed and lonely...? There is still time to live and love, and it starts N-O-W. Let's read what happened to Naomi in an excerpt from my book, page 213.

Naomi held a newborn baby in her arms and as he looked into her eyes, this is what she learned—good things could still happen. Her girlfriends assured her that this grandson would renew her life and care for her as she aged. Naomi accepted this baby, drew him to herself and became his primary caretaker.

God has the uncanny ability to distill goodness out of the worst disasters when we open our arms and hearts to receive them as Naomi did. He’s comfortable with paradigms—with grandmothers serving as mothers, with widows finding new love, with faith as an action rather than a feeling. He’s the Man of Sorrows, yet is always rejoicing.

How can God contain and engineer what we consider such irreconcilable differences—joy and sorrow, life and death, faith and despair? Is it because He takes each life and makes it a story, because He’s the author and He knows the ending?

We get caught up in wanting our story to be that of the princess and Prince Charming, living happily-ever-after with perfect children. We would all choose a cookie-cutter life that looks just like everyone else’s: safe, predictable, indulgent . . . 

But God, the literary artist, would rather burst into our life and turn it into something amazing and full of miracles. Miracles aren’t always as we’d like—that we are healthy, strong, beautiful, rich and happy-ever-after. God’s miracles are of a much higher order. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard . . .

Sometimes He writes chapters into our lives in which the biggest miracle is that we still trust Him. That, like Naomi, we pick up our broken hearts and shattered dreams and determine to put one foot in front of the other until we find God and His place of blessing and redemption. The true miracle is that we go to Him when we feel He has abandoned and attacked us or knocked us off our swing. It’s a miracle that we turn to Him, and return to Him, just as we are, full of complaints and bitterness. It’s a miracle that we wait and watch for our redemption, no matter how long it takes.

With God all things are possible, even with you. May your miracle begin today as the Lord patiently waits for us to ask to know Him better. ferree

Dear Lord,
I lift my arms to receive your grace. Open my eyes to gaze upon my future and help me fulfill the purpose and legacy you have left me here to accomplish. Good things still happen, Lord, and I thank you that I am part of your plan.

Amen

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Permission Granted!

We're nearing the end of this series on
 10 Reasons Why Ruth Is For Widows
Today we're on this reason...
9. The Book of Ruth shows that not all widows want to or will get remarried and that’s OK!

permission-granted.png

I felt like someone had given me a permission slip when I discovered this truth--I don't have to get remarried to be happy--It's OK to be single! Previously it seemed like my future as a widow was a big black hole of nothingness if I didn't get married. But Naomi's life changed all that for me. And then, ironically, I did get married.

Gleaning from Naomi's life relieved me to be free from the pressure to marry and the discontent of singleness before I met Tom. I was permitted to be happy again! To be free! To be OK! To be on my own with God and step out of my husband's shadow. All that came to me from Naomi's example.

Here's a snippet of insight --(a tidbit of food for thought in this small post)-- from chapter 16 of Postcards from the Widows' Path----
I have a feeling Naomi could have married Boaz—she had “first rights.” Maybe she just didn’t want to remarry. As I talk to widows I find some like Naomi. It’s not that they can’t remarry, they just don’t want to; they are God’s individual creation, content with their identity, accepting of their lot, even preferring it to remarriage. It reminds me that when God created Adam He created Eve to help Adam; but He didn’t create anyone to help Eve! We women were designed by God to be the helpmate, not to necessarily need a helpmate. I think we’re far better equipped to handle solo living than men are.
What about you? Are you ready to fly solo? Do you honestly prefer marriage? Why not check your current state of thoughts and feelings about remarriage. No one is going to judge your answer, this is simply a gauge for your heart. Check it again in 6 months to see if you've changed:
___Never. Re-marriage is not for me. I don’t want it.
___Probably not. I think it’s a statistical impossibility. 
___Maybe, if I met the right man.
___I’d do anything to get married again.
___I’m not ready to risk losing another husband.
Use the following verse as a prayer for your journey as a widow. The Lord truly will show you the way He's chosen for you as you lift your soul to Him. Whether you remarry or not, His love never fails and that's what matters most.  ferree
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Remarriage? What to Look For

For widows who want to remarry, the Book of Ruth illustrates the character traits to look for in a new husband, and it shows the virtues to build while single. Virtues like patience, trust, gratitude, humility, respect, abstinence, perserverance and prayer...things that every Christian should strive for but widows get to exercise them all in this particular trial called bereavement.

But what about remarriage? Are there especially good traits to look for in a man?

Let me list the qualities I saw in Boaz, the man who married Ruth. These might not be all the qualities of a great husband but they helped me know that Tom was right for me when I met him. I'm glad Tom decided I was right for him too!

The following list is from chapter 15 of my book. This chapter also tells about the weirdest week of my life and further explains the character qualities, but I think you can benefit from this brief list too. 
  • Boaz put God first
  • He appreciated and understood Ruth's actions and character
  • He was sensitive to her possible fears
  • He didn't make promises he couldn't keep
  • He was concerned for Ruth's safety and reputation
  • He was generous and well-mannered
  • He was comfortable and accepting of Ruth's strength
  • He didn't procrastinate
  • He was financially secure
However, it's not all about the man! Ruth equalled Boaz in virtue (Ruth 3:11); they were a match! So, ladies, please don't imagine Ruth was a helpless princess waiting around for her knight in shining armor to come to her rescue.
 
It's not all about the two lovers either! Ruth never would have met and married Boaz without working in the barley field and listening to the promptings of her friend and mother-in-law Naomi. I myself would have never met and married Tom without some effort and the promptings of my friend Laura. God's plans come to fruition in the community of God's people, not in isolation.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Ruth worked in a barley field----where do I work, volunteer, worship, learn and fellowship? Where can I venture today to meet new people and enrich my life?
  • Ruth listened to Naomi---who is my Naomi? Who's wise? Who knows me and wants what's best for me? To whom can I be a friend like Naomi?
If you want your life to change, then start changing your life today according to God's Word. Take the first small step today.  ferree

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2 Keys for Transforming Loss

With reason #7 today in our series about why Ruth is for widows, I could write two more books!

The Book of Ruth shows
 
two keys for transforming loss:
 
finding favor and exercising gratitude.
 
But instead of more books let's take some quick thoughts on each of these keys.
FINDING FAVOR
Here's what I mean by "finding favor" and it comes from Ruth 2:2 (NIV)--
And Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain behind anyone in whose eyes I find favor.”
Like Ruth, a widow needs to be willing to work and earn respect as a good worker, but she should pray that she may work for someone with a favorable and positive attitude about her. I don't mean that they'll discriminate in her favor. Employers must provide a good and fair work atmosphere for everyone and not show favoritism. But on the other hand, they should not greedily take advantage of a widow's plight, and they should value her experience and wisdom.
Realize that many people will sympathize with a widow but they remain afraid of her. Afraid of her grief, her femininity, her circumstances. I know many widows who've felt that. So just as Ruth asked Naomi to grant her authority to seek employment and favor, so too should widows ask the Lord to find favorable work. It might be full-time, part-time, volunteer, or with a temp agency, but where ever a widow seeks to contribute her time, finding favor can be the key sign of what the Lord has opened up for her.  

EXERCISING GRATITUDE
Many books have already been written about gratitude and the key it plays in helping us through grief and life in general. But did you know we also see it in the Book of Ruth? It's rather amazing that the wisdom of gratitude is over 3000 years old!
When Ruth came home from her first day on the job and showed Naomi all the "favor" Boaz granted her, Naomi's burst with exclamations of praise and gratitude. (Ruth 2:19-20) Verse 19 states
Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”
These words are opposite the cries of despair and God's mistreatment that Naomi vented in Ruth 1:20-22. And what's amazing to me is that they are the turning point in this book! Instead of bitterness, Naomi is blessing!
She didn't have to do that. Instead, she could have leaned into her grief and turned her face to the wall when Ruth got home that evening. She could have compared Ruth's work to what her late husband would have brought home. She could have regretted it was Ruth coming through that door instead of her husband. Do you see what I mean?
Naomi opened her eyes to see the answer to prayer. She saw grace and favor and she was thankful. Do you remember the blessing jar I've encouraged you to fill this year? I've been lax in recognizing my blessings so far. If you have too, why not join me in determining to be more like the Naomi we read about today? Let's trade our bitterness for blessing, OK?
Although we must be realistic about our losses and we've got to work through them, every time we catch a regret or comparison we can also catch something good that's happened too. Watch for it, jot it down, and put it in your jar. Try for one a day with me. Some days you might not see one, but on other days you'll find many. Being thankful and praising God for His work in your personal life can change everything!  ferree

(Wondering about how to make a blessing jar? Just type "blessing jar" in the Search for Keywords on This Blog box at the right side of this post and see the Dec. 16, 2014 post. As always, if this post arrives in your email inbox simply click on the title line at the top of this page to get to the WCP blog itself so you can view it. Thanks!)

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Many Layers of Loss

This week we'll continue this series and look at 5 more reasons why Ruth is for widows. Today is #6:

The Book of Ruth shows
the many layers of loss
a widow may experience.

Three little words sum up what happened to Naomi: "...she was left..." (Ruth 1:3) Their clinical starkness startles me with the shock, despair and helplessness she must have felt. Three little words shouldn’t be the end result of her investment of nurture and love for her husband and sons.

Worse yet, Naomi was left in a foreign country. Today Moab would be in the country of Jordan, approximately fifty miles from Bethlehem, about an hour-long drive by car. But in Naomi’s time it was a four or five-day journey by foot. They could not communicate by mail, telephone or e-mail with the people back home. Naomi was virtually cut off. She had left her house, her mother, her friends, neighbors and everything familiar back in Bethlehem. She submissively followed her husband to a foreign place she had probably never even seen before— and then she was left.

She lost her husband who, according to cultural norms of the day was at the very least her personal security, financial support and structure of her time. Her life circled around him like the moon around the earth.

In a sweeping and final devastation, her sons’ deaths stripped her of all hope and her personal identity for the future. The original Hebrew denotes this by deleting her name in verse three. She’s simply referred to as the woman.* Naomi’s life was blown apart.

A year after my husband died I began to realize losing my husband wasn’t a straight and easy street through mourning and then it was over and done. The street had potholes the size of elephants and I stumbled and fell into them time after time! I broke in many places as I realized all my losses! I had lost my dear friend, my parenting partner, my spiritual leader, and my lover. I’d lost my daily routine of prioritizing around his schedule. And the church’s schedule!—I’d lost my calling as a pastor’s wife, too. I’d lost my dreams of grand-parenting and growing old with him.

I identified with Naomi. As scripture stated she was left, so, too, was I. I was left to raise our children and make important decisions alone. I was left without the comfort, security and daily routine of marriage. I was left to face a future I did not want. I understood why the original Hebrew deleted Naomi’s name, reducing her to “the woman.” I felt like half a person and secretly pondered my value and purpose. 
 
Admitting my multiple losses was painful. But if I not listed my losses and brokenness, I never would have known that the pain was cutting deep places for joy. ferree


* Robert L. Hubbard, The Book of Ruth, (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1988), p. 96.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

What Makes A Good Friend During A Crisis?

Today we're on the 4th reason why the Book of Ruth is for widows and I want to share some excerpts from my book about the great friendship between Ruth and Naomi. You'll see Ruth's side of the friendship so please remember this was not a one-sided relationship. Naomi, too, gave everything she had for Ruth.

(Postcards from the Widows' Path, pages 82-84)

"Although Naomi didn’t want to admit it, she needed Ruth. Neither woman was in an ideal circumstance, neither was there by an easy choice. Thrown together in Moab, Ruth’s example shows us what it takes to be a good friend when our friendships are in crisis.

Ruth was available. She was the sort of friend who sticks closer than a brother. When Naomi mentioned going back to Bethlehem, there was no hesitation, no second-guessing. Ruth was the sort of friend who, if you called her, would be on the next flight. She wouldn’t screen her phone calls, or be text messaging someone else while listening to you. If you needed her, she’d clear her schedule.          

Ruth was committed to Naomi. In the stages of grief, committed friends are very important. They are proactive. They don’t just say, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.” They give you something to look forward to. They invite you to lunch, they go on a walk with you, they phone. They might not be able to drop everything every time you need to talk, but they do arrange intentional times with you.

When people ask what the best thing anyone did for me, I tell them about my sister-in-law, Kathy Bowman. For the first month or two after Bruce died, she called me every weekday morning. She didn’t promise me she would, didn’t ask me if I wanted her to, she just did. Once I realized what she was doing, I looked forward to her calls. They were chatty and cheerful, just ordinary, and helped me remember what normal life was like. Committed companionship, someone you can depend on when life is undependable is a sign of a true friend.

A quick Facebook survey of widows I know showed that the sheer numbers of people attending the funeral of calling hours was very meaningful to them. Also, personal and thoughtful gifts and tangible help were very significant, like visits to the cemetery, invitations to go out to eat, and offering to stay to eat that casserole instead of just dropping it off. Attempts to maintain the friendship are very important to a widow.

Ruth was acquainted with grief. She was a survivor, too, and Naomi respected her for that. We don’t see her shocked, worried or angered about Naomi and the things she said and did. She didn’t get offended when Naomi told the village she came back empty. (Ruth 1:21) Perhaps they talked through some of the weirdness of grief, the ups and downs, the unexpected joys, the sudden cloudbursts of sorrow. It’s wonderful to have a friend who has grieved well, to whom you can freely discuss mysteries and the afterlife.

Most importantly, Ruth wanted to have the true God in her life, and she was following after Him. She had a higher priority than her own feelings. This enabled her to treat Naomi with grace, and not be easily offended when overlooked. She didn’t see herself as Naomi’s savior, aide or supporter. Only God could do that. Ruth came alongside Naomi to accompany her on the journey to God’s promised land.

Friends who are acquainted with grief, who will be available and committed to walk beside you on your journey to God, are gifts from above. And, like Ruth, young and foreign, they might be whom we would least expect."

Have you, too, found some unexpected friends in your life? ferree

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2 Essential Needs of Widows.

Today we continue our series on 10 Reasons Why The Book of Ruth Is for Widows
 
On Thursday and Friday of last week we saw the first two reasons--
1. It’s all about widows! When we look at Ruth through the eyes of a widow we can learn all about grief and God and the journey!
2. It shows the 3 paths a widow could choose from after the funeral. Would you like to see your choices spelled out? Take a look at Friday's post.
 
Today we'll see reason #3. It tells the 2 essential needs of widows.
 
Every widow has a unique set of needs, but when I was widowed and found two particular needs mentioned in Ruth I was amazed at how Naomi brilliantly tagged the essential needs of all widows.

Take a look at Ruth 1:8,9a (NIV)
Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.
Fill in the blanks to what needs Naomi prayed the Lord would fulfill for her daughters-in-law.
May the Lord show you _______________
May the Lord grant that each of you will find _____________

Naomi prays for Kindness and Rest for her young widowed daughters- in- law. Can I get a show of hand for how many widows would like some kindness and rest in their own lives?  Whatever her circumstance---whether she's left well off, or bereft I believe each widow needs the kindness of her friends, family, clergy and strangers. She needs to find the rest that the companionship and security of another husband can provide AND/OR the rest of a close relationship in knowing the Lord as her husband/protector/redeemer.

I'm not sure I would have embraced or even accepted that I personally had these needs in the early shock of widowhood. Do you? But as I've matured through the experience, trusted God and his Word more, and have seen and heard the cries of the hundreds of widows I come in contact with, I hold true to kindness and rest as essential helps along the widows' path.

May the Lord grant YOU kindness and rest today!
ferree

To save 20% on my book Postcards from the Widows' Path during my once-a-year sale (only in February) click here:

BOOK SALE


(As always, if this post arrives in your email inbox and the link isn't showing up, simply click on the title line at the top of this page to get to the WCP blog itself so you can view it. Thanks!)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Why Ruth Is For Widows #2

Reason #2.
It shows the 3 paths a widow could choose after the funeral.
When we look at the three widows in the Book of Ruth, we see that they each chose distinct paths. Understanding these paths can help widows today realize and define the choices they also might have. 
 
Orpah REMAINED in her homeland, with her familiar surroundings.
 
Naomi RETURNED to her roots not knowing if she had any life left but stepping out in faith.
 
Ruth RISKED everything to follow Naomi and find God.
 
Remain
Return
Risk
 
Let me clarify that Orpah's “remaining” is not a sinful choice. People like to judge Orpah, but it’s based on Naomi’s assumption that she will return to "her gods.” (Ruth 1:15). Of course returning to idolatry is wrong, but remaining with the familiar is often a wise choice for the early days of widowhood and grief if at all possible.
 
Which path are you on?
 
As we consider Naomi's example we can see that at first she remained where she was for at least 10 years after her husband died, (Ruth 1:3-5), but after her sons died is when she decided to return to what was left of her family home in Bethlehem. There's a clue about her decision to return in Ruth 1:6 which sets a good guideline for our own decision making and it's this: God was on the move in Israel; He'd come to their aid and was providing food for them after the famine. Are we willing to relocate by faith to a place where God is blessing?
 
Are you beginning to see why I say "Ruth is for widows?" The details of Ruth bring our issues and challenges out in the open! I'll continue to briefly touch on more reasons throughout the rest of February and I hope you'll be encouraged, enriched and amazed at God's providence, grace and deep love for widows.  
ferree
 
To save 20% on my book Postcards from the Widows' Path during my once-a-year sale (only in February) click here:

BOOK SALE

(As always, if this post arrives in your email inbox and the link isn't showing up, simply click on the title line at the top of this page to get to the WCP blog itself so you can view it. Thanks!)
 
 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

10 Reasons Why The Book of Ruth Is For Widows

If you’ve been in church world for a while no doubt you’ve heard sermons on the Book of Ruth and what a wonderful picture of redemption it presents. Boaz is likened to our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and Ruth is likened to we who are in need of redemption and unable to save ourselves. Boaz shows Ruth unmerited favor, just as Christ does for his chosen ones.

But as true and sweet an allegory as that is, let’s not overlook the fact that first and foremost Ruth is about widows! It's all about widows! The main characters—Ruth and Naomi are widows! Ruth is a young widow, Naomi is a middle-aged or older widow.  A secondary character, Orpah, is also a young widow. Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer might have also been widowed since mention of his first wife is never made.  Hmm… I love the story of Christ our Redeemer, but should we not acknowledge the obvious and wonder what could be of interest to widows in this book?
There are only two books in the Bible featuring a woman—the Book of Ruth and the Book of Esther. (Ruth was a widow, and Esther was an orphan! James 1:27!) It’s very significant to realize that God inspired Scripture to devote an entire book to a widow’s plight. God cares about widows!  He knows the risks they’ll face, the courage they’ll need and the deep and gutsy faith they will display, and He is pleased to provide and care for them.
Join me for the rest of February as we look into these ten reasons why Ruth is for widows. I've touched on the first reason today. When we look at Ruth through our widow eyes we'll come away knowing that just as certain as God had a plan for Ruth and Naomi, He has a purpose for widows  today.  

ferree

10 Reasons Why Ruth Is For Widows

 1. It’s all about widows!
 2. It shows the 3 paths a widow could choose after the funeral.
 3. It gives the 2 essential needs of widows.
 4. It provides an example of the sort of friend a grieving widow needs.
 5. It shows the extraordinary courage and faith of two widows.
 6. It shows the many layers of loss a widow can experience, even down to the core of her identity.
 7. It gives the two keys to transforming loss—finding favor and exercising gratitude.
 8. For widows who want to remarry it illustrates the character traits to look for in a new husband,      shows the virtues that they can build while single.
 9. It shows that not all widows want to or will get remarried and that’s OK!
10. It shows redemption and hope for widows!  

To save 20% on my book Postcards from the Widows' Path during my once-a-year sale (only in February) click here: 

 BOOK SALE 

(As always, if this post arrives in your email inbox and the link isn't showing up, simply click on the title line at the top of this page to get to the WCP blog itself so you can view it. Thanks!)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #5

Dear Reader,

I hope you'll join me in praying for our 9/11 families who suffered loss and who courageously carry on and continue to serve in their communities and our country. Please pray for our public servants and our military, and that the Lord would see fit to continue his mercies and kindness to all.

This concludes the discussion guide, and you now have all 5 weeks worth. Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and I hope my book Postcards from the Widows' Path has provided you the perfect opportunity.
Remember, you can gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation any time, and with just about any book or blog. It can be your own casual group of friends, or an organized church event. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope. ferree

Week 5: Blessing—chapters 21-25 of Postcards...; Ruth 4 

Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Find out if anyone did the research on Matthew 1. Ask if they were surprised by the number of widows in the geneology of Christ and if they found it significant.

Discussion Questions

· Which of the struggling women's stories in chapter 21 did you find the most tragic or unsettling? How can knowing about their struggles help us with our own?

· Who are the women in your family line who have overcome obstacles and hardships?

· Which Hebrew name for God on page 201 means the most to you?

· Sketch a timeline of your life as described on page 208. Use it to briefly tell a bit about your life.

· What difference would it make in the world today if we began to treat the people in our sphere of influence as if they will someday be royalty?

· What might intrigue you about Isaiah 54:5?

· Do you "run your race" any differently now as compared to when you first started this journey? Compare your answers on pages 227 in section five, and page 11 in section one.

· Name three different things you look forward to in heaven.

Conclusion: Thank everyone for coming and decide if you'd like to get together in a month or so for a social time. You've probably begun to develop some good friendships so give everyone a chance to exchange phone numbers or email addresses if they haven't done so by now. If the Lord leads, close your time together by forming a circle, hold hands, or each place a hand on another's shoulder and read the blessing on page 201 as a prayer over all of you. Or follow your previous closing prayer routine.
 
P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Book Discussion, Week #4

Dear Reader,

Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.
Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth.
ferree
 
Week 4: Waiting—chapters 16-20 of Postcards... ; from Ruth 3:1-4:8
 
Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Some widows remove their wedding ring right away, others will never remove it. How does everyone feel about their wedding ring?

Discussion Questions

· Why do you suppose the villagers didn't pitch in right away and initiate the kinsman-redeemer help for Naomi and Ruth? Do you think you might be in the same sort of waiting period Naomi and Ruth were in? Let’s list some ways they could have responded to this frustrating situation.

· Which response did you check off on page 155 regarding remarriage?

· How different is dating in today's culture from when you and your husband were dating?

· What safeguards do you think are best for a widow? Why is it important to protect virtue?

· Have there been times when you've felt like you've been waiting in the dark like Ruth? (page 170)What happens to faith when we can't see ahead? 

· Which verse on page 172 meant the most to you? Explain why if you'd like.

· Which character traits of Boaz would you most admire if you met a potential "Boaz" today?

· What would happen if you had a "Naomi" in your own life? When have you found yourself being a "Naomi" to another widow?

Conclusion: Take prayer requests and close in prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time to talk about section five—Blessing. Remind them to read the chapters and do the journaling exercises. This time they may also do some research if interested: Read Matthew 1 and list all the women mentioned in the genealogy of Christ. After counting them, find out how many of them were widows.
 
P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #3

Dear Reader,
Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.

Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth. ferree

Week 3: Working—chapters 11-15 of Postcards...; from Ruth 2:1-23
 
Icebreaker: Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? Have you had any days this past week when you could barely "Do the next thing?" Is anyone in the group having sleeping problems?

Discussion Questions

· What sort of needs did Ruth and Naomi encounter? How are they similar to widows’ needs today?

· How can needs be doorways of opportunity? How would a prayer for kindness and rest, and Ruth's looking for a field in which she'd find favor, apply today?

· How would you have felt if you were waiting, like Ruth, for Boaz to determine your fate?

· Have you personally found your relationship to Christ to be at the "My daughter" level, or is it more impersonal? (page 114).

· Who are the people in your life who play roles similar to Ruth, Naomi and Boaz?

· Which of the roles on a "board of directors" for a widow do you think would be helpful? (page 140)

· How can gratitude truly provide a turning point in a widow's life?

· What are you most afraid of? What sort of help do you need to face that fear?

· What are some practical tips and words of advice you've heard since the funeral?

Conclusion: Take prayer requests and close in prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time to talk about section four—Waiting. We'll discuss our experiences and perhaps frustrations of waiting for help, talk about dating and remarriage in today's society, virtue, and what each one might like to look for in a man.

P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.

For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.

And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Discussion Guide, Week #2

Dear Reader,

Blogs are a good resource for widows, but it’s so good to talk face to face with other widows, and my book Postcards from the Widows' Path provides the perfect opportunity. Over the next several weeks, every Thursday, I'll post each of the five sections of the discussion guide to Postcards.... That way you will always be able to access it right here in the blog whenever you're ready for a group. I think this will be a good solution for my overseas friends like Babs, in England, who's in a widows group the Lord is beginning. This way she won't have to wait for it in the mail.

Maybe you'd like to gather two, three or more widows or others for a time of friendship, support and meaningful conversation too. Meet around your kitchen table, or a casual coffee shop, or your church library---any place that's comfortable and distraction free. You’ll cherish the sacred reflections and find renewed hope as we journey through Ruth.

Week 2: Changing—chapters 6-10 of Postcards...; from Ruth 1:10-22 

Icebreaker Which postcard did you like most? Which chapter was your favorite? Which journaling exercise was most helpful for you? If you could live anywhere in the world you wanted, where would you choose to go?

Discussion Questions

· On page 59 is a list of some misconceptions which are easy to believe when we are suffering. Which one do you think is the most common for people today?

· Discuss the three choices for widows in chapter 7. In which group do you find yourself---1) remain? 2) return? 3) risk?

· During grief, some widows are drawn closer to the wonder and love of God, as Ruth. Others struggle like Naomi. How do you see faith existing in both of these women?

· Have friendships changed for you since your husband died? If so, what are some character traits you need to look for in new friendships?

· How would you have felt and responded to the villagers of Bethlehem if you were Naomi returning home after ten years and so much loss?

· There are both similarities and differences between Naomi's outburst in Ruth 1:21 and Christ's cry from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? How are they similar? How are they vastly different?

· Do you view your experience in following God as closer to Ruth's or more like Naomi's?

Conclusion: Take prayer requests and close in prayer. Thank everyone for coming and decide when and where you'll meet next time to talk about section three—Working—taking the next step, a turning point in grief, safe people and much more!

P.S. The best place to order Postcards From The Widows' Path is right here on this blog. Click on the Bookstore tab at the top of the page and you'll find a safe and secure PayPal button. You don't need a PayPal account either. If you prefer to pay by check, please email me with the # of books you want to order and your shipping address. I ship by media mail only and your order will arrive in 2 - 9 days.
For International orders, you must email me first with your country and mailing code so I can send you an invoice which you can securely pay with a credit card.
And finally, if you'd like a free printed copy of the discussion guide, please email me at [email protected]