Showing posts with label Rolemodels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rolemodels. Show all posts

Friday, November 14, 2014

Three Essentials for Your Journey Through Grief

(---continued from yesterday)

I wish someone would have told me what to pack for this detour!

But I did have a good start because I knew I had a RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST, first and foremost. The word "widow" wasn’t my total identity. Sure I was a widow, but I was also a child of God. This didn’t mean life would be easy, but Jesus had said, “Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted,” and I took that as a promise.
I knew God was sovereign and in control. I was safe and secure because this was not a surprise for God. He’s numbered our days---all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Both Bruce’s days and my own —Ps. 139:16
I had RESOURCES available. I didn’t know how to get online back then, and if I had, there just wasn’t much out there for widows. But I had role models flit in and out of my life---in fact I heard from one the very first day. Nancy, a young widow from one of our former churches 200 miles away was the first one to phone me that day. (Isn’t is amazing how the church grapevine works?) Nancy and I used to car-pool our kids together for school, and Bruce and I attended her husband’s funeral.  “You can do this,” she said. And that’s what I needed to hear, and she’s the one I needed to hear it from.
Miriam Neff says, “No one can understand a widow like another widow.” How true! God sent me many other role models. Some were in books I read, one was from my family tree, and some of them were negative models too---I didn’t want to turn out like them! But see? Nancy was calling out to me about what was ahead on this obstacle course called widowhood.
Finally, I found out the hard way that widows need a bag full of REST. On some days you just have to shut down and practice the fine art of doing nothing.  Grief is exhausting, most widows feel like they’ve been cut in half—it’s traumatic! And it takes a while to get back on your feet. That's why every Saturday I harp about Rest, Rest, Rest. It’s essential and you’ve got to allow for it. Trying to power through grief is not going to get you through it any faster. It is what it is and will take as long as it takes. 

So be certain of your Relationship with Jesus Christ---have you placed your faith in Him? Do you know you're a child of God, saved by His death on the cross and not your own baptism, communion or good works? Email me today if you're not sure. [email protected]
Use your Resources---watch for role models, read about grief and widowhood, and find support people.
Finally, be sure to REST in the Lord… Don’t compare your life to anyone else's, things have changed and the adjustments are huge and draining so rest---physical, emotional and spiritual---is needed. Contrary to some who say “You will grieve forever”---the good news is that the grieving doesn’t have to last forever if you pack your bag with these things.
Check back here tomorrow because I have a wonderful music video that will provide some Rest for you. And then on Monday we'll hit the trail. It starts out pretty rough so watch your step, but you'll be able to see how far you've already come. ferree

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Fantastic DVD for Widows Can Be Yours!

I hope you're already familiar with my friend, Miriam Neff, author of two books I highly recommend for widows: From One Widow to Another and Where Do I Go From Here?

Miriam was widowed after 41 years of marriage to her Bob, a vice president for Moody Broadcasting. I can't begin to tell you of her many hats and life adventures! But to give you just a little glimpse let me say that as founder of Widow Connection she's helped start widows groups in the Chicago area, and travelled to a variety of countries to help widows. She hosts a radio spot called New Beginnings and is often a featured guest on Midday Connection and Chris Fabry Live radio shows.

And now, Miriam has let me in on an offer too good to pass up! Wouldn't you love to have a DVD series produced by widows/for widows? You could view it yourself, pass it along to another widow, or share with your church to multiply the benefits.

Miriam's One Widow To Another--The Connection That Counts DVD series contains five sessions and covers the following:

Leaders Guide: How to lead and facilitate a group. How widows can help each other. How churches can help widows become all God wants us to be.
Session 1: The Connection That Counts---How we grow stronger and then help others

Session 2: Emotions and Finding the Help We Need---Creating your Board of Directors
Session 3: Money---You can master your finances

Session 4: Relationships---Friends change. Family trees shake.
Session 5: Moving Forward---Your new beginning may be better than you can imagine

This set of DVD's, originally a remarkable value for $60.00, can be yours absolutely free. You don't even have to pay for shipping! Quantities are limited, and Miriam hopes all my readers will be able to get theirs, so hurry to order today.

Sorry, the offer is now closed, but thank you to all who ordered! Your dvd's should arrive in the next two or three weeks.

Once you receive your DVD, please don't let it collect dust, but pass it along to another widow looking for practical help and hope. Freely you received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8b)

I know you will love this! Thank you Miriam! And thank you God, for leading Miriam on this adventurous life of serving Your beloved widows!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Widow's Story: Carrie Jo Kistler Shride, Part 2

Welcome back everyone! Yesterday we met Carrie and found out the challenges and fear she faced when life changed forever in an instant when her husband was killed in a car accident only three miles from home. Carrie was 36 at the time, with three daughters ages ages 2, 5, and 10, and one of them with special needs. Carrie spoke of some ways she began to grow through her grief, and today we'll continue that conversation.

Carrie, what other keys helped you along the way?

I had several books given to me after Mike's death, of course. But I only read a handful. I love to read, but would find myself becoming even sadder and getting wrapped up in the "problem" of the book and not letting it relate to myself.
Lifeboat was something that helped me out so very much. It was awesome to be able to be raw and real with one another. I had an outpouring of supportive friends and family, but no one but my Lifeboat girls understood exactly what I was going through. I attended a grief group at church about a year after Mike died. I enjoyed the connection there, as well.

If you were to ask me the morning Mike died, how my relationship with Christ was, I would have told you “Good.” Now, I can say, “Great!” It's truly amazing! When I would surrender more and more to Him, that would open me up for more and more of His healing. It's all about being completely real with Him. He knew my feelings, anyway, right? I had to admit them to Him and ask for His healing to be upon me.
I had three little girls to raise, and although I cried, I didn't want them to see a mommy who couldn't function, or to think that life had ended for us too. We knew where Daddy was and that we would see him again, but we had to continue on here on earth without him. We persevered together, praying together every day and night, and as we allowed God to move, He did and continues to do so.

What Scriptures became most comforting to you?
Philippians 4:13 and Jeremiah 29:11 are favorite verses that I have really clung to on a daily basis through this journey. Occassionally, I'd add another one, but these two are my promises from the Lord. Romans 8:28 was a lifesaver, too!

What's the most surprising thing about widowhood you've discovered?
The most surprising thing was learning that...I COULD DO IT! The day Mike died, I thought, “How on earth will I survive without him and raising these three girls without their daddy?” But, with God as my husband...WE DID IT!

What advice do you have for widows in general, or especially for new widows?
My best advice for anyone in the early raw stages of pain and loss is to seek the Lord just as often as you need to throughout the day and night. I would go into the bathroom, just to get away and pour my heart out to Him. (The bathroom was the only room in the house with a lock, and with 3 little ones...a mom has to do what a mom has to do!)

No matter what it was, I tried to be as honest as I could. The healing can only come when we are laying our hurt out and asking for healing. I knew my God was big--- and trust me--- He has healed my fears, sadness, anger, and the list goes on and on...
Have opportunities to serve your church or the Lord come along?

God has done some amazing things for me to glorify Him. I was able to lead a Grief Share group at my church. We have since moved, but I would love to do that again. If He opens that door, I will be glad to follow.
I've also spoken at two different conferences for women this past year and loved every minute of sharing how this whole story truly is God's and how He does heal. I am looking for God to move again because this fall, my baby will be in Kindergarten and I will have some "extra" time.

In five years from now, if anything were possible, what would you like to be doing?
Carrie & Kevin on their wedding day
with Kevin's daughter and
Carrie's three daughters.
In five years from now, I would love to be continuing to glorify God through this loss. I remarried this past October to a wonderful, holy man who adores the girls and me more than I could have ever prayed for. In fact, I wrote out a prayer asking the Lord to bring a man into our lives as a husband and a daddy, leading our family. I didn't want my girls to not have that relationship for the rest of their lives--they had loved having a daddy so much. God brought us Kevin and it was very obvious that he is just who God hand-picked for us!

Carrie, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It's been a real joy to see what God has brought you through, how you latched onto His promises and chose to believe them, and God's blessing on you. I'm sure I speak for us all when I wish you and Kevin God's very best and abundant blessings!

An historic event occurred on Monday, and Kevin received three more reasons to be blessed for Father's Day! Visit Carrie's blog, Finding JOY on our JOurneY and you'll be over-JOYed about 'the rest of the story.'   ferree

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Widow's Story: Carrie Jo Kistler Shride, part 1

Ferree: Hi Everyone! Today I want to introduce you to Carrie Jo Kistler Shride, a widow I met online shortly after her husband died three years ago. I approached her with this idea a few months ago, but shortly afterwards her grandpa passed away and she was managing his estate and house, plus her three girls, a new husband and stepdaughter! So she’s had a busy few months and I’m so glad she’s been gracious (and efficient!) enough to share her story with me.  

Carrie: Hi Ferree, I am finally answering your message from so long ago. Life has been very active and I haven't felt that I could take the time and put the words down correctly and God-led until now. Thanks again for the opportunity to reach out to those who have become a widow. It was a journey I never expected, but I have learned and grasped every bit of it walking with the Lord, step by step.
It’s been just over 3 years since Mike died in a car accident. He fell asleep coming home from work after working third shift, about 3 miles from home. I was widowed at the age of 36 and had three daughters, ages 10, 5, and 2 to raise.
Mike & Carrie and their daughters several years ago
How did you react at first, Carrie? What was that first year like?

The time has gone fast for the most part, looking back. But I remember how many, many days would drag on with being the only parent. I felt as if all I did all day long was discipline. I became more and more lonely as a woman craving to be loved by her husband. I missed him so very much. I look back now and have NO idea how I did it...Phil 4:13.
Where there certain things you found especially difficult?

There were several "harder" parts for me as a widow. Our oldest daughter is handicapped, so the physical strain I had to take on daily was tremendous. Mike and I were such a great team and he was such a hands-on daddy. I took all of that for granted, until he was gone.
Probably the very hardest part for me becoming a widow was the FEAR! I have always been a "scared of your own shadow" type, but staying alone at night with the girls was so out of my comfort zone. My grandma (her and my grandpa raised me) stayed with us a lot, as well as my aunt. I always feared something would happen to our daughters during the night and I would be alone.

How did you begin to grow through your grief?  
I had thought Mike was my rock during all of our years together, but I soon learned and figured out that Jesus was my Rock!!! Letting go of the fear of being alone was the one most healing things that changed my life. I know I can do anything, now!

I want others to learn from me that no matter the situation we find ourselves in during widowhood, God is there for it ALL! For finances, loneliness, raising your kids, any decision making... Seek Him and He will show you the way. I had to rely on Him through all of these things. Mike wasn't there but I loved growing deeper and deeper with Jesus through it all.
In fact, a friend of mine said awhile after Mike's death, "If your husband would have known how much deeper your relationship would grow with Christ because of him dying, he would have died for you a long time ago." At first, it took me back, and then I thought, “Yes, you are right. That's the kind of husband I had.”

Mike must have been an awesome man! That’s an amazing thing your friend said! I'm looking forward to continuing this tomorrow because your story can bring hope in the Lord for other young widows. We'll talk about some of the other keys that helped you along the way and discoveries you'd like to share.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Widow's Father's Day To-Do List

Rebuilding a life . . . my blogger friend Wendy, from Us Without You and Chicagoland Young Widowed Connection, describes it so well. ferree

photo by Wendy Diez, used by permission
*Wake up--feel sorry for self and children.

*Acknowledge the conflicting feelings that will come with today.

*Decide not to go to church for the 4th year in row. The Father’s Day blessing is still too painful.

*Play with new puppy and puppy-crazed children. Imagine Chris doing the same.

*While reading Father’s Day updates on Facebook, take stock of the fact that feelings of bitterness and resentfulness have lessened since last year.

*Text words of encouragement to all widowed moms I know (a longer list than I would like).

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Argue with a 3-year-old who wants to wear a leotard and too-small Easter shoes to the cemetery.

*Acquiesce to 3-year-old--why deny this small pleasure to the girl who knew her father for only 10 days? Smirk at the fact that he really doesn’t care what she wears anyway.

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Have traditional Father’s Day graveside family picnic while trying not to feel cheated. At least we didn’t need reservations.

*Smile at a nearly 5 year old who asks, “Can I kiss daddy?” as he leans over his father’s grave marker.

*On the drive home, ponder how next year’s picnic will play out as my children expand their understanding of death.

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Text “Happy Father’s Day” to all the important men in our lives to let them know we appreciate them. Pat self on the back for finally doing this after several years.

*Have dinner with Papa. Chuckle at the way my children attack him with hugs and Father’s Day greetings.

*Play with a puppy. Feed a puppy. Potty a puppy.

*Consider going to church next year and embracing the Father’s Day blessing.

*Realize how empty today would feel without having known Chris’s love or the gift of raising his children.

*Cuddle with a puppy. Make a mental note that this is great therapy.

*Go to bed. Send up a quiet prayer of gratitude that I not only made it through another Father’s Day, but that I actually enjoyed some of it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wedding Bells---Gail's Story

Here's some happy news from New Zealand that I think you'll enjoy too...
Gail was widowed in February of 2012, after 32 years of marriage. She wrote me this letter on March 12, 2013. But you'll see the pictures are more recent. You might remember the lovely poem she shared with us, The Other Half of Me a couple months ago. Now see how her story unfolds!

Dear Ferree---
I am getting married again!

My fiancé, Brian, had been helping me through the major part of last year as a friend. We knew each other from being homeschooling families when we met 20 years ago. I was good friends with his wife, Brenda; she was a wonderful woman of God and I would seek out her wisdom on many matters to do with homeschooling and family life in general. She died in a car accident just over 3 years ago and Brian has been through his own grief journey, drawing closer to God, and seeking His leading on what his life should look like as a widower.

My church family rallied round me and helped renovate my kitchen and laundry. My late husband, bless him, was a general contractor who started doing house renovations in 2000. In 2012 when he died it was functional but not finished. So after his death, it was worth less than I still owed the mortgage company.

Brian was doing what he thought God was telling him when he voluntarily helped me get my house in good enough order to sell it. Since I could not afford the mortgage I needed to get out of it for my own peace of mind. My children had all left home and it was a five bedroom home.

Gail and Brian
April 27, 2013
Brian spent hundreds of hours preparing the house for painting, painting it, and do all the fiddly little fix-up jobs required to make a house presentable for sale. I helped him a lot and we talked about all sorts of things, shared our own stories and started enjoying each other’s company.

By God’s grace my house sold for more than its rateable value, which has left me with a good nest egg; enough to rent a small house in town closer to my church family, buy a newer car and tide me over while looking for a job. I have been a homeschool Mum, helper in my husband’s contracting business, gardener, and casual worker in a library.

Jobs were hard to find for a 56-year-old woman, so when Brian offered to employ me in his painting business, I agreed. Hence we spent more time together, and started going out socially. I also helped him at his place with his extensive gardens and helping to organise his house. He had previously had some renovations done on his kitchen and he wanted it looked at “with a woman’s touch.”

Just before Christmas we realised we were extremely suited as a couple and started talking about getting married. God seemed to be leading us that way. I felt I needed to get past the occasion of my husband’s first anniversary and the dispersing of his ashes before I committed myself, but we are now going through all the “rigmarole” of marriage plans. It may seem very soon, but most people we know think it is great we can be here for each other.
That’s the story in a nutshell.

Dear Gail,
That's my favorite kind of nutshell!
We're all so happy for you, and it was so kind of you to share your story!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Widow's Story: Gracia Burnham

Dear Reader,
Why read about other widows? Here's my quick list answer:
  • So you know you're not alone
  • So you don't give up
  • So you can see that God has given women amazing inner strength and resilience!
  • So you'll see that God is with you, too
Perhaps you remember this missionary's story from the news headlines several years ago? Catch up with Gracia today by visiting the website link below. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a dramatic news video. ferree
The following is from the website:
"Gracia Burnham is the widow of Martin Burnham and the mother of Jeff, Mindy and Zach.
For 17 years she and Martin served with New Tribes Mission in the Philippines where Martin was a jungle pilot delivering mail, supplies and encouragement to other missionaries and transporting sick and injured patients to medical facilities. Gracia served in various roles supporting the aviation program and also home-schooled their children--all of which were born in the Philippines.
While celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at Dos Palmas Resort off Palawan Island, the Burnhams were kidnapped on May 27, 2001, by the Abu Sayyaf Group, a militant group of Muslims. They seized several more guests and took them to Basilan Island, an ASG stronghold.
In the ensuing months some of the hostages were killed, but most were set free. From November 2001, only the Burnhams and one other hostage remained in captivity.
During their 376 days of captivity, they faced near starvation, constant exhaustion, frequent gun battles, coldhearted murder-and intense soul-searching about a God who sometimes seemed to have forgotten them.
On June 7, 2002, in a firefight between the Philippine military and the Abu Sayyaf Group, Martin was killed. Gracia was wounded, but was freed.
Since that time Gracia has authored two books, In The Presence Of My Enemies, and To Fly Again. Her oldest son, Jeff ,and his wife, Sarah, have accepted an assignment with Flying Mission Services in Botswana, Africa. Mindy is now married to Andy Hedvall, a "missionary kid" from South America. Mindy has completed her course of study at New Tribes Bible Institute in Waukesha, WI and Andy continues in his training there. Zachary is attending Butler County Community College on a voice scholarship. Gracia resides in Rose Hill, Kansas. Because of her unique story, Gracia is a popular speaker for churches, conferences and schools."

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Widow's Story That I Wish Wasn't In The Bible!


I wish Genesis 38 could melt away and vanish as if it had never happend. But it did happen, and it all happened to Tamar, a woman as unsuspecting and undeserving of such tragedy as you or me. For details, go to Genesis 38, but here's a quick summary and cast of characters.

Judah: head of the tribe of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel; father of three sons.
Tamar: his daughter-in-law

In an arranged marriage, Tamar was wed to Judah's oldest son, Er. The Bible says Er was wicked in God's sight (oh, I'll bet he was a real gem to live with, wasn't he!--a little sarcasm there), so the Lord ended his life.

According to the custom of the day, it was then time for Judah's second son, Onan, to take over the marital duties of his deceased brother and provide Tamar with some offspring. Onan was willing to be sexual with Tamar, but to actually impregnate her? Never! He wouldn't do that. Scripture says, "whenever he lay with his brother's wife, he spilled his semen on the ground . . ." He clearly did this on purpose because he didn't want to get her pregant! And he did it more than once! Way to go, Onan, king of the jerks! God didn't think much of Onan, either. Exit Onan, through death's door.

How my heart cries for Tamar! The abuse she suffered! Plus, in that time and culture, if a woman wasn't married she was at the mercy of --well, hardly anyone. It's not like she could get a career or survive on her own with Er's and Onan's social security checks; that's why it was so important for her to have children and a stand-in husband.

Judah was now in a predicament. He didn't come right out and blame Tamar for his sons' dying. But he did hesitate to give her his third son. "The boy's too young," he told Tamar. "Go back to your dad's house and wait a bit for him to grow up." Tamar was probably less than twenty years old at this time, so she went to live with her father.

Time passed. Scripture says, "After a long time" Tamar didn't hear a word from Judah. In fact, it was such a long time that Judah's own wife died and he recovered from his grief. Judah started looking after his business again, which was sheep herding. He and his buddy, Hirah the Adullamite, took a little business trip to get their sheep sheered.

This trip took Judah into Tamar's neighborhood. By now she knew that Judah had no intention of wedding his youngest son to her, or of taking her as his own wife like he ought. But she did know Judah's weakness. So she disguised herself as a prostitute and waited along the road where he would pass.

Just as she had hoped, Judah saw her and propositioned for her service. He must not have had any money on him, because Tamar took his personal seal and staff as a pledge for payment. Afterwards Judah went to get her the money. And Tamar hid; when Judah tried to pay her he couldn't find her. He didn't seem too worried about it though, not knowing the "prostitute" was his own daughter-in-law.

Months later, Judah found out Tamar was pregnant. Upright man that he was, (yes, a little sarcasm again), he decided it was high time for him to uphold the family honor. "Burn her to death!" he ordered.

As Tamar was dragged to the stake where kindling, dried branches and firewood were being piled high, she sent word to Judah, along with his seal and staff. "Maybe Judah could identify the man who did this to her," was her message.

In shame, Judah admitted his guilt, declaring Tamar's righteousness. He took her into his home, but never slept with her again. Twins were born to Tamar, and from one of these twins, Perez, came the lineage of Christ. Tamar was honored as one of only five women in Matthew 1, the geneology of our Savior.

In spite of all Tamar went through, I have a feeling that today she would agree with the apostle Paul, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

Oh Lord, this world heaves with pain and sin. Women are victimized, sexually abused, down-trodden and condemned. Yet, You keep this little wisp of hope alive: You see, You know, You protect and preserve. You provide us, like Tamar, with the wits for survival, and the day our righteousness will be declared. In the meantime, Lord, help us to reach out to women who, like Tamar, are in impossible circumstances. Amen.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Widow's Story: Mandy Smith

A Story | Tears of Hope from Adam Kring on Vimeo.

This video is from a couple years ago, but it still touches hearts.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Christine's Story---God Is In The Details!

I was already having a bad week, feeling particularly raw for no reason other than the obvious. As some of you on Lifeboat might remember, I was asking the group about my hands shaking—wondering if anyone else had that happen. The shaking has been getting in my way, making it hard to use utensils, drink from a cup, typing, etc. Well, I saw my doctor this week and it seems I’ve developed something called essential tremors, also called benign essential tremors. It doesn’t seem very benign to me! It’s scary and embarrassing. No treatment is available except for going decaf and possibly taking a blood pressure pill (I don’t have a BP problem). Of course the medication will carry its own package of side effects.

I’m not just writing to complain (although I
'd welcome your prayers!). Instead, I wanted to share something that happened last week. I woke up thinking it was Saturday (but it was actually Friday), and I was going about my Saturday routine. I didn’t realize what day it was until around 10 a.m.--- I should have been at work!

I decided that if I was so stressed that my subconscious gave me a day off, I would use it. I let my very understanding boss know I wouldn’t be in.

After calling him, I went the town office to confirm the orientation of cemetery plots because I was in a fog and hardly able to think back in January when I purchased them. I then contacted the people who should be working on the grave marker (3 months and I’m still waiting for the 2
nd proof). Two week-day errands I needed a day off to do were crossed off my list.

Finally, I went to my garage to prep the weed-eater. It was one that my husband bought at the end of last season, so I hadn’t used it yet. I'd tried it once earlier in the week and discovered that it needed a certain kind of oil. OK, today I had the oil, had the fuel, had the owner’s manual, and actually got it started first try! Yay! I got about 20 yards of weeds done when the machine ran out of string. Drat! Trudged back to the garage, opened the manual to the string replacement section, and could not remove a necessary part. Remember, I have this benign tremor thing going on, plus the parts were made for man-sized hands. Grrr!

Careful use of a screwdriver (a step not included in the instructions) got the thing disassembled. I loaded the string, and then had another epic struggle getting it back together again. Success—I thought.

I started the thing up again, parts flew in a few different directions, and the string wrapped around the end of the machine! Apparently I had not gotten things locked together. Too bad I didn’t get it on video to send "America’s Funniest Videos", because I could use the prize money.

As I wandered around trying to find the parts, without a clue as to what direction they went, trying not to cry in frustration, and having gloomy visions of ordering parts that would cost too much and probably take a month to arrive, a landscaping crew pulled up to my neighbor’s house.

Great—I really needed professionals here to critique my lack of expertise. I just glanced at the men and continued my search, but one of them drove his machine up my drive. It was a friend of my step-son’s! He had come to say "Hi" before starting the job next door. I thought he’d get a laugh out of my adventures in weed-whacking and told him what had happened.

Instead of laughing, he helped me search and we actually found the parts! He went on to do his job next door, but his co-worker came over and asked if he could use the outdoor water faucet for his weed-killer container. I offered a trade: my water for his help putting the parts together. He cheerfully agreed and we both went to our respective chores.

What’s the point of telling you this? My husband and I learned over the years that if something is ridiculously hard or takes a strange turn from what we planned, it might mean that the Spirit was telling us we weren’t supposed to do it, or we were supposed to end up somewhere else.

So, if I had been able to use the weed-eater earlier in the week, I would have had the same problems, but I would be alone in my struggle. If I had known it was Friday, or resisted the way the day was going, I would be on my own with the trouble when Saturday came. Either way, I would have ended up feeling alone and helpless. Some of you may think this is a stretch, but I feel God arranged my week in this small thing (for Him) so help would be there when I needed it. Thank you Lord!

--Chris Sokol, 5/3/13

I'm thanking the Lord with you, Chris! Thank you for sharing! By the way, your neighbor's yard guys don't do printers, do they??? lol!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Judy's Story---An Unforgettable Role Model

My friend Judy on Lifeboat2 shared this last week and I just had to pass it along.

I'm 14 months out on my widow journey---just a baby myself. Sometimes it feels like last week and sometimes like a very long time ago. This journey isn't for the weak...we are women
hear us roar!

I have a touching day a week I volunteer as a chaplain assistant at an area hospital. I can go anywhere in the hospital so I never know what I'll encounter.
I pray before I leave my home, asking for God to take me along with Him...

Well, I entered the room of this darling, 85 yr. old woman and asked if I could sit down.

She said, "Of course," and then I commented on all her beautiful flowers. She had like 4 different arrangements so I knew she wasn't alone in her hospital stay...

She proceeded to tell me the flowers were from her kids and her sister, and she told me all about them. Then she told me she wasn't doing very good. She'd been admitted in the hospital for pneumonia but the fluid testing showed she had lung cancer. She had just 10 minutes ago found this out. And here I was, the first person she's telling. She had an MRI scheduled that afternoon to see if cancer had spread.

I asked about a husband and she said she was a widow of 29 years...she shed some tears, and proceeded with me about how to tell her she thought they would handle it...

Anyway I was sitting there thinking oh boy--- as a widow---  talk about making difficult decisions on your own...

We talked for quite awhile and I shared I was a widow also...
Her phone rang. I got it for her and put my chair back to leave her room, when-- (this was precious) --in middle of all her own horrible stuff she pointed her finger at me. She said, "As a widow you'll make it---but you have a long way to go and a lot to learn."

I love people who tell it like it is...and I was very emotionally touched she took the time away from her health crises to encourage me. Amen!...I want to grow up and be like that!  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Donate Life---A Widow's Story

April is Donate Life month and we're swapping stories about this amazing gift. I'd love to hear from you! Many thanks go this week to Susan, who's been following this blog almost a year now. Please email me at [email protected] if you'd ever be willing to share your story with us. Just the other day a widow told me that these stories have been one of the things that have helped her the most! I think you'll find Susan's story a great help too. ferree

Susan & Donnie
I would like to share our families Organ Donor experience. My sweet 53-year-old husband and I slid on black ice Dec 15, 2010. Our SUV hit a tree and Donnie sustained multiple injuries, including blunt-force trauma to the brain. As Christians, we know that Gods healing ability is far greater than anything doctors and medicine can do. However, on the third day in the trauma unit, with no improvement, the prognosis from the doctors at Vanderbilt (Nashville, TN) sank into my brain.

Donnie and I had both signed organ donor cards but the final decision is left up to the surviving spouse. The question was posed to me as I sat with family around a large table in a conference room at the hospital. I knew in my heart what Donnie would say. Still, I looked at his adult son and daughter, his mom, brother, sister. They were all nodding in agreement as tears mingled with their smiles. Paperwork followed, an assessment of his condition, and a meeting with the Organ Donor Chaplain.

The chaplain asked me to tell him about Donnie. Donnie was a big man with a big heart for Christ; he had grown up in the German Baptist Church, similar to Mennonites. Ken, the chaplain, was familiar with this group. He had served in an area of Ohio less than 50 miles from where Donnie's parents lived. He knew that foot washing was a part of their church practice so he asked if I would like to have him arrange for that service. Wow! What are the chances of meeting a chaplain so familiar with this little known church and their meaningful practice? Do we underestimate what God can do?

On Sunday morning, Dec 19, 2010, in room 621 at Vanderbilt Hospital, more than 25 precious people gathered. Donnie's brother read verses from the Bible. Chaplain Ken had a basin and towels. As many as wanted to participate washed Donnie's feet with love, and then I dried them.

For us, organ donorship was an act of giving and of love, just like Donnie's life had been. Besides, he would have said, 'What do we need those old body parts for in heaven? God promises us a new body!' Donnie's organs gave new life to men struggling with health problems and perhaps skin grafts to children who were burned in a Christmas tree house fire the next day. It signified something good coming from something tragic. I know God was saying 'well done.'

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Donate Life --- What's Your Story?

April is National Donate Life Month. If you have a donor experience or advice you'd be willing to share, I'd love to hear from you.

I hope, too, you'll get to know the story of Kevin Johnson and the wonderful foundation built through the Lord's work in his life. Click the quick link below to get involved. I thank his wife, my Facebook friend Tammy, for her love and enthusiasm in letting me pass this on to you.

Click the Kevin Wade Johnson Foundation link below. Then scroll down a little further and join the Blog Hop today.

In Memory of Kevin Johnson
January 13, 2010
In 2005 Kevin developed a rare blood cancer that attacked his heart. He had 2 heart transplants and 2 stem cell transplants and recovered from them miraculously. On January 13th of 2010 Kevin developed an infection that took his life. The Kevin Wade Johnson Foundation has a mission to spread the saving gospel of our Lord Jesus and glorify His name through Christian missions and organ donation awareness.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rolemodel: Elisabeth Elliot

Sometimes I think we learn best from other widows, don't you?

Elisabeth Elliot has a lifetime of experience and personal Bible study that we can glean from. From the jungles of South America where her first husband was murdered by Auca Indians who'd never seen a missionary before, to Bible conferences, radio programs, writing books, remarriage, and more widowhood, Elisabeth always speaks from the strong and secure foundation of God's faithfulness.

Her website is a wonderful resource where you can read her biography, find out about great books, or  enjoy using the daily devotions.

In any case, I hope you'll be encouraged by her example to stay faithful to God and build a godly legacy! Her website is just a click away: Elisabeth Elliot

Visit here again soon, and feel free to leave a comment, a prayer request or share your own story.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Widow In Debt

empty mason jar
Originally uploaded by drburtoni
She couldn't pay her bills so they were coming to sell her sons into slavery . . .

2 Kings 4 (New International Version)
The Widow's Oil

1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves."

2 Elisha replied to her, "How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?"
"Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a little oil."

3 Elisha said, "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side."

5 She left him and afterward shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another one."

But he replied, "There is not a jar left." Then the oil stopped flowing.

7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left."

Resources you have on hand + godly counsel + believing and obeying that counsel = God's provision

If you're struggling, please let your church know. Add your prayer request here on the Need Prayer tab, or join a Lifeboat group and have them pray for you too. You don't have to face this alone!

On Wednesdays we share stories of widows, a different one each week. They might be from the Bible, from history, from the news headlines or maybe even from you! Your “ordinary” story will be told here to others who will understand how “extraordinary” it truly is, so please tell us about yourself. Just email me at [email protected] and I will make it easy for you. ferree

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Widow Who Raised An Evangelist

womenofthebible-insertIf you are a mother trying to raise a godly son on your own, I think you'll take heart from the story of Eunice, a Christian mother in the first century. Apparently without a husband, she raised her son Timothy to be a godly man and essential help to the Apostle Paul and the early church.

Bible Gateway features her story and you can simply click here to read the fascinating account.

What dreams and aspirations do you have for your children? There's no reason to let go of them because your husband is gone. In fact, now is the time to invest even more strongly in their godly character and future.
It's not hard, but it's worth it and God knows you can do this.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Interview with Red Dwyer About Widowhood

A special welcome today to participants of The Widowed Blog Hop! These are widowed bloggers from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences. I recently met Red Dwyer through the Hop----of course we all "meet" bloggers all the time, but Red and I met IN PERSON!
She had visited this blog in January, and when I mentioned how I post widows stories and interviews she took two seconds to write "I'm open to an interview." And so . . . .(drum roll) . . . here we are today! Turns out only 60 miles run between us, so I got my wheels, Red donned her chef hat, and over steaming bowls of her delicious jambalaya, I met her two sweet children still at home and glimpsed her remarkable life.
Three years ago Red's 45-year-old husband was diagnosed with mesothelioma and adenocarcinoma--two types of cancer. He had less than six months between diagnosis and death, which left Red and nine surviving children between the ages of twenty-one and four.  During this time she wrote Killing Us Softly - Becoming the Surviving Spouse of Cancer.
Did the doctors or anyone give you a timeframe? Did you know how quickly life would change?
No, they knew better than give us a date. He was in no position to handle such news, but I knew from experience. We knew it was metastatic, and before it was over had spread to the bone and brain. At the same time, my stepmother was dying of metastatic breast cancer. She died six weeks after he did. 
Red, you were raising children, writing a book, caring for your home, battling with the state for your autistic children's educational needs, your stepmother was dying  . . . on top of trying to get decent medical care for Russell. As a writer, what word or words would you pluck to describe those months and weeks?
When I look back the one word which sticks out is focus. The tide of emotion and the undercurrent of information, coupled with the rip tide of misinformation and verisimilitude, easily wipes out the most organized, balanced people. Focusing on the minutes instead of the (weeks, months, years) left is what reveals the stepping stones amongst the stumbling blocks.
What thoughts come to mind when you think back to that time? Is it hard to believe it's been three years already?
For me it is harder to believe it has only been three years. The intervening time has been very packed. When I look at things and wonder how they would be different it is hard to conceptualize all the changes in just three years.
If you were going to write a book about all the changes---perhaps a sequel to Killing Us Softly---what would be some of your chapter titles? 
Tarnished Silence
Chores are not the enemy.
Dates belong on calendars.
Tree of Life=Family Tree
Corporate Rebirth
Just call me “Momdy
Lick this, Timex!
Thursday, 3PM: Nothing
What did you do that helped you the most? 
Staying the course. I had an epic battle with the state of South Carolina over the school situation for my autistic toddlers. On the day of my husband's memorial service, I had a grandson born, and a son graduated from high school. Had I the time, I likely would have fallen more to pieces. My role in the family was not forborne because of my husband's funeral.
What was the hardest thing about widowhood for you?
The way the children deal with it in their own ways. The autistic children (we have three of those) took a pragmatic, yet slow approach to it. The teens took it cyclically hard and easy. The twenty-somethings were a mixed bag of detached and devastated. With all of the emotions on differing planes, it was, and still can be, difficult. Today, they are doing better. As with the death of their sister, we revisit less frequently than we did even a year ago.
What was the most helpful thing people did for you? The worst thing?
Helpful: Chores. Worst: Evangelize. 
Would you please talk a little bit about how Russell's death affected your faith?
This shook my faith to its core. It eclipsed what I felt should be shouldered by devout and faithful followers. It was compounded by church members who paraphrased the Bible to suit their particular brand of faith. My relationship with God remained, but subdued. The blessings in the aftermath and the deliverance of peace were the only reconciliatory fragments between us. I needed it to later show others how faith can endure.
Had my faith not been so shattered, I never would have learned what held it together and how to keep it from disassembling in the future. I was carried when I was weakest, so I could concentrate on the tasks at hand. It was God’s hall pass for me to do battle without meeting demands only placed by mortals. I had to tend the spiritual garden in my home rather than the one with all the able bodies at church.
You're not alone, Red. Abandoned, cut in half, forsaken by God . . . shaken to the core . . .I know I've felt that, even though my experience seems like it was so much easier than yours. And add to your pain a panel of church people judges---just like Job's "comforters." Yet, you've discovered more than survival.
What would you like most for others to learn from your experience?
Not only is it survivable, it is so with grace and abundance.

What encouragement can you give a woman who is in the early raw pain of loss to help her find that grace and abundance?
Take every offer of help. You may have no idea why this person would offer to help. It is part of the great design. Take the help. Ultimately, you may be helping them on their own journey of grief.
What Bible verse has been most comforting to you?
2 Timothy 4:7
I don’t recall anyone else ever tagging that verse as a comfort—except for me. I had those exact words engraved on Bruce’s tombstone. How is it a comfort for you?
Two ways. First, my husband did not succumb in weakness, but transcended in triumph. Second, I did not succumb in weakness, but transcended in triumph. My husband embraced his faith and died in peace. I fought beyond his death to exist on a plane of peace which is stronger for the fight.
In five years from now, if anything were possible, what would you like to be doing?
Hosting an author's retreat at a bed and breakfast.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I have been touched by those who have read my book. They claim my strength through the process, where all I see are the places where I was carried. There is great healing in helping others on their path, even those who are merely witnesses to others' grieving.

Thank you for visiting with us all today, Red, and may God open up some effective opportunities for you.
With boundless energy Red works with writers.
Her blog for writers: The M3 Blog:
Link to her book:
Her production company: Redmund Productions: