January 21, 2019
Each one of us faces the unknown every single day! This is why James offers an important reminder:
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. stead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15
When facing the unknown, the Bible offers great promises for those who put their trust in God:
Read the verse and make note of the promise to claim:
Jeremiah 49:11 “… let your widows trust in Me.”
Psalm 9:10 “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
Promise: When I put my trust in God, He will not forsake me.
Psalm 37:5 “Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Promise: Commit my way to the Lord and He will do it.
Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear and will trust in the LORD.”
Promise: God will put a new song in my mouth and many will fear and trust in the Lord.
Psalm 62:8 “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”
Promise: Trust God at all times. Pour out my heart to Him. God is a refuge for me.
Psalm 115:11 “You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD; He is their help and their shield.”
Promise: For those who trust in the Lord, He is their help and their shield.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Promise: Trust the Lord with all my heart leaning not on my own understanding. He will make my paths straight.
Psalm 31:14 “But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.”
Psalm 33:21 “For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.”
Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You.”
Psalm 56:11 “In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
January 1, 2019
As we pack Christmas away, may the message and power of this true eternal story remain with us. The end of the year lends itself to times of reflection.
Scripture records two occasions where Mary “treasured.” Both times came after experiencing something beyond her understanding and imagination.
Luke 2:19 records that “Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” This time of consideration came after Jesus was miraculously conceived, birthed and now she held the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world, in her arms. There are no words to express the joy and wonder felt as you finally look into the eyes of your newborn after months of anticipation, but to hold the Son of God, as Mary experienced, is more than we can begin to comprehend. What a great gift! She had so much to treasure and even more to ponder.
The next time Mary treasured was after her young son, Jesus, had been missing for three days. When she found Him in the temple, Jesus’ response to Mary was, “Did you not know that I had to be about my Father’s house?” Of course she didn’t know. The Bible goes on to share, “…they did not understand the statement He had made to them.” How could she understand why her boy had left her side to teach men in the temple? She just couldn’t. Luke 2:51 states, “…and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”
In his commentary, Matthew Henry discusses the act of treasuring:
“The truths of Christ are worth keeping; and the way to keep them safe is to ponder them. Meditation is the best help to memory. That which at first is dark, so that we know not what to make of it, may afterwards become plain and easy; we should therefore lay it up for hereafter.”
Mary set an example to all of us: When we are troubled, we must treasure. God is always at work beyond our limited understanding. Darkness is always light to God (Psalm 139:12), but honestly, always appears dark to us – in our experience, understanding and knowledge of the work God is doing on our behalf and for His glory.
When my children were in the home, we were intentional about one-on-one moments expressing different emotions we were feeling i.e. what made us sad, what made us happy, etc. This helped me learn how to pray for them. Their responses were recorded in a journal that I updated each time we shared. As we closed out the year, our family followed Mary’s example of reflection. We each filled out our “Year-At-A-Glance” to share together on New Year’s Day. You may want to take time to think through these questions and plan a time of intentional sharing with your family. You may discover something you want to treasure or jot down an experience you will need to ponder before the Lord.
What made you happy?
- What made you happy this year?
- Were there any special celebrations?
- What do you look forward to in 2019?
What made you sad?
- Did you experience something painful or difficult?
- What was your biggest lesson learned from this?
What did you treasure?
- What memories did you make?
- Did God answer a specific prayer need or teach you something?
What causes you to wonder? What is your current prayer request or area you are surrendering to the Lord?
- How did God care or provide for you in practical, or in supernatural ways?
- How did God use you to bless someone?
Psalm 68:5, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
To the fatherless: How did God “Father” you?
To the widow: How did God care for you as your Defender and covering now that your husband is gone?
May 2019 be a year of treasuring and trusting the truth that God hasn’t left your side. He loves you and He cares. God will provide, protect, and be near to you as you ponder.
December 18, 2018
Christmas is one week from today! Perspective Ministries has personally cared for over 55 widowed moms and 110 fatherless children during this giving season. While it is a blessing to light the world of the widow and her children at Christmas, it is equally important to carry her throughout the year helping to lighten her load. Please consider making a donation towards Perspective Ministries, as we meet the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of widows and their children in 2019.
Our Giving Catalog is full of ways you can care for the widow and fatherless through Perspective Ministries.
December 8, 2018
The cold days and long, dark nights that are characteristic in the winter leave the widow feeling like the winter of her soul may never end. We have all had seasons like this, when the biting cold outside matches the biting hurt we feel on the inside. Without the comfort and love of her husband, the winter months have way of intensifying the loneliness and grief the widow feels. Thankfully, God gives snow in the winter as a beautiful picture of His grace, and before we know it, the snow melts away reminding us that there is life after death. We invite you to be another picture of grace for the widow and fatherless this winter season. This list of practical ideas, compiled by widows, will help you bring light into otherwise dark places. For all you will do, we thank you!
October 1, 2018
- Winterize her home:
Service her heating system and change air filters.
Check batteries in smoke detectors and fire alarms.
Trim tree limbs that could be hazardous in a storm
Provide flashlights and candles in case of power outages
Change light bulbs inside and out
- Help her prepare for the year ahead:
- Give your time to preserve her memories:
Offer an evening or weekend to help her sort through pictures—having someone to share these special moments with is a blessing.
Take time to write out a specific memory of her loved one, and deliver it to her.
- Thoughtful ideas:
Buy her warm and cozy things:Winter gloves / scarf / warm socks / blanket—something to snuggle up to on the chilly nights
Candles—these always have a way of making the holidays warmer and brighter, especially on the cold and dreary days.
Fill her pantry with love: Tea, hot chocolate and coffee are always a safe bet.
Stock her freezer with casseroles and soups.
- Give her a good book:
“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley
- Send gift cards: food and gas are always needed
- Care for her fatherless children
Babysit her kids or come with an activity to share with her and her children
- Provide help with medical attention, if needed
- Call: Be available if weather isolates – make sure she is okay.
- Write: After the rush of the holidays, it’s easy for loneliness to set in—send a card letting her know you are thinking of her. Hand-written notes may be her greatest friend.
- Visit: Invite her to join you at the movies, for dinner, or take her to run errands.
Dear God, please show the warmth of your love to this precious widow during the winter months. Thank you that you promise to be her covering. May she experience your protection in the storm and provision from the cold. As she faces the year ahead, remind her that your plans are good, you are with her, and you will help her. Amen.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
At the time of my husband’s unexpected death, I had eight children under the age of ten. The first four months were filled with business meetings, phone calls, and visits from well-meaning friends, family, and even strangers…oh and chaos – complete grace-filled chaos! The normal rhythm of our daily life had been turned upside down.
There were days that I would focus on something I had planned to do, like teaching school, when suddenly, I found myself doing something completely unplanned! It was that “grief thing” of keeping busy so I wouldn’t feel the pain. Or, it could have been the “grief brain” that removed the ability to focus on anything at all. Can you can relate? In my flurry, I would often enter a room to put something away and before I walked out again, I was involved in something I hadn’t ever planned to do.
For example, one afternoon I had the idea to separate a set of bunk beds into twin beds. I zipped into the room to perform this simple task without any thought at all that it would be something beyond my physical capability. My husband built the kid’s furniture to withstand any storm, apparently except for my grief attack. As I pulled the top bed off, I quickly realized that this was not a task to accomplish by myself. I was stuck! I couldn’t get it down to the floor, and I couldn’t get the bed back on top, and I couldn’t leave it hanging in mid-air. Frantically, I looked around only to see my precious little ones staring up at me willing to assist in any way they could. With the help of my two sons (ages 4 and 5) and my determined six-year-old daughter we managed to get the bed to the floor without hurting the babies in the process. The only damage was a minor hole in the wall and a broken bed. That little fit of independence brought out so many emotions. My inability to complete a simple task brought about anger I has buried deep inside. What do I even do with all this unresolved anger? Who do I resolve it with? Is unresolved anger what leads to depression? Oh my, what an emotional price to pay for the new bedroom arrangement!
Taking care of 8 children was always a bit overwhelming, but now, without my husband, I felt shaken, pressed down to my wits end, and running over. Actually, I felt that I had been run over. Even though I knew God was working through it all, life was hard, oh so hard. Change was taking place – physical, emotional, and spiritual change. Many days by 5:00 p.m. I felt that I just couldn’t make it through the rest of the day. However, with a houseful of small children, stopping wasn’t an option, so I pushed through. Soon dinner would be over, children bathed, and we would be onto my favorite part of the day – devotions and listening to the hearts of my children. Often, I had to confess my own wrong attitudes, a poor choice of words, or an action I didn’t think fully though. I loved to hear my children share their hurts and struggles, as well. (Side note: this simple but planned time of communication brought more fruit to our family more than anything else we do.)
Even though I had help here and there with the whole single-parenting thing, I still felt that my yoke wasn’t easy, and my burden was not light! Didn’t the Bible offer that promise somewhere? I asked God to give order to each day and to the large task ahead. I worked hard to be brave and courageous, but honestly, I was overwhelmed and exhausted. As I evaluated where I was in the timeline of my life, there were some very difficult years still ahead of me. I didn’t have in-house babysitting, I had a bunch of toddlers that need lots of consistent training and encouragement, and the adjustment to doing all of this alone was still very new. If God’s yoke was easy and His burden light, then I must be wearing the wrong yoke, right? I felt confident that the old yoke would feel so much better than my new one! But, I couldn’t take this new yoke off! (Weren’t yokes made for two oxen? I’m sure if it was for one ox, the load behind was smaller than 8?!)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB).
Easy? This was anything but easy. Light? In my own strength my new load was heavy. Rest? I didn’t think that would be possible for decades. I found myself pulling into a shell. I wanted to hide, disappear, and pretend that this had not happened. God kept telling me this was not a shell but a cocoon. To get the easy-light-rest that the Bible talks about, I had to trust God and learn from Him in this season, so that I would come out a beautiful butterfly rather than a dead caterpillar. When I looked up the meaning of the word easy in this text, I learned that the Greek meaning was much different than one would think. Easy is not the opposite of hard, but rather means to be fit for use, virtuous, and good. The process in this spiritual cocoon would be worth it all, and it was. His faithfulness proved that His burden is light when received with humility from His hand. God was performing a work of grace with this yoke upon me.
His easy, purposed, fit-for-use yoke is always tailor made to fit just as He planned–for our good and His glory.
September 14, 2018
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Dear friend in the battle between life and death,
You are so precious and loved in the sight of God and many others. I know, life can be so hard, but you are not alone in the world, God is with you. In your darkest moments call out to him, and he will rescue you. Do not sit alone in this darkness either, find a friend, a counselor, a doctor and ask for help, you are worth helping!
The battle you are in right now is not only emotional and physical, but spiritual,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Ephesians 6:12
Satan wants you to choose death, but God desires that you choose life. Your life is worth living. Ponder His words today and let them sink into your heart. You are loved!
Life is a gift from God
Psalm 139:2-3, 13-16 “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways…For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Isaiah 49:16 “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands…”
God did not create us for death
John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
God desires that you choose life
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
Life doesn’t stop with death
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 5:28-29 “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-57 “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
Life allows for you to experience God’s faithfulness
Isaiah 38:18-19 “For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness. It is the living who give thanks to You, as I do today; a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness.”
Psalm 30:8-12 “What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? Will it declare Your faithfulness?”
Life trusts in God’s plan and allows God to be God
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.”
You are deeply loved and will be missed!
Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
There is purpose in your pain when you turn to God
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Life reaps reward in heaven
I Corinthians 3:13-15 “…each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Destroying God’s temple is a serious matter with loss of reward on judgment day.
1 Corinthians 3:15-17 “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.
Life allows restoration and forgiveness
I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God says to CHOOSE LIFE!
Romans 6:13 “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
September 13, 2018
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Q&A with kids who have lost a dad from suicide
The night before my husband chose to take his own life, I heard Psalm 68:5, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Because God charted the next season of our lives with this promise, I was able to gently repeat this promise to my children as the way of sharing this life-changing news with them,
“You have a new daddy—God promises to be a Father to the fatherless!”
It was hard to tell this information to myself so I knew right away that God had entrusted me with a huge responsibility in telling my children. They would always remember this pivotal moment of their lives. God was entrusting suffering into their lives at these young ages as well. We were really crossing a holy moment and the sovereignty of God and His promises would be our foundation.
When telling children difficult information, I heard it once said that you should insert only what the suitcase of their hearts can hold. It is important to tell your children the facts but be careful to share only what is age-appropriate. My older children (ages 8, 9, and 10) were told as little as possible, but enough for them to feel they had sufficient information to satisfy their curiosity. Telling my younger children that daddy died was all they could handle. They did not need to know how he died because they just could not understand at the ages of 1-6. Sadly, like sharing the secrets of sex, people will talk, and you want to make sure that you are the one to delicately and lovingly share the details of this news with your children.
Grief over a suicide death is complex and will manifest in many ways for children. Grief may lie dormant for years until their understanding catches up with their reality. I knew my children would eventually want and need to know the story of their dad; therefore, I took time to write out the story and details of his choice to the best of my understanding and experience and let it sit until it was time to share with them. I took time to share this information with them before they left home after high school. It is never easy to discuss but is important enough to share so that the enemy doesn’t continue to use this scheme against future generations.
What would I do differently today?
I’m not sure that I would change anything as I prayed that God would direct my steps and I believe that He did. I found comfort in the promise that God was their father. I trusted also that He is the great counselor even though God will often use others to speak into a life. The impact of this sin is deep and long-term. Getting wise counsel from the Word of God is important. My daily prayer for my children is that God would restore their soul from their walk through the valley of this death.
How are the children impacted by all of this?
Here is a Q&A with my children almost twenty years after the suicide death of their dad.
Q: When and how did your mom tell you your dad committed suicide?
Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I think I learned details 3 days after he died. Slowly, over time I think I got a lot of my information by asking questions. It was probably by 5 years after his death that I had a good idea of what happened.
Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/age 28 today): I remember knowing that Daddy had killed himself right away – maybe that very night? For sure within the first week. I don’t remember the exact way this news was shared, but I do remember that she answered every question we had and didn’t try to hide information from us. I was 9 years old – I think age plays into this in a big way. A 4 or 5-year-old probably can’t process this at all, but an older child needs to be given all the information that they are able and willing to carry at the time. Also, if mom doesn’t tell them, they will probably try to find out from someone else.
Christieanna (age 6 when her dad committed suicide/age 26 today): I think I overheard the police say that they found him, and he had committed suicide. When mom told us that we had a new daddy, I don’t remember her saying he had committed suicide, but I already knew. I’m not sure I actually remember having anyone tell me the facts. I remember the way in which she told me and my siblings, but as far as the mechanism of injury, I’m not sure where I got that from. I assume a sibling told me, or maybe mom did that night and it was just a blur.
Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): Really the only thing I remember is all of the kids sitting together in the downstairs living room and she came down and said, “Kids you no longer have an earthly daddy, but God is your Father now.”
Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): I do not remember exactly when my mother told me the details of my father’s death. I have asked questions of deeper levels as I have grown and matured, and my mom has always answered my questions to the best of her ability. I think a child needs to know the truth when he/she is ready. Some children are ready to receive information sooner than others. Just tell the truth. For me, being told the truth young was more important to me than figuring out the truth later and feeling like I’ve been lied too.
Micah (13 months old when his daddy died/age 20 today): She told us over time, I think she also helped us to understand through books that explained death in a way we could understand. I also remember her answering our questions whenever we would ask.
Q: What was your first response?
Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I don’t remember what I said, but I remember being surprised as I did not really understand. Suicide was, and always has been, something that seemed super intentional instead of something that could be accidental.
Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/28 today): I was shocked, devastated, and so confused. I felt completely blindsided by his death, and the way it happened.
Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): Sadness at the loss but not much more than that because I was too young to understand what any of it meant.
Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): The first response is shock. It’s very surreal and hard to explain. Initially you just run the words through your mind and try to break down what you’re hearing, then you go through the waves of emotions. That first year really, you don’t hardly feel anything, you just keep thinking he’s going to walk in the door.
Christieanna (age 6 when her dad committed suicide/age 26 today): I remember my first response was watching everyone else fall apart. My older sisters were wailing, the younger siblings started crying too, but I think that cried just because everyone else was. I don’t know if the younger two actually understood what was happening. I remembered that my mom was strong, and we were about to start down a life altering journey together.
Q: How have you handled this reality as time went on?
Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): It’s a wound that never quite heals completely. It’s always tender. To this day, I can’t hear, see, or talk about suicide without cringing. I think a lot of that is ok, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to become calloused to it. As I’ve gotten older, the gravity of his decision weighs on me. It’s much more distant as a child, but as I’ve grown, it becomes more tangible, like you can actually feel the reality of the decisions he made.
Christieanna (age 6 when her dad committed suicide/age 26 today): I have handled the reality of my dad committing suicide differently over the years. When I was younger, I questioned God a lot and asked Him how it could be love to take away someone I wanted to be there. I also questioned why we missed the signs, and if we could have done anything differently. I remember I would always daydream about what I would have done if I was there with him, and how I would have attempted to talk him out of it. My ideas weren’t that bright as a six-year-old, but I knew I would tell him he was worth it and that he was enough for us. I thought of different ways I would have stopped him if given the chance. I think that was my way of trying to cope by feeling I could have stopped it, and not fully understanding that the Lord had allowed it and I would not have been able to change any of it.
As time went by, the suicide part became less and less of a big deal, it was more just the fact that he was gone period. I think the reality of him killing himself is a push for me to make sure I let people know they are loved, and it’s help me see that there are signs everywhere. People are hurting, and one smile could change what they decide to do later on in their day.
I think that because I have faith, I actually do understand. I understand that my dad was in bondage, and genuinely thought that it would be easier for us if he weren’t there. Do I agree? Absolutely not, but I do understand his thinking, and hope that the next person I know who starts down this path will understand my thinking in that they are worth being alive, loved, and living.
Isaac (age 5 when his dad committed suicide/age 24 today): Probably easier than some. God is faithful over all. Yes, it’s a horrifying experience to lose a parent, but I don’t think it’s healthy to continually live in our past, but to learn from it. Accept what’s happened and allow God to continue to write your story.
Amy (2 ½ when her dad committed suicide/age 22 today): I handle it differently depending on the season. I’ve never been mad at God, though. I know He is sovereign and took my dad away for a reason that I may never understand. It has always hurt me that he thought he was not worthy enough to live though. Nobody should have to feel like that.
Q: What have you learned regarding your dad’s choice after 19 years? What have you learned regarding God and this choice?
Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I have struggled with the intentional selfish abandonment of it and that has affected me in ways I’m still learning. I do not feel much compassion for his choice at all, although I can empathize with him. I trust the Lord fully and know that he could have saved him, and in his sovereignty chose not to. I agree with God that he made the best choice for daddy and for our family. I am at peace with what happened and continue to trust the Lord and have the comfort of knowing that he holds all of our futures in his hand.
Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/age 28 today): I know now that my dad’s choice was multifaceted – the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. His hand in my dad’s choice cannot be overstated. He lays traps of temptation and comes like a lion to devour. I also know that my dad was completely responsible for his own choice. He was in bondage to sin that he was not able to escape, or maybe he didn’t hate it bad enough to do the hard work of repentance and surrender and learning to really walk by the Spirit and not carry out the desires of the flesh – I don’t know. Now as an adult, and parent, I see a level of selfishness in his decision that I never thought of as a child. I also know that at the end of the day, the sovereignty of the Lord rules over ALL. Even in this, God was there – He did not turn a blind eye, nor did He cause evil, but He was there and I know He cried first.
Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): From my dad’s choice I’ve realized the implications of sin. Sin will never let you go apart from the saving grace of Jesus. And if you let it, you can be turned over to it. I think with my dad, God allowed him to be turned over to his sin because time and time again he made the decision to turn back to it. I believe he allowed himself to get into a pit of darkness and lies that he was almost a walking dead man, and the action of suicide was just fleshing that out. I’ve learned that God is sovereign and if you can’t “trace His hand, trust His heart.” He really does do all things for our good and His glory… that’s a big thing to say 18 years later because that was preached to me in the moment, but I’ve now lived long enough to validate the truth for myself.
Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): I’ve learned that if you don’t take care of what may be eating away in the inside, it has the potential to ruin your life. I know dad was a good man who just let the enemy continue to feed a lie to him that he eventually believed. Regarding God it’s the same as above. He is sovereign. Everything that happens is within His plan. I’ve not been much of one to question ‘why’, as much as I have ‘what now.’ So now that I know what happened, how am I going to use that to live my life tomorrow. How will I use what God allowed to minister and lead others?
Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): Over time I have learned the severity of my father’s sin and how it has affected not just him, but many people linked to him. It’s a big deal, and I know it was a spiritual battle for him. We all deal with sin, and we will all be accountable to how we fought against sin. My dad’s story has stood as a lesson for me and how I will personally fight sin. But through my dad’s story, I have been able to use the ugly parts to reflect on the beautiful parts of God’s forgiveness and grace. It’s given me opportunities to warn others against the dangers of meddling in sin. God receives the glory for the good and bad in our lives, and that’s where I have landed after 19 years. We do not have permission to write our own stories, but we absolutely do have the ability to control how we respond to our adversity and what we do with it.
Amy (age 2 when her daddy committed suicide/age 22 today): I have learned that it is dangerous to mess around with big sins like my dad did. I’ve learned that it never gets easier telling someone that my dad killed himself. I now know that I am always going to grieve his death through the different seasons I go through. And I learned that God allows certain things to happen in order to glorify Himself and draw me closer to Him.
Q: What do you feel is the best way/time to tell a child of this kind of death of a father?
Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): I think the least amount of information at first is the best, although all information should be shared over time. Any amount of info, large or small, will be difficult to process. I have had friends and family members share very gruesome details about the method my dad chose over the years, and of course have come across too many movies and TV shows in which this is common. I always sympathize with other people who have lost family members this way, and I’m thankful it was probably not a super gory discovery. Although regularly I think of the men who found my dad and pray for them, I doubt they have been able to fully recover from finding him. This info is always gutting, always devastating. But I would rather hear it from family members first instead of finding out myself later. I don’t think it matters what method a person chooses, the hardest part is that it is a decision, not an accident.
Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): Make sure you have support around you. Maybe wait until family comes in to town etc. It was very helpful having people in the house during the first few months. It would’ve been very dark, lonely, and sad if it was just our family.
Isaac (age 5 when his daddy committed suicide/age 24 today): Probably just tell them straight up and as soon as possible. You don’t want them to hear rumors or stories from anyone else.
Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): Knowing God is sovereign and in control is important to grasp as a child. Understanding that it was God’s plan for me to be a fatherless young man was important for me to know right away. The details of the story can come later when I’m more matured if/when I need them.
Q: What would you want to say to a child who is just starting on this journey?
Abi (age 10 when her dad committed suicide/age 30 today): That it is not your fault, there is no way you could’ve prevented it, even if he could go back in time and do this or that differently there is no way you could’ve stopped it, nothing you could’ve said to change his mind, no behavior or you could’ve done differently to make the circumstances different. It will be OK, the Lord will use time to heal.
Kayla (age 9 when her dad committed suicide/28 today): I would encourage you to press into God the Father, through His Word. Open your eyes and heart to see His mercy, goodness, and love for you. Meditate on His lifegiving Word, and let it heal you. He will make everything beautiful in His time, as you trust Him, love Him, and walk in His purposes.
Brandon (age 8 when his dad committed suicide/age 27 today): I’m so sorry. You have been given a very heavy weight to carry. But don’t use it as an excuse or a weakness. Let it make you stronger, embrace your pain. The storms make us stronger. Don’t blame God, He has the best heart and loves you. There will come a day where you will be grateful that you went through this. Or, you can be a victim and end up a statistic, you make that choice.
Evan (age 4 when his daddy committed suicide/age 23 today): Don’t ever accept that your story is anything other than GOD’s story for YOU. We are intricately designed and given a story that we are responsible for using for the glory of God. Find mentors and Godly people to help mold and grow you. Dig into God’s word to find out how He (capital H) wants you to use your story for His glory and YOUR good!
Amy (age 2 when her daddy committed suicide/age 22 today): I would tell them I’m sorry and that no one should have to go through something like this for any reason. I would tell them that no matter what, the Lord is going to be by their side every step of the way and hold them when they can’t take steps for themselves. I would tell them that believe it or not, God is sovereign. That they are not in this alone. I would tell them to not get angry at God – getting angry will not bring your loved one back to life. Go through the motions, but don’t resent God. He is there FOR you, BY you, and WITH you at every single moment.
Micah (13 months old when his daddy died/age 20 today): Press into Jesus, it’s okay to have hard times – when you do, talk to your mentors and peers and don’t hold it in!
Related blog articles:
The Seduction of Suicide
The Sin of Suicide
September 12, 2018
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Within days of my husband’s suicide death, people started to give me their humble, maybe not, yet inaccurate opinions of where my husband would spend eternity! Yes—they really had the boldness to tell me that my husband would spend eternity in hell because of his choice to take his own life based on wrong theology! The circumstances of his death were horrific enough without the voice of others amplifying the tormenting questions that were already flooding my heart and soul. When my precious husband walked into eternity would he hear God say, “depart from me I never knew you” or “welcome home my prodigal son?” To this day, I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I do know this, if my husband had a saving covenant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing—not even suicide, would separate him from God as he was saved by grace and the blood of Jesus Christ is able to keep him.
Willfully terminating human life is a sin. The real question is, is that sin mortal – is it unforgivable, consigning the victim to an eternity outside the presence of God? The short answer is no, absolutely not, based on the Word of God.
Suicide can evoke intense theological discussion. Fortunately, for the most part today, “No major religion teaches anymore that death by suicide automatically means hell, but this merciless thought persists, inferring that God punishes people for being sick. In our broken world, unspeakable tragedies occur daily, but that doesn’t mean God causes or approves of those tragedies. Sadly, some grieving people have turned away from God as their ultimate source of comfort because of such misguided belief, generally following this line of reasoning:
(1) Murder is acknowledged as sin; (2) Suicide is self-murder; (3) Suicide is the last action of the person committing it, so (4) the suicide victim goes into eternity unforgiven and therefore is automatically eternally lost.
I suppose that follows a certain logic, but it reaches an unscriptural conclusion on at least two counts:
- Eternal salvation is not based on our works but on the work of Jesus Christ!
- There is a way we can renounce our salvation, but not one of the listed requirements includes murder!
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:17, 16).
“But to him who does not work [for his own salvation] but believes on him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. . . Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven and whose sins are covered, blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin” (Romans 4:5-8).
“Even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
We are saved by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and there is nothing we can do to contribute to the saving process. A person who genuinely knows Christ as Savior, cannot by a single act annul the covenant of God to save his eternal soul! AMEN!
God’s Word teaches differently from those who believe suicide is the sin that separates one from God:
“What the shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-37).
It is rank foolishness for any person to declare that they know what transpired between the victim and God in the minutes or split seconds before they slipped into eternity. No one knows how God may reveal Himself to the person in that moment. The scriptures plainly teach that those who call upon the Name of the Lord will be heard! Who can conceive of a victim who would not cry out with His final breath, “Oh God! Help me! Oh God, Save me!” It is not in the hand of any human to declare they know with certainty the future of any suicide victim without knowing what took place between God and that individual.
At the same time, it is vital that we acknowledge that salvation is promised to those who believe in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to absolve their sin. The same God who made that promise also said that those who reject the sacrifice of His Son will perish. It is a serious matter. Even though suicide is a forgivable sin that will not separate one from God if they have a saving relationship with him based on the blood of Jesus Christ, choosing death over life is the wrong choice with consequences.
I submit that the “real” sin of suicide is dereliction of duty!
“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. Plans handmade for each person by the Lord Himself. Plans to bring each person to a good end and not a disastrous one! Plans which can be subverted and never fulfilled because of a human choice to surrender to deception!
The Bible says that each of us when we enter heaven will have everything we have been and done exposed openly in the presence of the Lord, and all those things will be tested by fire – meaning our “gold” won’t burn but our “wood” will (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
The Bible says that it is possible for everything we’ve done could be classified as “wood, hay and stubble, and burned in that examining fire yet the person will still be saved. Eternal salvation is not based on our works but on the work of Jesus Christ! Perhaps the scene will look like this: Jesus says, “I love you and receive you from the pain of your failure. You are forgiven, and you may enter into the presence of the Father, but everything you were to do and be for Me has been lost. I call you to account: why did you waste a moment of the life I planned for you to have?”
The Bible says that God will “wipe away all tears from our eyes.” What occasions those tears? I think it is when we fully see what we have irretrievably squandered and fully know that “way of escape” made for us which we refused. We are accountable for every choice that we make. The day will come when we will all answer, “What have you done with the life I gave you?”
Sin is sin, each with its own set of consequences. Suicide is just that—a sin, but not the unpardonable forever separating sin. The consequences of this sin deeply impacts others possibly for their lifetime. As stated in the previous blog on The Seduction of Suicide, Satan is often involved in the decision against life because his mission in this world is “to kill, steal, and destroy.” If you struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. We want you to know and experience the truth that Jesus came to give life abundant!
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” Deuteronomy 30:19.
September 11, 2018
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. This is the bottom line in suicide.
Suicide and suicidal thoughts are at their core an activity of Satan. The Word of God teaches that our struggle is not against flesh and blood. That means that the battle for life and death is often an invisible, yet very powerful battle against the greatest forces of darkness, “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We are at war with Satan himself. Scripture tells us this powerful adversary is crafty, a liar, thief, schemer, and the great accuser.
Sample notes from those who believed Satan’s lie:
- Mom and Dad, I can’t seem to cope with the problems I have as a teenager. You don’t give me any help and no one else does. I can’t face life any more – Teenage child
- Honey, I know I haven’t done my best, but I have tried. I can’t face life any more – take good care of the children – defeated husband and father
- I don’t want to embarrass you, Mom and Dad, but I’m in the kind of mess for which there is no solution and no hope. I cannot go on living like this any longer – 25-year-old single
- If I looked a certain way, people would like me. I’ve been rejected by many; I will just reject myself – Lonely adult
Suicide is submission to a deceiving spirit, a spirit that urges its victim to surrender because of emotional and physical pain he can no longer endure—pain usually stemming from humiliation or hopelessness. It is Satan’s main aim to make those who are in a dark spiritual battle feel ashamed and guilty. He is relentless in speaking lies to our mind and soul: you have really messed up, you will never be forgiven, and you will never be free from this turmoil. Not only will Satan lie, but waits for the opportune time to bring destruction in our lives. He is happy to wait years and even decades as he strategically plans his victory.
Death, even at one’s own hand, is finally presented as a valid option and the answer—the only way to experience freedom from bondage. In fact this self-focused mindset causes the struggling one to believe the deceptively wrapped lie that this is a self-LESS choice–others will be better off without you. The seduction from the devil is the shallow “promise” that death will be gain when, invariably, it will be great loss!
Satan does not play fair. We must be aware of his schemes and the lies. He uses fear of all types, abandonment, rejection failure, generational sin, and even statistics. We must fight for truth both for ourselves and those around us. We do not have to be victims of our circumstances or even of the generational sin. Just because depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide have had victory in the family line does not mean you must carry this baton. Every family has sin, all the way back to Adam in the garden. Romans 3: 23 is clear, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Ezekiel 18 teaches that each man must choose truth for himself and not succumb to the sins of their fathers. Don’t sit back and wait for the shoe to drop or the ax to fall. God’s Word teaches differently, He equips us to fight, really fight, against Satan’s schemes. God grants us the power to observe and then choose to not do likewise:
Ezekiel 18:14, 17 “Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not likewise . . . he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father’s iniquity, he will surely live.”
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but Jesus came to give life abundant.
Do not fight this battle alone, please seek help if necessary.
Know and believe God’s truth from His Word.
- Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.”
- Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who is against us?”
- 1 John 4:4 “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”
- Revelation 12:11 “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.”
How to help one who is struggling:
- Believe their cry
- Point them to the one who can give them hope – Jesus Christ
- Seek help from a professional source and point them to a professional source.
September 10, 2018
(If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Suicide Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States, please call 1-800-273-8255)
Dear precious widow to suicide,
I am very sorry for the death of your husband. I am deeply grieved with you over the choice your husband made to take his own life. For many, you were blind-sided and caught completely off-guard, unaware of the deep turmoil your husband faced bringing him to make this painful choice. For others, you fought this spiritual battle with your husband almost daily, and now the fight for him is over and a new and difficult journey begins for you.
A myriad of huge questions needing clear answers tormented me for years. Why didn’t I respond differently to his cries? Why did my husband believe the lies? Why didn’t God answer our prayers? Surrendering to the truth that God is sovereign eventually became my resting place. By faith, I continued to trust that God is good, loving, kind, wise, and all-knowing even in the midst of this unthinkable act.
It is easy to accept the fact that we have nothing to do with our own birth and existence – we did absolutely nothing and here we are experiencing life in the world today. The Bible also confirms that death is in God’s hands, “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up” (1 Samuel 2:6) or “No man has authority to restrain the wind with the wind, or authority over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8). But what happens when man intervenes and takes his own life? Is God in control of this as well? If God is sovereign, and He is, then suicide messes with the neatness of our thinking because suicide really is a messy topic without clear-cut answers. Since God is sovereign and did not intervene Himself into the war for my husband’s soul, how can I find comfort in this One who has sovereignly ordained such suffering?
There is a good chance that until you have experienced extreme pain and suffering in life, you have never thought much about the sovereignty of God. Most of us do not until God’s plan interrupts or disappoints ours. Even though we declare God to be God with our mouths, in our hearts we often struggle with the fact that God is God and we are not. Books have been written on the sovereignty of God covering a variety of topics – disease, natural disasters, evil, and man’s choice. For the one impacted by the loss of a loved one to suicide, the sovereignty of God over and in their choice is generally a subject to avoid. God’s sovereignty can become a wall that will push us away from God or a safe haven we run to when nothing else makes sense.
Here are 4 scriptural truths that help with the understanding and acceptance of God’s sovereignty:
1. God allows physical death, He just does and we have to come to terms with that. This may be by natural means, consequence of poor choices, through Satan who comes to “steal, kills, and destroy,” or at the hand of man but Satan doesn’t have the last victory over death.
2. We may not always understand the mind of God. Joseph’s story is one of mystery when we read that he suffered for two decades while God was at work: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive’” (Genesis 50:19-20). Over and over in scripture God reminds us that he is in control and we are not and His ways are higher than ours:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
3. God allows Satan to attack us. In the story of Job, Scripture tells us that Satan asked permission from God to attack Job and God granted his request. The response of Job is what offers the most encouragement and comfort in light of God sovereignly allowing Satan to intervene, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).
Much like the story of Job, God sometimes allows Satan to work in our lives. Take Peter in the book of Luke, for example, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31) It is encouraging to note two purposes in this suffering: Jesus Christ prays for the strengthening of our faith even when Satan has access to our lives, and God will use our trial to strengthen others.
4. We live in a broken world. The dominion, rule, and ownership of the planet which God had given to Adam and Eve, along with their allegiance, transferred to Satan when they chose to know his evil. What originally belonged to God by creation rights transferred into the hands of a self-made evil one!
If humanity was to be saved, it would be because of a choice man freely made! God would not force us to come back into relationship with Himself, but He would make the way available if man would choose to come! Yes, the world was broken, but God had a plan for good.
Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, volunteered to become the payment to Satan for humanity’s redemption! God, through Jesus, took all sin into Himself, and paid the debt of sin Himself so that humanity could be freed from the genetic of sin! There was a way made for humanity, in very fact, to be born again!
“For Jesus, who knew no sin, was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21). In effect, God declared wherever there is a person anywhere on the planet who will refuse the leadership of Satan and who will choose Me again, I will come to him, and I will receive him. Having paid the debt of sin, I will personally forgive every person who chooses Me to be his God.
The rule of choice – free will – has never been revoked. All of humanity is free to make deterministic choices about his or her own life! Deuteronomy 30:19 reminds us that the choice is ours, but encourages us to make the choice for life,
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
May you feel the presence of God as you wrestle through the subject of life and death under the sovereign hand of God.
You may never know if God appointed death or allowed Satan to bring death, but you can be confident that God is with you in the valley of the shadow of death.
August 20, 2018
I cut the grass because I love yard work and exercise. ?
I cut the grass because my husband is gone and it’s my turn to take over the yardwork. ?
I cut the grass because I cannot afford a lawn service. ☹
I cut the grass because the grass needed to be cut. ☹
Any of these you? Let’s give it up for all women out there who enjoy cutting the grass! For the first 40 years of my life, I had not experienced this joy (it’s all about perspective, right?). I cut the grass for the first time two years after my husband died. I know, I know, I was a spoiled woman! What can I say? My dad didn’t believe that women should cut the grass and neither did my husband – women worked on the inside and the men worked on the outside. But now someone had to cut the grass! I knew my 9-year-old son would soon be old enough to take on this responsibility, but I wanted to have a feel for what that would involve.
On that particular day, I had cooked several pots of spaghetti, lasagna, baked homemade bread, conquered many loads of laundry, orchestrated Saturday house cleanup with my eight small children AND added cutting the grass to my Widow Mom resume, all by noon! The adrenaline was flowing for sure. I remember proudly wondering how many men could accomplish that much by lunchtime?! In fact, I was singing, “Anything you can do I can do better!” Only God knows what kind of character He was trying to build in me (or tear down)!
Oh, if you could have witnessed my grass-cutting escapade – for the first half of my sloped front yard, I cut row after row without the self-propelled lawn mower in the self-propel gear! My neighbor had a good laugh watching me struggle to push the mower across the grass. When I saw him standing in my yard, I praised him for maintaining my lawn the first two years, letting him know he was receiving a lot of prayers at the moment – prayers of gratitude because I didn’t have to cut the grass up to this point. With that, he asked if he could show me just one little feature on the lawn mower, you guessed it, how to put the mower in the self-propel mode! I couldn’t believe it. WOW, I could dance while I mowed now and felt like I could cut his lawn as well! I even discovered that I liked cutting the grass! And I learned that sanctification is messy. This process was more about the work God wanted to do in my heart not in my yard. How often do I move through life on self-propel without allowing God to do the job for me? His yoke is easy when I wear His yoke.
Although my sons will tell you a different story because 19 years passed by before I cut the grass again! By the way, my sons don’t believe women should cut the grass either, but it’s hard to tackle the job long distance.) As an empty nest approached, I decided to come out of grass-cutting retirement and take on this job once again, plus I decided to take on the weeds too! Yes, I have weeds in my yard, but not because I like the look. I first tried complaining to the company that sprays my yard periodically that the side yard was full of “unwanted plants,” their response didn’t help much, “Ma’am, we don’t spray the wooded areas.” Sadly, there were no “wooded areas” in my yard, just obvious neglect. So, rolling up my sleeves, I went to work spraying, pulling, and fighting off this enemy in my land. With the help of my strong sons, we whipped the yard back into shape with the expectation to receive the Yard of the Month award.
Crazy, but I felt God speak to me about taking on this responsibility. He gave me a few guidelines, if you cut the grass, you must have a good attitude—no woe-is-me, sad-Sally defiance creeping into my attitude. I also heard him say that I could handle this responsibility and yes, the exercise would be good for me, ouch! So, with that in mind, I made it through with a few lessons learned.
First, thankfulness! Thankfulness for the years my husband, neighbors and sons provided for all my lawn care needs—it’s amazing how a little hands-on work will amp up your appreciation. Second, I learned that I CAN cut the grass and I can like it! (It’s really not much harder than vacuuming the house, but oh for the day they come out with a Roomba for the yard!) Widows have the opportunity, yes note the word opportunity, to do things our married friends do not, and that’s okay, and sometimes fun, albeit stretching! God knows that we have needs – He sees them all. He will show us what we can and cannot do. When the responsibility is beyond our ability (as it was for me for many years), He will provide another way. And finally, as you take on new tasks keep your eyes out for the weeds, you don’t want all that hard work to be wasted by unwelcome guests – like it is in our hearts, no truly good work can be done if we do not allow God to tame the weeds in our hearts making us a vessel useful for his purposes! Although a “prize” would be nice, an “atta girl” or massage at the end of the day, the satisfaction that I did a job to the best of my ability as unto the Lord is enough.
August 13, 2018
“For we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I am fully known.” I Corinthians 13:12
God brought my husband and I together confirming our decision to marry every step of the way. We both began our journey together knowing that it was “of God” – a gift to both of us.
Because of the many ways God united us, we chose to have our wedding bands inscribed with, “Everything God does, remains forever.” We knew in our hearts that God was bringing us together for a purpose…it felt almost supernatural. However, through the years I had forgotten that this verse was inscribed on my wedding band. Soon after my husband took his own life, I remembered and was disappointed that my “forever” didn’t match God’s “forever.”
The saying goes, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings…” But what happens if the fat lady doesn’t sing in your life and it’s all over (or so it seems)?! What happens when you are journeying down the road of life and the road ends before your journey? Or what if you get on “the road” before you are ready to begin your journey? My marriage was over in many ways before it really started. I took my wedding ring off thinking, maybe I had missed God completely! It is interesting how we are ready to ask for a refund on our ticket just because “the fat lady doesn’t sing!”
Five years after his death, God asked me to re-direct my focus back to my original trust in Him concerning my marriage. I was ready to write this season off as a mistake, but God gently began to show me that eight children represented a lot of “forever” taking place because of my commitment unto the Lord in marrying my husband. God encouraged me to put my wedding ring back on, re-direct my focus, and trust Him.
After making this decision, I took the big step to take the ring to the jewelry store to be re-sized for my right hand. The young girl at the counter was very kind to help me and patiently listened to my story. We finally decided on the new size. I gulped a bit when she announced the price to have this job done, but I heard God say, “it’s okay.” As I was leaving the store, I had an idea. I wonder if I could put eight small stones around the single diamond to represent the “forever” from my marriage. I asked to speak with the master jeweler to see if it would be possible.
When the jeweler came out to help me, his first comments were, “You’re Bobby Apon’s wife!” I had only been to this jewelry store a couple of times and I had never met this man before. I replied, “Yes, I am.” He went on to share with me that his family had prayed for mine over the last four years as the Lord brought us to mind. “Ma’am…at least once a month we are encouraged to lift you and your family up to the Lord.” Of course, I stood there in a puddle of tears, overwhelmed by God’s grace in our lives.
I shared my story and idea with this man asking him if he thought it would be possible to add stones to my ring. Originally, I wanted emeralds in my wedding ring, but we chose not to add the extra expense as a young couple—we would do this later on. He said he would look into the possibility and let me know when I came back to pick up the ring.
I received a call, “Mrs. Apon, I have a thought on your wedding ring. I took your idea to add stones to your band to other businesses in the area, sharing your story with them. Several business owners have chosen to join together to have eight emeralds added to your ring. This will be a gift from the Lord.” I was overwhelmed and humbled. He went on to add, “the ring should be ready by May 17th the date I considered my new anniversary when God became my husband.
ONLY GOD—my Husband, would care enough to give me a new wedding ring with “forever” inscribed again on it, now with a much deeper meaning. A symbol to me of His love and continued light in the darkness. I am so blessed! We all have wants, desires, and wishes. Often these are related to real needs, but many times they are not. If we feel that we are “in want” it is because a need or desire is going unmet. If a need is unmet or we are in want, we must trust God. Ultimately, God is able to meet our needs. If He chooses not to, we must trust His wisdom. God, is trustworthy and can be trusted with your forever.
July 25, 2018
Showing love to a widow can be scary and intimidating. Below are some things to consider as you step out of your comfort zone to be present in her pain:
July 16, 2018
- She has experienced the death of her husband in exchange she received the title of widow. Offer words of condolence, “I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. I cannot imagine what you may be feeling or dealing with.”
- She is in pain, physically and emotionally, creating the “widow’s fog.” She may look good on the outside, but there is a lot going on inside. Many men don’t know how to respond to their own wives and children in the context of pain, much less, another woman. Deal with her in an understanding manner, even if you do not understand.
- She is in a season of suffering. Challenges experienced by the widow and fatherless are personal and enduring, requiring individualized and long-term solutions. You can’t fix all her problems, but take what you are good at and see if it can be used to help her (organizing, cooking, writing a card, making a call).
- She is not always thinking clearly. Therefore, she may need for you to share information with her slowly. Writing down important information will help prevent misunderstanding.
- She may be afraid. She is afraid of her future, afraid of how she will live without her husband, afraid she will make a mistake, afraid she will not know what to do, afraid she will be taken advantage of. Be gentle and kind in your approach towards her with integrity.
- She may feel somewhat desperate because of her distressed situation. If you came to help with a plumbing issue, don’t be surprised if she asks you to move a piece of furniture. She needs help and doesn’t think of the proper protocol. Consider going the extra mile.
- She may have financial means to pay for home repairs, counseling, or other needs. This is great! However, she is still alone and may have needs money can’t buy. Be sensitive to her new status of life without a husband. Many widows are more than happy to pay for services, but desire trustworthy service providers.
- She experiences loneliness. Therefore, she may appreciate having someone to talk to. Showing compassion for her is more important than checking off your box for serving the widow.
- She needs help with clear expectations. Outline the job that you intend to help her with, preferably over the phone first. If you are pressure washing her driveway, make it clear this is the purpose of your service. If you are volunteering services, let her know from the start. If you would like for her to pay, make this clear when you set up the appointment.
- She should not be stereotyped. If she has a fresh manicure and Starbucks cup in her hand, don’t assume she is not managing her money well. Thank God for provision and care for her in ways beyond immediate needs, without judgment.
- She needs hope. A few words of hope are invaluable. Affirm that God is there even though you may not know how He will be there to meet her needs. Take time to pray with and for her.
- She is created in the image of God, therefore has immeasurable worth and value. Treat her accordingly in every respect.
In widowhood, envy is a huge enemy to healing. I remember in the early years of losing my husband looking around at all the married couples in my woe is me funk wondering why they got to be married, enjoying endless physical intimacy, and I didn’t.
Sexual bereavement is grieving the loss of sexual intimacy with your husband. This loss is not something that is openly shared or even recognized by most but is real. We are created as sexual beings. Sex is a gift of God to the married couple. Whether it be the quick kiss before he heads off to work, the long embrace after a long day, or the sex that unites the two, the death of your husband brings with it the death of your sex life, as well. For some, this sexual death is welcomed because that area of their marriage was abusive, painful, or non-existent. However, for many, experiencing this loss is devastating.
Matt Chandler describes the act of sex as a “mingling of souls.” To be physically, intimately, and deeply together with another person. You may not have thought of it in this way, but sex is emotional and spiritual as much as it is physical, which is why God gives clear guidelines for the handling of it.
Upon the death of a husband, every new widow is forced to ask, “How do I unmingle my soul from my husband?” For many, even myself, this was a terrifying question to ask. How do we transfer all delight, emotion, and physical dependence not onto another man but God himself?
In marriage sex becomes so natural; we get to know ourselves and our husband in ways that only we share. So it’s not surprising that there is no easy switch off after their passing, but yet the switch must be made. If we refuse to recognize our loss, especially in the area of sex, it will be easy for us to try to meet those needs in another man—which we all know in the back of our minds is only a fake and temporary fix. The switch is at its core a physical one, yes, but the deactivation and transfer of trust has to be in your mind. So how do we fuel our mind to accept our new circumstances and how do we protect ourselves from our unmet physical desires as we “un-mingle?”
The most important thing in any circumstance that we find ourselves in is to know what the Word of God says. God has given us His Word so that we may be encouraged and equipped for literally anything we come across, grieving sex and transitioning back to a sexless and single life (hard but true) is no different.
After losing my husband it was hard for me to accept being single again, I had been married for years, had more kids than I could count on one hand, and I felt too “mature” to be single again. But as I opened God’s Word, I was surprised to see that God presented singleness positively. Paul, the great man of faith that he was, was single and content. He was not lacking any maturity because of his singleness. He even went so far to say that he wished others were single like he was. His relationship status didn’t define is relationship with God.
“But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I… But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit.” – 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, 32–35
“Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.” – 1 Timothy 5:14-15
God has given us relationships to satisfy our desire for emotional and physical intimacy. Paul says, yes, go ahead, remarry just don’t do it for the status change. And don’t rush it. Remain in the time of singleness and see where the Lord calls you, be devoted to God in both body and spirit. I love the way John Piper says it,
“Singleness has been a noble and courageous path for ministry ever since Jesus and the Apostle Paul chose it “because of the kingdom of heaven.” It is no sign of weakness to want to be married. It is normal, and it is good. The courage comes when you sense God calling you to singleness (for this chapter of your life) and you accept the call with zeal and creative planning for His glory.”
As you remain in this time of singleness/“unmarriedness,” it is important to set wise physical boundaries. Sex has been so biblically normal, and even encouraged, with your husband, but the Bible is clear, sex outside of marriage is wrong. Hebrews 13:4 gives us a chilling warning, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” And again in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God…”
God knows what a special and unique gift sex is. He doesn’t set up boundaries to harm you, but to protect you from following a strong desire into sin, especially in the lonely days after losing your person. Boundaries are important because you know when you are crossing the line. Write these down and live by them, invite accountability into your life, and allow God to lead you.
These are boundaries I still follow to this day. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are alone with a man. If you feel a pull towards a man who is off-limits (married), run. If you feel a pull towards sex outside of marriage, run. Conversations must stay pure. Avoid chatrooms where mingling will lead to destruction.
Oh yes, men will come along that you will be attracted to. Perhaps he reminds you of your husband or appears even better. Be careful not to confuse love with lust (yes even for women) – lust is wanting something you don’t or cannot have.
Being aware of yourself is another thing I found helpful during my early single years, and even still now. I was young, I had children, and my hormones were raging. I am sure you feel the same. When we are in those child-bearing years, grief may be heightened at that “special time of month.” Don’t settle emotionally or physically. For this season, sex is off limits. This doesn’t mean it will never be again. This was a verse I used to quote to myself,
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Romans 13:14
Then there’s the things we can torture ourselves with, the movies, the romance novels, the flashbacks of our intimacy with our late husband, or the lingerie that used to make us feel so pretty. To all that I say beware. While this may feel good in the moment, mustering up the feelings for sex will only make life without your partner more difficult.
The temptations are all around. Just as one fasting from chocolate must remove all signs and smells of it from their home, you must do the same. While many enjoy watching Hallmark movies, these may not be a positive way to spend your time. Even though there is beauty in these wholesome romances, they may cause your heart to long for what it cannot have right now. When these lonely moments come creeping in, thank God that He allowed you to experience the gift of physical intimacy and then set your mind on other things. Discard old lingerie and enjoy wearing comfortable flannel loungewear for now.
Above all, trust God in this season of your life. He knows exactly what you need when you need it. When we focus on something we cannot have, we will be miserable. If we long for what is not, we will rob ourselves of what is today, singleness as a gift of God for this season. As hard as that is to grasp sometimes, I have seen God be faithful to me over the last 19 years. It isn’t always easy living without a husband, while women around are happy and in love, but God always hears my cries. He became my husband and provided for me every step of the way. He will for you, too, no doubt!
I’ll end with another great line from John Piper,
Why must I live my life alone? I do not know. But Jesus Christ is Lord of my life. I believe in the sovereignty of God, and I accept my singleness from his hand. He could have ordered my life otherwise, but he has not chosen to do so. As his child, I must trust his love and wisdom.”
June 26, 2018
First know this: The one who chooses suicide is experiencing torment – to them, death was their only alternative. Their struggle was not against flesh and blood. Even Christians will wrestle against the forces of darkness.
- Don’t minimize the loss – they are not better off without their loved one and they do not need to find someone better at this moment. Don’t think that because they have other children or “have so much to be thankful for” they are not in deep grief.
- Don’t give uninvited advice. You could suggest, “Have you thought about …?”
- Don’t over spiritualize the loss – he’s in a better place, God will use for good, you are better off. Proverbs 25:20 says it perfectly, “Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar on soda, is he who sings songs to a troubled heart.”
- Do show up, even if you are afraid to do or say the wrong thing. Your physical presence in their time of hurt means more than many words.
- Do listen actively – speak less, listen more.
- Don’t ask about details of the death or discuss how they died or what method they used.
- Don’t try to relate because you know a story of someone else who “did the same thing” and give the graphic details. Even if you share similar circumstances, every story is unique.
- Don’t place blame – did you see this coming, this is genetic, is he bi-polar, someone probably said something to “put them over the edge.”
- Don’t make negative comments about the one who died. It is never ever okay to say negative things about the one who died to one the person who is grieving.
- Do allow your friend the gift of telling their story over and over again. “Suicide is awkward to talk about with well-meaning people who asked how your parent passed away. But because it wasn’t a “taboo” topic in our family, I never felt ashamed or embarrassed to explain my dad’s story to others. I was thankfully able to recognize that this was his choice, not mine.” – Kayla
- Don’t make assumptions – he/she is in Hell, what a selfish thing to do, they must have not had faith in God.
- Avoid gossip, slander, and malice – these are the enemy to healing.
- Don’t try and fix the problem because you can’t.
- Do allow them to grieve while you hold their hand as you would when visiting a friend laying in a coma in the hospital bed. You would never try to physically fix them, but would sit by their side until healing takes place.
- Don’t attempt to explain even when the one left behind is wrestling through explanations. There are many sides and perspectives to the story. It is never helpful to try to diagnose the reason the loved one chose to take their life. Just love the grieving person and be there for them.
- Do allow them to wrestle with the same questions. It will take a lot of patience, love, prayer and time for them to work through this.
- When necessary, carefully – very carefully, speak truth in love at the right time (it may be months or years later).
- Don’t evaluate their process in grief giving them a report card or grade on emotional status. Emotions will change and it really does take time.
- Do know that suicide is numbing. It is brutally painful and so shocking that it leaves the grieved stunned for years. “I was very young when Daddy passed away so my memory isn’t clear. It took several years before it finally began to sink in that I’d never see my dad on earth again. As we all know, those first few years are always a blur. But now as I look back, I can see there was a peace surrounding me even in the midst of the horrible things that had happened. It was almost as if God was saying, “It’s okay, I’ve got this and you.” So even though we experienced an incredible “bad,” I could see God using it for good the whole time.” – Isaac
- Do trust God with them. Trust that God is sovereign over all. Suicide is not the unpardonable sin.
June 11, 2018
While many across the country honor dads in June on Father’s Day, our family has chosen a different time for remembering Father’s Day. The date of my husband’s death is the day that God became Father to a dadless group of children, according to Psalm 68:5 that declares God to be a Father to the fatherless. Because of this truth, God gave our family a creative way to remember this day in our lives by leading us to consider our Remembrance Day as our new Father’s Day, replacing the traditional Father’s Day recognized by the world. Yes, we may have skipped Sunday School here and there to avoid the pain of making cards for a dad who is no longer here. We have acknowledged that in the midst of suffering there is a holiness wrapped around the acceptance of God’s sovereignty. Even though the day is tender, we have incorporated lots of traditions to celebrate this day making it sweet and memorable. If you have turned to God as Father, perhaps you might want to consider re-locating Father’s Day on your calendar as well.
My husband’s specialty was pancakes, so we would go out for breakfast to enjoy pancakes or eat them at home – I wanted them to always remember eating smiley face pancakes with Daddy! Because we didn’t have pancakes that often, especially colored ones, this is a treat! Nineteen years later, the tradition remains.
Since we were eating ice cream at the exact time of my husband’s death, we have included that “bittersweet” memory into this day of remembering. We head to the ice cream parlor at the end of the day to celebrate that God is sovereign. He saw the big picture – our family enjoying ice cream cones while daddy was making the choice to end his life.
Children love balloons, so I would buy balloons, one black and one of “their color” (each was assigned a color at birth – it has proven to be a great way to organize things with 8 kids, and they all think that color is now their “favorite” color). For devotions that night the releasing of balloons symbolizes two areas of reflection:
- Black balloons – I ask them to dig in their hearts to uncover any unforgiveness, anger, or pain that might need to be released. Tears are shed, and hearts are cleansed once again.
- Colored balloons – we thank God for all the ways He has been a father to them over the last year. We offer up a sacrifice of praise thanking Him for His faithfulness. He really is a good, good Father.
We cry – we laugh – we remember. From time to time, I would share with my littlest ones, and now my children share with their children, a story they need to know, “Once upon a time there was a real daddy living in this house, but God…” They listen intently as if I were telling a fairytale. I love to tell how God became their Father, how He is working all things together for good and how He uses everything for His glory! And perhaps there is a similarity to the ole fashioned fairytale…they lived happily ever after!
May 22, 2018
Denial seems like such a safe state to be in. Perhaps this is why the body goes into a coma when a painful physical injury occurs, so it isn’t fighting with itself in order to heal.
For the first few months after a husband’s death, it is common and somewhat necessary to walk in denial instead of reality. Around the 6-9th month, however, the “shell of denial” will begin to break off leading the grieving one to make a choice – stay in the coma of denial, which would eventually lead to emotional death or wake up and begin to deal with the pain.
One morning during my quiet time, God took me back to my labor and delivery days. I heard God tell me repeatedly, “Embrace the pain!” Every time I would hear this admonition I would ask, “What?! Did I hear you right?” and “How?! Can I embrace the pain without it hurting?” Because He knows me, He gave me an illustration that was easy for me to relate to – childbirth. Moms, remember back to the last weeks of your pregnancy. You were ready to pay any price and do anything to deliver that baby, right? You are elated when you feel the first contraction! Your heart jumps and you’re overwhelmed with excitement. The time has finally come! You readily embrace the first few contractions because you know that you will soon hold the fruit of your efforts.
Now remember the delivery, three or four hours in, or even minutes for the fortunate ones, you are still ready to do what it takes, but the experience of labor is beginning to lose its thrill. You cringe when each contraction comes along, and at times, you even may want to resist the contraction. Your body goes through transition and the pain becomes intense. You really aren’t sure you are going to make it. It is at this point the doctor or midwife comes along and gently, but firmly says, “You need to embrace the pain to deliver the baby. Relax and give into each contraction and that will bring forth your child!”
“What? Embrace the pain?!” At the moment, embracing pain seems impossible, but the reward ahead moves you to do your best to “relax and give into the pain.” At that point, your body is free to do what it needs to do and before you know it, you are holding the fruit of your labor!
Emotionally, the grief experience is similar. We could deny something has happened and that God is at work. We could continue to walk in an empty shell (or impregnated one), but God has encouraged us to go ahead and relax, embrace the pain and watch Him bring forth life.
For me, this meant accepting the reality of my huge loss, and yes, that hurt! Much like the doctor or midwife though, God can be trusted. When He calls us to accept the pain and press into the new life He wants to bring, He is trustworthy. In the “birth pains” you now feel, focus on the promise of God that He is with you even in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). I know it might not feel like it today, but God is at work and will bring forth the fruit of your labor in the land of suffering.
“God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:52
April 23, 2018
Job is a familiar book of a man who lost everything that was precious to him, his family, his possessions, and even his own health. Many people came to comfort him, but no one understood what he was really going through. His comment during his peak grief season was, “Miserable comforters are you all!” While your widowed friend may not experience the depth of suffering that Job faced, she may identify with several aspects of his pain, feeling as though she is the modern day Jobette. Your part in her story is crucial. She needs friends and family to offer their support and presence, not opinions and misinterpretation of God’s work in her life. Let’s learn from Job’s friends to avoid their mistakes. Let’s comfort her in ways that deeply bless her, knowing that one day she may turn around and comfort as she has been comforted (1 Corinthians 1:3-5).
How to be Jobette’s Friend
How to serve the widow in a way that will best serve her and her children:
March 28, 2018
- Do not compare your experience with death and grief with hers. Do not say that you understand what she is going through. Her story is her own. While you may have had an experience with death, she really needs to know that you do not know exactly what she is feeling at this time.
- Do not evaluate her grieving process during the first few years. Many well-meaning friends and family will issue a report card assessing her progress–she is grieving too much or too little. Grieving takes time no matter how hard one tries to speed up the process. She does not want to be graded and watched as if she were living in a fish bowl.
- Do not expect her to say thank you. She is appreciative but overwhelmed. Not only is it difficult to remember to express gratitude, but she may not have time with all that she is now dealing with. She may also feel uncomfortable being on the receiving end of life.
- Do not assume she is prideful because she does not ask for help. Often, she doesn’t think to ask for help, doesn’t know who to ask for help, or feels she has asked for help too many times.
- Do not get offended if she forgets an important celebration in your life. Grief is hard work and consumes her energy. She will return again, but it will take time.
- Do not consider her personality change as permanent. She is not able to focus on your own problems now. She may appear to be self-focused, but this will not be forever. While you love her unconditionally, you are modeling the comfort she will offer to others one day.
- Do not make empty commitments. If you say you will cut her grass, make sure to follow through.
Oh, what a joyous time it is to watch and experience the birth of Spring! The miracle of life after death is simply glorious. Although the widow may feel encouraged by the warmth and beauty of spring, frost may continue in her grieving heart. As society makes plans for getaways and summer fun with their loved ones, her monotonous routine remains the same–alone. Alone to figure out ways to dust off her home, make repairs, and manage her lawn. Perhaps God would use you to lighten her load by considering meeting one of these practical needs.
1. Help her with spring cleaning:
- Service her air conditioner, change the filters, maybe even leave a few extra filters for the months ahead.
- Give your time to help her clean out a closet. She may be ready to tackle her husband’s possessions, but she may need someone to hold her hand and wipe her tears during the process.
- Offer to dust ceiling fans and window blinds.
2. Help her usher in spring:
- Deliver a spring bouquet just to let her know you are thinking of her.
- Plant flowers in her yard as a reminder that when her focus is on God, she can bloom where she is planted.
- Trim her bushes or spread fresh pine straw.
- Provide consistent lawn care through the warmer months.
3. Remember her on Mother’s Day!
The job of the widowed-mom is hard and heavy. One out of every four children in the United States is being raised by a single parent, most of which are single moms.
- Pampering baskets, including gift cards for a manicure, pedicure, or massage, will help her take care of herself.
- Ice cream and/or restaurant gift cards will provide her and her children with a fun outing.
- Send notes of appreciation, affirming a job well done!
4. Include her in your summer outings and plans:
- Invite her to share a time of fellowship with you. Keep in mind that the widow often feels like the “3rd wheel” when couples gather together. Perhaps you could invite several widows to join you.
- Consider giving her the keys to your beach or mountain home, trips away can be very healing for the grieving heart.
5. Provide for a day trip or weekend away
Gift cards for food and gas will help make a simple retreat possible.
6. Offer transportation
- Drive her to medical appointments
- Help with running errands
- Pick her up for church or a community event
7. Enlist a trusted handyman for home repairs
Make arrangements to come and conquer her “to-do” list—paint a room, re-arrange furniture, or fix that leaky faucet.
8. Provide summer fun for her fatherless children.
Loving on her children is a gift to her. One of the main concerns for the young widow is her children.
- Summer camps
- Butterfly gardens for kids, reminding them that life comes after death
- Day passes – White Water/Aquarium/Movies
Out of all the widows we surveyed, their greatest ongoing struggle is loneliness. Take time to pick up the phone to let her know she isn’t forgotten.
Widows love a hand-written note just to let them know you care.
Give your time away. Be intentional about planning a time to listen to her, keeping in mind that adult conversation may be limited in her new season.
Dear God, thank you for showing us that life comes after death. We thank you for Jesus Christ and His resurrection from the grave, so we can experience new life in Christ. Please remind the precious widow of this truth. May she experience life after her own season of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Please let her feel your Presence as she waits on you in this season.
“They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.” Job 29:23
March 12, 2018
The alarm still goes off around 5:45 a.m. I learned early on that the first fifteen minutes after this sound are the hardest, so daily I jump out of bed and into the shower rubbing off sleep forcing myself into another new day. With make-up applied and wet hair wrapped in a towel, I walk through routines that have become the non-negotiables of my life for years.
Darkness invaded my life as a storm when I was widowed at the age of 38 with eight children under the age of ten. There were diapers to change, people to feed, education that must continue, business to tend to, questions inside and out, problems to solve, grieving little ones and, not to mention, a very sad mommy. Numb physically and emotionally, deep inside I knew I could not allow myself to grow numb spiritually. Have you ever been there? Are you there right now? It’s in those moments, we need God more than ever before. For me, chaos threatened order every single minute of the day, except for the protected time set aside to spend with the Lord. Only God knew clearly what was happening with my life in this season. He was the potter, I was just clay.
“But now, O LORD, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8
As soft clay easily takes on the imprint of an object pressed into it, our hearts are similar in receiving impressions. Because of this, we must protect our hearts against the temptation to take on the impression of the world, especially in our grief and chaos. In my desperation, time had to be guarded to seek God. Wet hair? Oh yes, because my children knew that the day didn’t start until they heard the whir of the blow dryer.
So what does it look like to find rest in this storm? For me, rest comes through routine. Not regimented rules and regulations led by the drill sergeant of the heavenlies, but spiritual disciplines or habits that allow for me to experience God’s filling of grace (His divine inspiration upon the heart and its reflection in life).
Three admonitions stuck with me through the busy years of raising children and now in the season of leading a ministry. It is my hope that these disciplines won’t be another “to-do” on your list, but rather you will find that seeking time-out prevents burn-out adding vibrancy and meaning to your life. I pray that one day you will be able to look back, like I do, and see how these grace-filled habits are still shaping you each day.
Disciplines of a grace-filled widow:
Let grief simplify not complicate your life:
1. Divert Daily
A. Morning quiet time: Make the Bible your first read. The Word of God speaks, and there is no replacement for the Bible. Avoid the temptation to read words of men before the Word of God.
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. For you will go out with joy and be led forth with peace…” Isaiah 55:11-12
Suggested resources: One Year Bible, Audio Bible app, or a Bible Verse for the day. Do not go numb spiritually. God’s Word will not return void.
B. Prayer: Cry out to God. Talk to God before you talk to others.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” Jeremiah 33:3
- Pray for and with your children by name every single day. If you don’t, who will? “You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry…” Exodus 22:22
- Listen for God to speak. Give yourself the gift of a few minutes in silence after reading and praying. Allow for the still, small voice of God to be heard in your heart.
C. Routine: Develop a schedule for babies and toddlers. Routine brings security. Maintain a reasonable schedule of pace and rest for yourself knowing your limitations. Less is best in the first two years. When the load is heavy, consider two questions that have helped me to navigate my way when my next step was unclear:
- What brings you the greatest joy?
- What gives an atmosphere of peace? Peace is the umpire of God. If we do not have peace in a decisions or direction we are headed that should be our red flag of caution to re-think our path. “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15
2. Withdraw Weekly
A. Sabbath Rest: Make time to do something you enjoy as a gift to yourself. Turn off the world.
B. Sunday Worship: Find community in the house of God with believers in Jesus Christ. We were created for relationships. We need to surround ourselves with others for support and accountability.
3. Abandon Annually
A. Retreat: Once a year alone. From the start many people suggested that I get away, but to take off alone . . . really alone was a scary thought to me. After a few years and on the verge of parental burn-out, I finally asked my parents if they would trade houses with me. They willingly agreed to come to my home for one week each summer to care for my children, while I spent time at their home away from the routine. This was a great gift. I relished in the time to sleep, stare, study, shop or just be.
B. Vacation: Once a year with family. This doesn’t have to be a luxury experience, just intentional time away with your children
Rather than allowing life to shape your disciplines, let disciplines shape your life.
Make them your own, get alone with God,
you won’t regret the rest that is found there.