Showing posts with label Support Group Ideas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Support Group Ideas. Show all posts

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Exponential Power of Widows to Widows

Two women in Warsaw Indiana became widows within 4 months of each other in 2015. Both husbands died unexpectedly--one from a heart attack, one from a plane crash, both 50 years young. Both of their wives were unknown to each other.

Then a mutual friend who was a widow hosted a support group and the two new widows, Michelle and Stephanie met.

During their second year of widowhood they came across my book, branched off from their friend's group and went through it.

Then Michelle opened up her home and they took a group of 14 widows through it.

Then their pastor heard about what they were doing and asked if they'd come do it in the church!
So they did! And now they are going through my book a THIRD TIME!

Well I just had to find out how they do this. Maybe I could do it too.

Here's how they work it:

Meet once a month for five months. Monday evenings, 6:30 - 8:00 in the church cafe′ area. They push tables together so everyone is together in one group. They've had around 10 - 14 women attend. Michelle and Stephanie are at the 4-year mark in their widow journey so they especially have a heart for newer widows although all are welcome.

Stephanie works in the church office so she calls and invites each woman who's been recently widowed in their church, and then the rest of them come by word of mouth. Some repeat the group, but "Most of them are not from our church," said Michelle. It's becoming a great community outreach!

They start casually at 6:30 asking everyone, "How was your week? Is there anything we can pray about?" And then they get into the "Postcards..." Everyone has come prepared, having read one section/five chapters of the book. They discuss the parts that stood out to them personally while reading. They ask questions like---
  • What caught your attention in the chapters this month? 
  • What did you underline or highlight? 
  • What was the best thing you learned? 
  • Which questions or scenes in the book touched your heart? etc. 
Everyone gets a chance to talk. Michelle is conscientious for everyone's time and dismisses promptly right at 8:00.

Newcomers are always welcome. When a new widow comes, they usually take a break from the book and spend the time introducing everyone to her and giving group members a chance to tell their stories so the new widow will realize she is not alone. Widows minister to widows. Isn't that good?

Thanks Michelle and Stephanie for your compassion for other widows! And thanks Pastor Denny Wilson and Warsaw Community Church for caring for widows! God bless you all!
Order your copy of "Postcards..." here at my Bookstore.
P.S. It seems to be turning into a year-round ministry. After going through "Postcards from the Widows' Path" they use a book from called "Grieving With Hope." What a great balance!

Are you part of a widows' group Bible study? I'd love to hear what you do too. Please email me at [email protected] 

Monday, March 25, 2019

How to Start A Widow's Group

Last week I shared about the Naomi Ministry in Alban PA. Their group started when the Lord stirred the hearts of two widows to reach out to others. Is God stirring your heart too?

I've heard from many of you that He is!

Reaching out ideas and actions come in many forms:
  • A Mennonite widow in Virginia hosted a Valentines Dinner for widows in her new business venture, a café, and gave them a free, delicious meal along with an evening of heart-felt sharing and talent.
  • A church in the Pittsburgh PA area plans to host a Tea for Widows event, aiming for 50 to attend.
  • A twice-widowed woman I recently met leads a group of 192 widows at her church, and the church didn't seem too interested at first! But she told me that although she doesn't fight for many things, her experiences of walking alone and abandoned as a widow made her passionate that no other woman in her circle of influence will ever have to go it alone like she did! The church leaders seem to be listening now. 😅
  • "Book club" type groups use Postcards from the Widows Path and its discussion guide, (request the guide by emailing me at [email protected] I'll need your mailing address); or Miriam Neff's From One Widow to Another set of DVD's. 
  • Other groups-- small, local groups of 4 - 12 women like mine in South Carolina or Bebe's in the Philadelphia area get together for lunch in homes or restaurants about once a month. Bebe always makes sure they have some good laughs by bringing along some silly stories and jokes. I start with a fun "ice-breaker" conversation starter, we eat and talk, and afterwards we have some "soul food" which is just a short devotional, a Psalm, or a reading from this blog or Facebook pertaining to widowhood and hope. Then we talk some more!
  • CEO--Caring for Each Other, is a local group that started with a widow's heart to help others back in 2012 in Kansas. It now reaches over 100 hurting people in their community, funded and fueled by God's grace. My friend Carmen has seen God supply their needs over and over again.
There are others too! and I hope to tell you about them in the weeks to come. But back to the basic question---How to START?

Pray! And pray about all these things:
  • Find the person(s) you can team up with.
  • Discern whether your group can be 1). a ministry of your local church (always the first choice, but not always possible), or if it will be 2). a home group, or 3). a community group that meets in a public place. 
  • Talk about your purpose and outreach--what unique service will you provide? Fellowship and social and  emotional support are legit! But you can also survey widows in the area or in your church to see what they actually want and if your ideas fit. This will help build a case for your church to be involved.
  • Decide how often to meet--(weekly, bi-weekly, monthly; a.m. or p.m.), what you will do, any costs involved. (I will mention resources in a future post). 
  • Plan your first kick-off event and start inviting! 
For further detail and help go to Miriam Neff's website and this page: How To Start A Widows Ministry  She has a wealth of information. You'll find a ready-made survey to download and a starter list for referrals of businesses to help widows in your locale. Search the rest of her website for 7 reasons why churches should have widows ministry and how to order her DVD's for starting a widows group.

Let's do this!

💗 ferree

Monday, March 18, 2019

Widows Group: Naomi's Ministry in Alban, PA

Getting ready to kick-off into their second year of ministry, the Naomi's Ministry in Alban, PA continues to blossom and grow. Denise Sweeney sent me a description and some of the ways that she and co-leader Carol Eskridge get the word out about their weekly group.

I'm delighted to share their ideas here so you can adapt them to start your own group at your church.

First, the pictures, then follow through to see the good stuff Denise told me. (If you're viewing this on your phone and the photos don't show, try clicking on the title so you can get to the actual site).

 This is their brochure. At the top you'll see:
*Naomi's Ministry (named after Naomi from the Book of Ruth in the Bible) *their mission statement in a nutshell--widows helping widows
At the bottom:
*the church name and address
On the back (not pictured):
*contact info for Carol and Denise with their names, phone #s and email addresses.

Inside the brochure it says "As widows, we are on a journey that God has chosen for us. It's a difficult one, but God has told us in His Word that we are special to His heart." (II Corinthians 1:3-4  and I Peter 5:10 are printed out in full in case you can't see it in my fuzzy photo).

I love this idea---the folded standing up card is simply an altered version of the front of the brochure. It's printed on card stock, blank on the inside, and may be used for notecards or at luncheons for place marks, etc.

This last photo displays the promo sheet for their start up which was a luncheon for widows at their church. They also created a questionnaire to gather information about each attendee and their interests, and also discover additional ideas for ways that a widows group could effectively minister.
The group has since invited speakers from their church who are professionals in estate and financial planning and they've taken day trips and more! They always have announcements in the church programs and good support from the office staff and pulpit--which is very important! Please read on for more from Denise.
What is the main thing you do? 

·        Our main purpose is to offer support love and encouragement to Widows. To give them a safe place that they can come and share their pain, cry and grieve with others who understands. No one can really understand what a widow is going through better than another widow.

·        We have done book studies (Postcards from a Widows Path, From One Widow to Another, and others).

·        Once a month we meet at a local pizza place for a change of pace. On those nights we do a devotional and share a meal and just enjoy being together.

·        We have done trips together. This past November we went to Lancaster to the Sight and Sound Theatre to see the show JESUS. Afterward we had a wonderful meal together.  We have also done day trips to the shore and Lancaster to shop and have lunch together. And the ladies also enjoy getting together for lunch or dinner. Not the entire group but maybe 3 or 4 of the ladies will do that between meetings. The ladies have really bonded and truly enjoy spending time together. On special occasions we will go out to a nicer place for dinner to celebrate holidays and such. We also do weekly prayer requests and praises for answered prayers.

·        We are coming up on our 2nd year anniversary. We plan to celebrate by having a High Tea at our church on March 30th. We also plan on inviting Widows from other local churches to come to find out more about our group.

·        One more thing that I forgot to mention. We have also had meetings with guest speakers. For example: we had a financial planner from our church come and explain to the ladies how to take over and manage our funds (or lack there of). He explained budgeting, insurance needs, etc. We also had an estate lawyer, again from our church, come to explain wills, POA’s living wills, etc.  These people were able to offer advice that was so valuable to the Widows during a time of confusion and not being sure what they should or should not be doing.

How did your group get started?

·        Our group got started after reading “Postcards from a Widows Path.”

·        God just really put it on my heart the need for a ministry to the Widows at our church. Once the idea got started, God graciously opened doors for us to get started.

·        Carol Eskridge and I presented our plans to the Women’s Ministry at our Church. From there, we presented the idea to the Church Committee. We received encouragement, support and approval from all concerned.

·        Our first meeting was held on March 25, 2017. We placed announcements in our church bulletin, along with passing out flyers and inviting Widows that we knew personally. We held a luncheon at our church to share what we would like to offer to Widows. We told the ladies how very much God Loves and Cares for Widows and how we hoped that our group could help share God’s love with them.

·        God has been so faithful to Carol and me over these last two years and we have seen amazing growth and blessings in the ladies of Naomi’s Ministry
Thank you Denise, and may God use this to plant other widow ministries!
Do you have a widows group going too? I'd love to hear about it! Please email me at [email protected] 
Thank for visiting here today,

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Widows Link Cruise

At the Widow's Journey Retreat I was so pleased to meet a "missionary to widows" --Marlene Craft. Wow! What a wonderful concept and ministry! In 2015 Marlene became the first missionary to widows with the Assemblies of God denomination. I want to explore her website more but I also want to let you know about A CRUISE FOR WIDOWS she hosts. This will be the 5th year, and it's growing and growing. I imagine the weekend retreat I was just at and having 6 days together instead of just 2-- it'd be a wonderful, life-enhancing, growing time with the Lord.
The registration is coming up quick--March 21. UPDATE: It's been changed to May 15! yay! I hope some of you can go! Contact Marlene at her website Widows Link  if you have any questions.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Widow's Memory Portrait

(Don't forget, if you receive this blog post on your cell phone the photos might not show up. Easy fix: just click on the title and they'll show up!)

My friend Andrea just received this from her nephew on Wednesday---a charcoal portrait that he'd drawn of her and her husband! She showed it on Facebook and wrote "Our nephew just surprised me with this charcoal sketch he made of me and Greg. Oh my word! I love it. Happy tears. Happy tears! Thank you! 

Andrea was at my house last Friday when we were ooh-ing and ahh-ing over Pat's memory quilt. And now she has her own amazing creation! Happy tears for sure! I can't imagine the joy and deep love she must have felt when she opened this special surprise from her nephew. Thanks for letting me show this here Andrea! 💗ferree
Priscilla, Debbie, Pat and Andrea at my place.
I wanted to show you this so you could see
what an excellent sketch her nephew did. It 
looks just like her! Beautiful!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Widows Memory Bears

Hello! I'm so pleased to share these photos from a new friend named Sue. Aren't these bears the cutest things? Sue says that a family friend offered to make them for her, and like Pat's memory quilt that I showed you yesterday, her husband's shirts and other pieces provided the fabric and the memories.
Sue said,
I asked family members if they were interested.  Each one who was actually picked the shirt they wanted made into a bear.  Then we met with my friend Donna and designed them.  

From the left: bear made from husband Roger's chenille bathrobe and one of his favorite shirts. The bear went to their daughter.
The plaid bear was from a favorite shirt that Sue gave her husband, and now it's her chosen keepsake.
The next bear is sporting a favorite red sweater and was given to a family friend.
Finally, the bear on the far right was made from the shirt and jeans that Roger wore when he held their youngest granddaughter, Sutton.

But wait, there's more!
This is granddaughter Sutton's memory bear with some pink
accessories to make it more feminine for her. Sweet!

And this stylish bear went to the oldest granddaughter, Amanda.
It was created from Roger's ties. I love the yellows and
blues and the great way the seamstress placed the
patterns. What a wonderful keepsake!
I was so tickled that Sue shared these photos with us and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. And I hope they give you some ideas of how you could create some keepsakes too.

Please pray for Sue as she faces the first anniversary of widowhood in just a couple of weeks. Pray for widows every day---we might not know their names, but we know their hearts.

Monday, June 25, 2018

What's Surprised You Most About Widowhood?

A few weeks ago widows from Florence and Darlington met with me at Bethea Retirement Community. Jenny Doll, the Director of Marketing and Admissions had arranged for me to give a talk about my book, Postcards from the Widows’ Path. With a delicious platter of refreshments, comfy seating in Bethea’s lovely parlor with a beautiful courtyard and fountain view, Jenny’s warm hospitality made for an afternoon of budding friendships and heart-felt connections.

Whenever I speak in public I know there will be people listening who have overcome their own sorrow and hardships. I should be listening to them! So I count it an honor and privilege to speak. I love meeting people afterwards and hearing some of their stories. Often, my talks are conversation starters for grief and widowhood topics that are essential but often silently tabooed in society. I provide respect and a “safe” place for people to tell their stories and discover the relief of knowing they are not alone.  

It’s also an honor to speak to widows because they hold a special place in the Bible. Did you know that in the geneology of Jesus four out of the five women named were widows? And who was the first woman to tell the world about Jesus? A widow! There are many other surprising things about widows in the Bible but they all point to the fact that God cherishes widows and never overlooks or forgets them.

Widowhood, too, is full of surprises. We talked about many physical challenges such as fatigue, insomnia, lower immunity, weight loss/gain, etc.; it’s also hard to concentrate and deal with unexpected grief “attacks.” Yet we have to make monumental estate, financial or medical decisions at this time!

A collective sigh went through the group as I mentioned the social surprises of widowhood, especially how some friendships change. While everyone was grateful for supportive friends and family, each had experienced some friendships that disintegrated. Some people you thought were your friends treat you like a contagious disease. They’re blind to the huge, lonely hole in your heart and no one seems to “get it.”

When I was a young pastor’s wife I didn’t know any of this. Sure, we had some widows in our little churches in Ohio but they said they were “fine,” and I happily took their word for it. The widows group nodded in agreement; they could relate to telling their pastor’s wife they were fine when they really weren’t. What else do people expect you to say?

We touched on many other things too: how long grief lasts; that it’s different for each individual; that the essence of grief is love—if we’d never loved we’d never grieve; and the courage it takes to get this far along in life.

Most surprising of all is that God chose to put a book in the Bible that’s all about widows and the choices they make—the Book of Ruth. From the older widow Naomi, full of despair, to her daughter-in-law Ruth, full of determination, we can take heart and take hope because God loves widows. Nothing surprises Him. 
What's surprised you most about widowhood? Next time you meet with your widows or grief support group ask them this question. It'll give everyone a good chance to open up. We don't need answers--God has all of those, widows just need to have a chance to tell their stories and discover that they're not alone.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pictures With Friends!

Lisa and Judy now know my secret shame--
I'm a failure at line dancing! I promise to 
practice, be able to do it longer than 5 minutes,
get more coordinated,
and dress better for it next year. ;) 
Here I'm with Janice and Ann--I didn't know
they were coming but they sought me out
because they read this blog! Ann was in my
small group too and it was a sacred privilege
for me to meet them and to feel that instant
kinship we have in the Lord.
Hi Everyone! Here are some of the other widows who read this blog! I met them in person at A Widow's Journey Retreat! If you have other photos please email them to me--I'm sure everyone would love to see them. [email protected]  
♥ ferree

It was such a blessing to meet Sandra! She lives in California 
and happened to be out east to help her parents just at the
right time attend the retreat. Her mom, Mildred, not widowed,
but graciously came along. Many women brought a family
member or friend and I think they enjoyed it too.

This special group started about 3 years ago with a lot of prayer,
using my book "Postcards from the Widows' Path," and the
faithful commitment of the lady in the front with the blue print top, 
Denise Sweeney! It was an absolute delight to meet them all
and to have Marge (back row, first on the left) in my small group.
How cool that so many from this group in
Pennsylvania could all come together!

My roommate Bettie! She's been a widow
for 19 years but you can see from her smile
that it doesn't keep her down because
of the joy and comfort she's found
in the Lord. She was also a small group
leader and has helped with the retreat every 
year since the start. Maybe she'll be your group
leader next year if you come---you'll love her!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Widows Journey Retreat with Tammy Trent

Here's another highlight from A Widow's Journey Retreat at Sandy Cove Ministries in North East, Maryland, two weeks ago. Plan now to attend next year! Mark your calendar for March 1-3, 2019 and start funding your piggy bank. Prices for a quad: $215/person; a triple room: $265/person; a double room: $315/person; single room $425. (Prices include delicious meals and beautiful facilities overlooking the Chesapeake Bay!)

Tammy Trent
graciously let me get a photo op after she spoke
and touched our hearts on Saturday morning. 
Please click here and then click the play arrow for the 5 minute video of Tammy's profound story and you'll catch a bit of what we heard at the retreat. (If you're reading this on your email and the links or photo do not appear please click the title of this page to go directly to the blog for them).

Here are a few quotes from my notes for the rest of Tammy's encouragement to the group at Widows Journey:

"God's intention is always to move us to a place of wholeness and healing."

"Things are allowed to happen when God sees it will serve a greater purpose."

"What do you need? . . . Without healing we spread brokenness."

That question "What do you need? was reiterated the next day. I always perk up my listening when I catch the same messages. God loves us and I've found He's willing to repeat things until we hear and pay attention.

So exactly what do you need? Let's talk about it.

If you've been working, working, working, trying so hard to get through this on your own, one thing I can tell you is that widow after widow I talked to that weekend said the same thing: How do people get through this without the Lord? 

If you wonder whether or not God and his promises really exist and operate like Tammy said in her video--even when we are numb with sorrow and heartbreak--add your comments here today or email me with your questions at [email protected] This is a safe place to examine our questions and doubts.  
♥ ferree

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Widows Journey Retreat Reviews

Have you registered for the retreat yet? (see yesterday's post).
If you're like me you'll want to read some reviews before deciding. Marcia and Donna, widow friends of mine who went last year wrote the following to me last March and I'm re-posting their comments today. But please visit this link too, to see what others also had to say.

You had asked my thoughts on the Widows Journey weekend at Sandy Cove. I am 4.5 years out from my husband's death and my friend is 6 years out from her husband's passing. (She also lost her son 6 months after her husband). We weren't sure about attending thinking maybe it would bring back too much of the sorrow of the early years. I emailed Gayle and asked. She assured me that there would be women there in all stages of widowhood and that the weekend would emphasize the positive. So we signed up thinking if nothing else it would be a weekend away at a nice location. Gayle was certainly right. The first night we met widows of 3 weeks (cannot imagine!) to 26 years. There were women from California, Texas and Missouri and most East Coast states. Both my friend and I felt so at home with everyone in our small groups right away. It was such a relief to be among "friends" who understand and a relief to not be around couples and be odd woman out. We sat with different women at almost every meal and had great conversations. The worship time, led by Kathy Benjamin, was inspiring. The speakers were uplifting. The food was delicious and the accommodations were lovely. We are planning to return next year -- not that we really need so much comfort anymore but that we both feel like we can be used to help other widows not as far along. We would also like to explore the lovely grounds at Sandy Cove. This year the weather was very cold and windy but the views of the Chesapeake Bay is amazing even from inside. I would just like to encourage anyone thinking about the weekend to come! I'm thankful I did.  ~ Marcia S. T. Pennsylvania

What a great weekend. Thanks for recommending Widow’s Journey! I met up with Kathy H. (another widow who knows Ferree) on Saturday and we were able to meet several times at lunch and supper. On Sunday, Gayle Roper had women that were either leading a  group or those interested in starting a group for widows meet at breakfast. A table for 8 was reserved, but quickly grew to 14. We moved to the auditorium after breakfast. We exchanged emails and hope to keep in touch with one another. Two ladies in that group follow your blog--and they are in the process of starting their group, Naomi’s Ministry.

Sandy Cover was the perfect, serene setting for this weekend. Would love to attend next year. ~ Donna H. (California)

Will you attend A Widow's Journey? March 2 - 4 (Friday - Sunday). Please email me at [email protected] and let me know when you are registered. Over 100 other widows will be there along with several who follow this blog and my Facebook groups too, so you will be among friends. I hope you'll come too. Wouldn't it be great to meet in person all of us who are already friends online?
♥ ferree

Mini Sabbatical lighthouse.jpg

Thursday, June 29, 2017

July Bible Reading Plan for Widows

Oh my! The heat has gotten to me so I'm going to go overboard and set out a wild challenge! Copy and print this page so you can tuck it in your Bible and get ready to start.
July only---the first 10 people to email me when they have completed this reading schedule will receive a free book! At the end of the month I'll tell you how. Now, on your mark, get set, GO!

July 2017




I Cor. 1
I Cor. 2
I Cor. 3
I Cor. 4
I Cor. 5
I Cor. 6
I Cor. 7
Ps. 24
I Cor.
I Cor.
I Cor.
I Cor.
I Cor.
Ps. 39

I Cor.
I Cor.
I Cor.
II Cor.
II Cor.
II Cor.

II Cor.
Ps. 116
II Cor.
II Cor.
II Cor.
Ps. 30
II Cor.
II Cor.
II Cor.
II Cor.

II Cor.
II Cor.