Showing posts with label Read . . . and learn about Grief. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Read . . . and learn about Grief. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Widowhood: A Wilderness Journey

In the midst of grieving, with chaotic emotions, crucial decision-making, and stress that tops the Richter scale, its important to realize that for the Christian, life is a pilgrimage and widowhood is a journey through a wilderness.

What will we encounter in the wilderness of widowhood?  

We'll stumble upon many of the same things people in the Bible went through in their wilderness journeys. Abraham and Sarah, Hagar, Jacob, Moses, the tribes of Israel, Naomi and Ruth, David, many of the prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul and many others travelled wilderness roads in their lives. They met head on with:

Solitude and silence

Some widows have church and friends who don't realize she faces many of the same challenges. They just think she's just sad, or "stuck." They urge her to get over it and to move on. They don't understand the bigger picture of wilderness travel.

But just like the wanderers in the Bible discovered, the wilderness means more for the widow too.

Abraham and Sarah met God and angels
Hagar was rescued by God
Jacob wrestled with God and was given a new name
Moses spoke with God
Israel saw miracle after miracle
Naomi and Ruth were led to their redeemer
David was victorious
The prophets were given messages from God
John the Baptist prepared his nation to meet their Savior
Jesus was tempted and victorious
Paul was educated even more, and filled with the Holy Spirit

The wilderness is a hard place, no one can disagree. No one enjoys the wilderness, but encountering God? Isn't that priceless?

Widows, we have paid too high a price for this wilderness journey. We didn't ask for it, but neither have we asked for or anticipated the treasured encounters that can be ours!

Go back over the words highlighted in blue. Which ones will you watch for as you journey through this wilderness today?

"Your faith is being tested, but your future is magnificent!" (noted in I Peter 1, J.B Phillips Translation)

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's Coming: Father's Day for the Fatherless

Honestly? I wish there was no Father's Day. Or Mother's Day. They've turned into commercially exploited obligations in my jaded opinion.

But, here in America, these holidays come like a train at a railroad crossing. We'd better be alert! Don't let Father's Day hit you like a train. We need to prepare. Here are some general ideas for coping. Don't try to do them all---just pick one to adapt to your own situation. Tomorrow you'll hear from some experienced widows about how they handle it.
  • Try to relax. You're going to be glad when it's over, but it might not be as bad as you think. Often, the anticipation is worse than the actual event. You're not alone. This is a tough day for a lot of people. 
  • Prepare. I hate to say this--(if you knew me you'd know I'm a big supporter of going to church even when it hurts)--but this might be a good day to skip church or Sunday School. Especially if you have little kids who will be making "I Love You Daddy" pictures in Sunday School. Remember? They do that every year, don't they? Think ahead and plan ahead.
  • Do SOMETHING. If family traditions will be comfortable for you, go ahead and plan on them. But if you need something different, maybe Sunday, June 16 would be a good day for it. If you've been planning to go to a theme park sometime this summer, maybe this would be a good time to go. Look for something to do that eats up a lot of hours. The goal for this day is to get it over with!
  • It's OK to acknowledge the day--don't be silent and feel guilty like its the elephant in the living room that no one will talk about. But you don't have to go overboard. Start the day with a quick prayer to thank God that your children had a good father--two sentences at the most. That's plenty! You don't have to talk about it or think about it all day long.
  • Fill up on gratitude for your experiences of love, marriage, and parenting -- those good things are not the norm for many people now days. Appreciate your life story and the good experiences and blessings you've had. More will come, I promise!
  • Give your kids "A Hug From Above." Hug them and say something like, "Today is Father's Day and here's a hug from above: your dad loved you so much!" Tell yourself that, too: "He still loves me and I'm grateful for the time I had with him."
  • Give in to the little cloudbursts. If you feel a cry coming on, let yourself cry. Crying is a physical release of stress. It might not last more than five minutes. Deep breathing helps, too. Then --(I'm saying this kindly)-- put your big girl pants on and help your kids by focusing on them and how glad you are they are still around.
  • Accept grace. God showers it in unexpected moments. Watch for it
  • Be flexible. Roll with the waves of grief. Don't build up your negative expectations too much--it's not going to be the worst day of your life. (You've already had that one!)
  • If you've been invited somewhere, carefully decide if you're comfortable with the arrangements. Graciously decline, or offer an alternative if it'll be too much for you. Realize though, that the invitation is offered with love, and you might have a much better time with a group of people than with being alone.  
How do you feel about Father's Day? Do you have some ideas that have worked for you? I love to hear what you've discovered, and I'm sure your comments with be a tremendous help and encouragement to others. Please be sure to leave a comment and check back tomorrow to hear from other widows.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Widows & Church -- Not Always An Easy Fit

How do widows really feel about keeping up their faithful church attendance after the funeral? Are they confident of fitting in and feeling welcomed and comforted? Of both giving and receiving grace and ministry?

Here are the viewpoints and experiences of several different widows. I have a feeling that there are many stories to tell, both inspiring and heartbreaking. Do you fit in any of these categories?  Or should we add another category for your experience? I'd love to give you a voice today, so please add your comment or email me. Summing up these experiences could really help churches know what widows need and the best ways they could help.

Church = Loneliness
"I'm far from alone at church, but it's where I feel lonely more than anywhere else. I miss walking into the building as a family of five, having help dropping off and picking up the boys in their Sunday School rooms, sitting next to someone during the service and talking about the message on the way home. I even miss being a passenger in our truck! I may look and sound okay, but my heart is still hurting."

Church = Support & Happiness
"Church became the place I couldn't get enough of. I began spending more time in the church building even when no service was going on.  It has been my church family that I go to when the struggles become overwhelming, or when I need to share a joy in my life. God had a purpose for bringing my late husband and I there, and I'm very glad I weathered the misery to find true happiness in the Lord there!"

Church = Anger
Church was the absolute worst and most painful place for me. First it was about the only place my late husband and I went together with our young children. So there was that constant reminder. But I think another reason it was so painful for me, is because in those months after he passed away, I became invisible. People were nice enough on Sunday mornings, asking "How ARE you?" all sincere-like, and then not wait for my reply. "Call me if you need anything!" as they rush off. Once the casserole dishes were all picked up (and I was grateful for them), the silence of the church, my house, and God was deafening. If God didn't care about me, why should I care about Him?

Church = Stability & Comfort
"My attendance hasn't changed... my late husband wasn't really a church-goer, more the C & E variety. I actually like going to church alone. We have a very worship-oriented contemporary service, and when we're singing, I sometimes feel like it's just God and me, and it is so comforting. I get very centered, and when the service is over, I need to "wake up", not from being sleepy, but from my worship-space.

Has your church attendance changed or stayed the same since your husband died? Comment and tell about the difference, or please tell why it hasn't changed.

Monday, May 27, 2013


    There's a worship song that plays to my heart this Memorial Day. It's main phrase is "Remember your people, remember your promise . . . Your grace is enough . . ." After all, this day isn't meant just for picnics and gardening, it's a day to remember our loved ones and the struggles God has brought us through as a nation. God uses memorials to reinforce these lessons of grace to me.
     His words are precious light and life. They give me strength, carry me when I'm not moving, and make me thankful that God is Who He is: He's in control, He's love, He's goodness, He's mercy.

     I like saying that in a drawn out way: He IS in control . . . He is LOVE . . . HE is goodness, He IS mercy. And He is so much more, like Truth, and Life and Power . . . Each word is true, each emphasis is true no matter where I place the emphasis.
     These words give me a fresh perspective. In years past I've shed some tears at the cemetery during this weekend. Today, I might shed some because I cannot go to the cemetary, it's over 600 miles away. But God's grace is more than enough. And when we sing songs of asking Him to remember, we remember he never forgets.
     He remembers you, too. He's in control of your life, He loves you, He has mercy and goodness in His plan for you. His grace is enough. I pray God will work these truths into your heart today.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Psalm for "Flowers" Like Me, Like You ...

Are you familiar with this psalm? I've often wondered about it, especially verse 15. When I think about the flowers of the field I know that they each bloom and die at different times. Some bloom all summer long, others blossom for only a few days. When I consider that, understanding and accepting it as the divine order for all of life---even my husband's, even my own---from everlasting to everlasting---I stand amazed at the rest of this psalm. What are your thoughts?
Psalm 103:13-18
New International Version (NIV)
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
Take Pictures of Arizona Wildflowers - How to Photograph Desert

Monday, May 13, 2013


Have you asked yourself any of these questions-----When will the pain go away? When will life return to normal? When will I no longer feel like I'm so alone in the world?

The good news: Grief will not last forever.
You will laugh again. You'll find new balance and purpose. The initial raw pain and crying spells will ebb. You'll go from crying A LOT, to crying several times a day, to several times a week. Then several times a month, to every couple months and less as life picks up and you're involved again.
Time becomes more liquid, though, and sometimes you'll experience the memories and grief as if you're still in the moment. I think that's OK. It means you're human; you're created in the image of God who is not bound by time. God transcends time and when we experience memories as vividly as if we're still there, it's because we're created in the image of God who never forgets anything but forgiven sin.
So lean into the memories, lean into the grief. Don't be afraid, this won't hurt so badly forever.

The bad news: Grieving takes longer than we want.
In our push-button/instant gratification culture we hate to wait! We want quick relief! Grief doesn't work like that. Ancient Israel allowed 40 days for mourning--at the most we're allowed a week or two off work or school. And there are social expectations. People in Bible times wore sackcloth and ashes. They wailed and mourned out loud in public. Today's widows look pretty good, they're complimented on "how strong" they are; they're shushed away; patronized to numb any pain with medications and pleasure because they "deserve to be happy." People! Listen! Can we let her just be sad for a bit?
It's impossible to put a time frame on grief. Everyone's situation is so different; widows' range from teens to elderly, deaths occur instantly or with long anticipation, loss may be contained or it may avalanche with multiple losses. Some widows only need six weeks, most need at least six months, some will need six years. But we all only want about six minutes!
Widowhood is the hardest challenge and test many women will ever face. Ask for professional help if you think it's taking too long, if you feel "stuck," if you're falling into depression. It takes time, but making the effort to take the time to work through it will reap a rewarding and richly satisfying future.

More good news: Widows who take an active role in their grief can resolve it earlier than those who don't.
Facing into the storm of your suffering, intentionally working through it, and gleaning all the wisdom you can will help bring about your desired acceptance and closure.
In my opinion, when widowed, allow yourself to concentrate on the first year and all "the firsts" it will bring your way. Don't complicate it by adding a boyfriend. Don't move or change jobs unless it's absolutely necessary. Use the time to become a student of yourself and your own grief. Attend grief seminars and support groups. Read!
Talk! Find a widow who can be your walking partner, prayer partner or mentor. Carefully check out widows groups on the Internet, start a blog about your experience. Tell your story. (Stay safe, though. Tread carefully and protect your privacy. Evil people who prey on widows really do exist).
Next, allow yourself to ease into the second year with the realization that it will be very different from the first year. Note your discoveries, establish a foundation of wisdom and gratitude, develop an understanding of your new and special relationship with God.
Then, if you feel like you're done grieving, you're done! Of course there will occasionally be days that knock the wind out of you, but that's life--and love. Cry it out, cling to the Lord, and count on Him to carry you through. Joy will come in the morning, and--- through the mourning.

Where are you in your grief journey? Are you just starting out, do you see some twists and turns ahead, or are you sliding into home? ferree

Monday, May 6, 2013

Help for Dealing With Mothers Day

Mothers Day can be difficult to handle if we dwell on what we don't have. But I hope the following will provide a life-affirming alternative!

The Psalms, as you know, is a book of songs and prayers. When we're weary and sad, when grief weighs down our mind, a psalm steps in and speaks to God on our behalf. Open the book of Psalms to almost anywhere and find laments for the bad days, or praises for the days we understand.

But have you ever wondered what God might say to you, personally, in the Psalms? I recently took a look at Psalm 139, one of my favorites. The phrases familiar, the heart cries always genuine and fitting, its rich truth has nourishes and sustains me like a long-time friend.

I've spoken this psalm to God many times. But what would it be like if God replied, I wondered?

The words that follow are my paraphrase of the Lord's response to my personal Psalm 139.
I hope you'll feel the voice of the Lord saying them to you,too. And I hope they'll help carry you through Mothers Day and every day.

Dear child,
I have searched you; I know everything about you.
I know when you sit and when you rise;
I perceive your thoughts even when you're far away from Me.
I understand your going out and your need to lie down;
I'm familiar with all your ways and habits.
I even know the words you'll speak before they come out of your mouth.
I have hemmed you in--behind you and in front of you.
My hand is on your shoulder, but you don't always know this.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for you, and too lofty for any human mind to attain.
I am always with you. Where could you go from My Spirit?
Where could you flee from My presence?

If you ascend to the stars of the heavens, I am there;
if you descend to the deepest pits of the earth--if you make your bed in the depths--I am there.
If you rise on the wings of the dawn, flying away to settle on the far side of the sea,
even there My hand will guide you. My right hand will hold you fast and secure.
If you say, “Surely this darkness will hide me from God's sight, for my loss and despair snuff out the light of day; light has turned to night around me--!"
Even that dark night of the soul will not be dark to Me;
The night shines bright like the day---I see you clearly, My child.
Darkness is as light to Me. I see, I care, I love.
For I created your inmost being; I knit you together in your mother’s womb. You are fearfully and wonderfully made; I'm fully confident of your quality; My works are wonderful---and you are one of them---I know that full well.
I saw your frame at the very inception of your life. I wove together your DNA molecules as they formed your body in the pre-born soft darkness deep inside your mother.
I have ordained each and every one of your days. I've written them in My book about you. I wrote them all out before you ever existed. I know your whole story. I see beyond today's pain-filled page to the chapters of hope and happiness that await. Your husband is safe and secure in My arms. He knows, too, that it will be worth it all when you turn the page and see how I've worked all these things together for your good.
Yet there's the emptiness, the anger, the mistrust, the fear you've been betrayed . . . I know. I let my Son go through that, too. And then He was raised to life! Only believe. Be still. Watch and wait.
Aren't these thoughts of My watchcare, interest and love for you precious and vast?
If we were to add them up they would light your dark grief like the the sparkling points of a city at night. To count them would be like trying to number the grains of sand on the seashore.
Sleep well, my beloved one.
When you awake . . .

I am still with you.

Monday, April 29, 2013

When We Ask A Thousand Whys

Hello everyone!
I was gone all last week visiting two of my kids. It was so good to be able to devote time to them and know that you'd understand. I have bills and laundry to catch up on today, and even better--new friends on Facebook to connect with and add to Lifeboat tomorrow, but I wanted to share the following poem with you.
It expresses some questions, struggles, and anger. It's very honest, and God wants our honest cries. They're okay. We can't hide anything from Him anyway, can we?
I love how this poem shows that in spite of the struggles there is a new, yet ancient, melody of hope that brings our whole story together. I pray that hope sings in your heart today.

A Thousand Whys

I look into the Father’s eyes
And wrestle with a thousand whys
Why this? Why now? Why him, not I?
The hurt, the rage, unbridled pain
Erupting from my soul, again.
If that’s the way it’s going to be
Then build Your Kingdom without me.

But then, again, where could I go
To hear a word of hope, and know
The promise that beyond the pain
The ballad has a glad refrain?
But what for now? And how can one
Still vocalize “Thy will be done”?

And soon I hear a song begin,
Celestial, but from deep within,
A new yet ancient melody
Of joy and pain, disharmony.
Or do the strains combine somehow,
A lovely paradox of sound?

Copyright, David B. Biebel

from the book "Finding Your Way after the Suicide of Someone You Love. Please also see for more of Dr. Biebel's books

Monday, April 15, 2013

What Are Phases of The Grief Process?

If you've read a bit about grief you've probably noticed key words like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. For a quick summary of this notion, I've found a video clip that briefly outlines the journey and answers this question: I have heard that grief is a process. If that is true, then what are the phases of the process and will I ever be done with the grieving process?
You'll have to click on this link but it will be well worth the travel. You'll find a six-minute video featuring Dr. Henry Cloud with a good summation of the grief process. Christian psychologists Cloud and Townsend address many other issues on this website, so please explore. You might find a lot to interest and help you.
View this video. And then delve into this storm--become a student of your own grief. Learn about the process, recognize the phases or feelings of this letting go and surrendering experience.
Dr. Cloud talks about surrounding yourself with support structures and people who can hold you up. As he says, grieving is meant to be within community. That's the purpose of this blog--to support,  reinforce and hold you; its one of a variety of places from which you'll find handholds for this journey. Also find friends, a church family, a grief support group and a few good books. Like Cloud says, find a time, a place and people to grieve with who will provide relationship and support. And then, lean on them all and grieve, my friend.
That's why I'm here. I know the isolation, the unspoken needs, the unexpected pain. God has brought me through, but I remember how it was. So now I provide three venues of help to widows---the kind of help that I would have wanted.
  1. This blog, Widows Christian Place, with daily encouragement to know you're not alone. Click Follow by Email on the sidebar if you'd like to receive this by email rather than having to visit each day.
  2. My book, Postcards from the Widows' Path which walks you through the widowhood of Naomi and Ruth, an older widow and a younger widow in the Bible, and helps you experience the amazing intent of the heart of God toward widows.
  3. Lifeboat support groups for widows on Facebook, providing a life-saving community like Dr. Cloud mentions.
Whether you find helpful information, role models, or one-on-one correspondance, feel free to take what you need from Widows Christian Place. May the Lord fill you and make you whole again.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Grieving: Should You See A Counselor?

Do you ever wonder if you should see a counselor? You're not alone, and a Christian ministry, Focus On The Family, provides some good options for you.

First, for general information on grief, they feature five articles:
1.Coping With Death and Grief
2.Understanding the Grieving Process
3.Grief, Trauma or Depression?
4.Helping Loved Ones Grieve
5.Next Steps / Related Information

Second, Focus On The Family offers a one-time, complimentary consultation! The contact information is here, and this page also has a valuable list of questions to help you determine if it's time to get a counselor's perspective.

If you decide to seek counselling, use the search for referrals to licensed Christian counselors who might be in your area. Also ask your pastor, grief support group, your physician and friends for referrals. Then visit and consult with more than one to find the best person for you to work with. Ask about their fees and if your insurance will apply. Ask about their credentials and doctrinal statement or church affiliation. Just because they're Christian doesn't mean they're the right one for you. Be selective, and don't give up!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Torn In Two

Once when I gave my library talk about turning GOing through grief to GROWing through grief to a very nice church group, one of the women began telling me about how she lost her husband of many years. It had been quite a while back--in fact, she's now in her 80's now--but she said she'll never forget that it felt like she'd been cut in half.
"Oh my goodness!" I said. "That's exactly how I felt!"
I wonder, are she and I the only ones with that picture? Did you feel cut in half, too? Or was it a different picture for you? I had a distinct picture of myself cut in half by a high speed train that sliced through my life, and there I lay, so shocked.
Would you describe that initial shock of losing your husband as being cut in half? I wonder if that's why the term "healing" is used so much in grief recovery? I also recall a friend telling me that when she divorced her husband, she had that 'cut in half' feeling, too, even though she wanted the divorce.

I have a hunch that this severed feeling has to do with how God designed the marriage bond in the first place. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (King James Version) If a husband and wife become one, and one of them is subtracted . . . well . . . just do the math . . . Yet we are not without hope. God sees. He knows our situation. He has not abandoned us. In His perfect timing, just like the broken and crippled people Jesus touched, we will walk again.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

God's Mysterious Ways

The poem below is a favorite that I go to when things happen which I don't understand. Sometimes I'll include it in a sympathy card. It seems appropriate for today, so I hope it'll become one of your favorites, too.
As you consider it, why not add a comment about which lines caught your attention today.
by: William Cowper (1731-1800)
GOD moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sov'reign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Low Spots in Grief

Dear Reader,
A valley is a low spot in the land, and we often liken the sad times in our lives to valleys. Psalm 23:4 refers to the “valley of the shadow of death,” and that certainly pictures a dark, narrow pathway walled in by steep cliffs. In the news headlines we hear of valleys filled with springtime floods and mudslides. Sometimes as a widow, I wondered if my walk through the valley would ever end.

But I learned valleys are filled with far more than shadows and danger from floods. They provide rich, fertile soil for growing, level ground for building, a sheltered climate, unique ecosystems, and breathtaking views of the mountains. Some valleys wind their way between insurmountable mountains and give us passage.
Likewise, there are good features about valleys of the soul. Meaning, empathy and compassion sprout in the deep furrows of grief. Fresh insights into the sufferings of Christ spring up, as well as more appreciation for the little gifts of life—sunshine coming out from behind a cloud, the song of a bird after a rainstorm, or a valiant dandelion blooming out from a crack in a sidewalk. We understand those things now: times, seasons and tenacity. Memories in the valley teach us the importance of kindness and patience. A daily routine becomes a comforting commodity.

If you are in a valley of grief I hope your heart will accept the new time of growth, the insights and precious perspectives you can gain. Remember, a valley can be the best, sometimes the only, way to get around a mountain. You won’t be in it forever, dear one. In spite of the hardships, many good things can happen in a valley.

Monday, March 4, 2013

How Can You Go On?

Life is hard. It's complicated. It hurts!

And when the sucker punch of death is thrown in--well, that just about finishes us off, doesn't it? It's not enough that our loved one had cancer, the accident, the heart attack, or the aneurysm. Not enough to suffer all that; now he's gone, too.

Who knew a body could cry so much? How can we go on when it feels like we've been cut in half?

The Bible echoes our thoughts: "When I tried to understand all this it was oppressive to me . . ."

It's overwhelming! It's like we've fallen into a hole and there's no way out.

But the rest of the verse offers a key to the solution: ". . . until I entered the the sanctuary of God." (Psalm 73:16, 17 NIV ©1984)

Ahhh . . . a sanctuary--a place of protection, safety, peace and rest. A sanctuary of God is a place inhabited by God--the Almighty Creator, our Savior, Friend, and Comforter the Holy Spirit.

Would you like to enter into God's sanctuary, that place where the soul knows satisfaction and contentment even in the midst of sorrow?

Jesus knew where you could find God's sanctuary, and he said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." He is the essential. On our own, we wander and get lost if we don't know the way; we make mistake after mistake if we don't know the truth; and we are spiritually numb without the life he speaks of. You can read the conversation about the life Jesus has planned for you in John 14 and the chapters that follow it.

This classic painting of Jesus knocking at the door of your heart has hung in multitudes of churches and Sunday Schools for decades and decades. Do you know what's so special about it? Look closely. There's some pretty scrollwork, but there's no handle on the outside of the door. It must be opened from the inside-- by you.

Have you opened that door in your life to Christ? Did you know you can invite Christ to enter into your pain? He was called "The Man of Sorrows." He knows our deepest feelings. Most importantly, He has the power to shoulder our greatest needs. But he never elbows His way into a life, He only waits, perhaps he knocks on the door. Funny thing, though. After we open that door and choose Him, we find out He chose us. He chose me! He chose you! That thought alone is a sanctuary.

He chose you, He knows you, He loves you.

Do you have questions about finding the presence of Christ's sanctuary, peace and salvation in your life? Why not contact me and we can talk about it. [email protected]

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Do You Wonder About Heaven?

Do you know there's a lovely phrase for death used throughout the Bible?

". . . he was gathered to his people . . ."

Abraham (Gen. 25:8), Isaac (Gen 35:29), Jacob (Gen. 49:29), Aaron ( Nu. 20:24), Moses (Nu. 31:2), a whole generation of Israel (Jg. 2:10), and Josiah (2 Ch. 34:28) were gathered to their people.
In our day, a man named Don Piper experienced being "gathered to his people" when he was pronounced dead at the scene of a car accident. In his book, "90 Minutes In Heaven," Mr. Piper described being greeted by a crowd of loving family and friends in a place of beautiful music, peace and brightness. The medical team that had checked his vital signs and found no pulse, heartbeat or breath were shocked when a pastor who was praying over Mr. Piper exclaimed that Mr. Piper was singing!

Have you wondered how your husband was gathered to his people? Who he has met in Heaven?

My first husband, Bruce, died unexpectedly. But in the months before he died he talked about Heaven and how he longed for it. He even planned who he wanted to meet! As a pastor, he wanted to trace his spiritual geneology all the way back to the men and women who followed Christ 2000 years ago! Who else but a pastor would think of that?

I'll bet he's still busy looking up all those folks.

I've also toyed with the idea that he's on some sort of heavenly welcome committee (although I'm sure there are NO committees in heaven! That'd make it hell, wouldn't it? LOL)
When I was grieving, though, it was sort of comforting to imagine him greeting and caring for people arrived in heaven--my daughter's miscarriages, my brother and his wife's stillborn baby, some friends, and my husband Tom's first wife, Marilyn. I'll bet Marilyn and Bruce have had some good laughs watching Tom and I . . .

And I've wondered who greeted Bruce when he arrived in heaven. Surely Grandma Bowman was excited to see him. She was a "Praise the Lord!" pistol of a person. But, oh, how she loved the Lord!-- all done up with her hair in a bun, no make-up and the strictest of clothing!  Also my cousin's grandma, Grandma Broschka, who prayed every day for all of us "at Moody's" (Moody Bible Institute in Chicago). Plus many more . . .

What do you think about Heaven and the people there? Click on the comment line below or e-mail me at [email protected] to share your thoughts. ferree

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24 (English Standard Version)

Monday, February 18, 2013

God Sets Our Days

      In the summer before Bruce died, on calm, warm evenings we'd walk every now and then down Riverside Drive, the street our house was cornered on. I was burned out and was quitting my job at the insurance agency I worked at, so Bruce and I naturally discussed the future and the next step.

     We were not ones given much to impressions or intuitions, but this time we both strongly felt that the next step to take was to get the house ready.

     Neither one of us knew what that meant--get the house ready--but we knew that was the next thing we needed to do.

     I felt a stab of fear at the thought: being married to a pastor, I wondered if we would be called to another church. I loved where we were at: the kids were in good schools, we had recently purchased the house, we loved our church. But there were no offers for a new pastorate; nor was Bruce looking for any. We were settled and content. Get the house ready didn't seem very timely.

     Months later, in January, get the house ready began to take on some meaning. Bruce heard about an interior decorator we could hire for only $20/hour. I met with her and found a color scheme, curtain ideas, wallpapers and paint. I scheduled the decorator to meet with a carpenter at my house on my birthday so they could discuss some projects she suggested.

     And then Bruce died the night before my birthday.
      I hadn't thought to call and cancel the decorator and carpenter, so they showed up to a house of mourning. They must have thought I was nuts when I opened the door, explained what had happened, and asked them to come in to do what they needed to do in spite of everything.
      And that's what they did. They met together in one room, while I cried in another. In the weeks to come, my house was stripped of its old paisly beige wallpaper, ripped bare and scraped like my soul.
As it slowly got put back together---as the walls were smoothed and freshly painted with warm earthtones and windows were framed with tailored curtains and draperies, the transformation was a comfort and encouragement. A metaphor materialized before my very eyes--God was redecorating me, too.
      In II Kings 20:1, the Lord said to King Hezekiah, "Set your house in order . . ." I read those words the other day and have been haunted by how similar they were to get the house ready.
      We didn't ever realize Bruce was about to die, but God did. He told us what we needed to know. No more, no less. Step by step God was leading and showing the way.
      Do you have some redecorating happening in your life today?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Widows & Celibacy

Monday's topic is about learning to dealing with widowhood. The process, the twists and turns, the questions . . . the hope! Today's topic is a tough one--very personal, and not talked about too much. Maybe I'm stepping over the taboo line, but let's try to bring this out in the open.

All of the sudden you're in Camp Celibacy when you didn't volunteer to go. It's not a fun place to be when memories of Valentines Day with your husband, or in-your-face pictures from our sex-saturated culture, or the undeniable physical urges rise up from within to parade through the mind.

Guilty feelings pin us down as we expect the imaginary camp counsellor to come barging through the door at any minute. What can we do with the closet full of desire and adult temptations?

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

Five Ways Out of Sexual Temptation

1. Understand that sex outside of marriage is sin. Our culture laughs at that thought. We used to think hippies were counter-culture; now the sexually pure woman is counter-culture! Understand God's view of sex by understanding what God's Word says so you don't conform to the world's attitude. (Romans 12:2) God invented sex; He thinks its great. God condones the pleasures of sex in marriage but God did not intend the body for sexual immorality. (I Cor. 6:13) Learn what God has to say about Christians taking part in the sexual sins of fornication or adultery.
2. Mourn over your loss of this physical ability. You'd be sad if you went blind or couldn't walk, right? Involuntary celibacy is also a loss. It's okay to grieve its loss, but then press on to the new adventures God has in store for you.
3. Find a female accountability partner--but NOT someone who wants to play "Matchmaker." She should have respect for single women and understand the privileges and challenges of being single. This woman can pray for you and help you walk through dating situations. You should have her cell phone number and permission to call her 24/7. This won't last forever, but she should be willing to be available. If she is single, too, it should be a mutual accountability.
4. Take thoughts captive. (II Cor. 10:5) Run to Jesus in prayer with the temptations you face. Say, "Lord! Look at this!" Such tempting thoughts evaporate under the truth of God's gaze. You'll find they weren't worth the attention for which they clamored when you pray about them.
5. Don't fret. There will be battles, but they will diminish and you will be surprised at how quickly freedom arrives and the struggles get less frequent. If you don't feed the sexual appetite within you it will lie down and rest. It won't die. If you enter into marriage again it will wake up with prime vigor and the joyous freedom of a clear conscience.

This is just a quick snapshot of how God can help us deal with celibacy. Be sure to look into Scripture for yourself and find other resources to help you overcome. We can depend on Him for strength and help today!
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

Monday, February 4, 2013

When The Tears Come

I call it “a grief storm.” You know. There you are standing in the grocery store meat department, looking at the hamburger because you ALWAYS have to buy a pound of hamburger. Then it hits you. You never did like hamburger. You always bought it for HIM. And now he’s gone. That empty chair in the kitchen will always be empty. You don’t ever have to eat hamburger again if you don't want to. You'd eat a truckload of it if that would bring him back!

And there you are, tears streaming down your face as you scramble through your purse looking for a Kleenex in front of the stupid hamburger packages. Of course you don’t have a tissue and now your nose has started to run, too, and then there’s a nudge on your elbow. A meat department employee rips a sheet off the roll of paper towels and hands it to you. “I’m sorry we just can’t keep these prices down, ma’am.”

We live in a world that doesn’t understand tears. Sometimes we don’t understand them ourselves. They just happen, or so it seems. Kelly, who you might know a little bit on the Facebook group “Gathering Place,” shared some things with me about tears that I’d like to share with you.

”God gave us the gift of tears, and if it didn't serve any purpose He would not have given it to us.

There are three types of tears. Basal tears are the ones in our eyes that keep them moist and protected on a daily basis. Irritant tears are the ones that come when it's windy, or when something irritates your eyes, like onions!

Then there are emotional tears, the third type. It is a scientific fact that humans are the only species that shed emotional tears. Emotional tears contain much more, maybe 25% more, than basal or irritant tears of a certain important ingredient: proteins.

The proteins found in emotional tears are hormones that build up to very high levels when the body withstands emotional stress. It we didn't cry or sweat, those hormones would build up to levels that would weaken our immune system and other biological processes.

See? Tears are God’s gift, and we should use that gift as often as necessary. I thank the Lord every day for providing me with so many non-material gifts.

So cry when your heart is aching, because short of allowing your husband to come down and comfort you, tears are God's way of easing you through this life.”


I’m glad Kelly shared this with me. Tears are nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, they’re a healthy release!

She got her information off this college website of student papers:

Kelly says, “You can see by reading the whole article that the writer believes it is an "evolutionary" thing that we have this ability to shed emotional tears, and there is no mention of God whatsoever. But sometimes is it good to know there is scientific fact behind something we believe is from God, because it makes Him even more all-knowing and AWESOME.”

(Flickr photo credit: by Mac(3) )

Monday, January 28, 2013

How Long Does It Take?

How long have you been widowed? Days? Weeks? Months? Years?

At first it seems like you cry non-stop and you never expected it to hurt like this! Like you're flooded. You didn't know you had so many tears. Then you might get a repreive. You only cry a couple times a day. After a week or two, a couple times a week.
Sooner or later--there is no schedule, each goes at her own pace--the crying gets down to a couple times a month . . . a couple times a year . . . These crying jags are like labor pains in reverse. While labor pains start out mild and far apart, grief starts out painful, fast, and intense. The next round of "grief pains" are a few seconds shorter, a little further apart. They still hit, but most of the time each new round is a bit diminished; they are a little weaker. Or perhaps you're a little stronger. Brace yourself for birthdays, holidays and anniversary pains. Like labor pains, you know they'll come. Prepare for the wave. But these, too, will become easier to bear.

If the "Grief pains" have done their job well, like birth contractions, something new has been born. When the tears diminish, don't think it's because they've dried up or you've become numb and indifferent. Tears have watered you like raindrops, and you've grown and transformed into the resilient, fruitful orchard of a woman that God had planned all along.
When we look at an apple, we see a piece of fruit with seeds. When God looks at an apple, He sees an orchard. I heard that the other day. It's true, isn't it? I think God sees an orchard when He looks at widows, too.

You might think He sees just an ordinary woman, but I think He sees the real you--the courage, resiliance, and faith. God also sees the legacy of blessing--the seeds--you'll leave for future generations by the choices you make today. There is a lot more "fruit" to be produced in your life, and many more "trees" to grow which will provide the shade of God's goodness to the world because of you. What sort of plans do you think God has in store for you?

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.
Psalm 17:8 (English Standard Version)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Top Tips for Widows & Sleep (or lack of sleep!)

Almost every widow I know has struggled with sleeping, especially during the first year. It's either too hard to relax and fall asleep, or we wake up too early, or both!

Here are some tips for a good nights sleep:
1) Pay attention to your bedtime routine and what works/doesn't work for you.
  • Is the bedroom itself the culprit? Some widows cannot sleep in the same bed and/or the same room anymore. But sleeping on the living room sofa probably isn't the solution. It's okay to change to a new room, try a different bed. Redecorating your room with new bedding, a different color paint, or new curtains might help too.
  • Maybe the light on the alarm clock is too bright or the house is too quiet without your husband snoring next to you. Use a fan or a sound machine with some "white noise" so it's not so quiet.
  • Or maybe the cat keeps waking you up--before you go to bed make sure she has a food in her dish for the night.
  • There's also your body temperature--do you need a warm bath before bedtime? an electric blanket? or do you like cool sheets?
  • Any one of  these crazy little details could be the problem! Don't feel guilty that you're losing sleep over it. Be nice to yourself and try a change for the better.
‎2) As soon as you lay your head on the pillow does your mind start a movie reel of the day? If you're not alseep in 15 minutes, turn the light back on and try these tips:
  • Grab the Bible on your nightstand and start reading or memorizing verses.
  • Pray out loud about everything you can possibly think of.
  • If you're worried about taxes or meeting with the lawyer, go ahead and work on the papers.
  • Or try Soduku or a crossword puzzle. The mental concentration can distract you from worries that keep you awake.
3) Be mindful of what you've eaten.
  • That hot cup of coffee and melty chocolate dessert after dinner will not help you get a good nights sleep. Steer clear of caffiene and sugars.
  • Eat a banana or a turkey sandwich; drink a small glass of milk or a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed--a little food in your tummy can help, but these particular foods really help! 
4) Have you always had trouble sleeping, or is this definitely your body's response to the stress and trauma. A lot of times its just life in general.
  • Make sure you get enough physical exercise during the day --this will help with everything
  • DO NOT NAP DURING THE DAY OR SLEEP IN! That really messes up your body clock.
  • Pick a good time to go to bed and do it.
  • Get up at the same time every morning whether you slept or not.
6) If after a few weeks or months of trying these tips--- sooner if you feel your sleep deprivation is a danger to society or a hindrance to your job--- talk to your doctor and take a non-addictive prescription sleep aid. It might be just the thing to give a kick start to your sleeping routine and you won't need to use it very long. Don't use over-the-counter sleeping pills.

7) Don't worry about it. We're all different. I get about 6 hours of sleep a night, often less. After years of lying awake worrying that I wasn't getting "the recommended" 8 hours, I just wing it. Sleep is highly over-rated for some of us!

What tips would you add for getting a good night's sleep?