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.
February 19, 2018
Another tragedy saturates the pages of our news feed causing us to gasp, mourn, wonder and question, “What’s this world coming to?” Many people share their answers to this question with gun control leading the polls in the solution to the depravity of the human heart. While school massacres might not have taken place in ancient days the root of the problem remains, we need Jesus. We desperately need Jesus to give us new hearts.
One article sub-titled, “How one school teacher took time to look out for the lonely,” caught my attention as I was working on this blog addressing the topic of loneliness. Weekly, a 5th grade teacher took requests from her students for seating in her classroom for the upcoming week. By secret vote, she also asked for nominations of the most exceptional classroom citizen. She wasn’t trying to create a new seating chart or highlight the student of the week, but rather to discover the lonely children in her class. The article shared how the slips of paper with information submitted by the students uncovered patterns that would highlight the lonely children and those struggling to connect with others. “Who is going unnoticed in the social life of the class? Who is being bullied and by whom? Who is not getting requested by anyone else? Who can’t think of anyone to
request? Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated? Who had a million friends last week and none this week?” Apparently, this teacher experienced the heartbreak of Columbine and determined that “all violence begins with disconnection. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness.” https://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/stop-bullying-strategy/
God created us to need community or companionship. In fact, His response after creating Adam was that it was not good for him to be alone, so He created a helpmate suitable. We were made for relationships. There are times in life where we are alone, yet we don’t feel lonely, and then there are other times where we may experience loneliness even in a crowded environment. What makes the difference? The emotional response to our circumstances.
Rick Warren shares four causes of loneliness:
- Transitions – when change brings about a loss which brings on a twinge of loneliness: 1st day of school, graduation, a new job, fired or laid off from a job. Life is a series of transitions.
- Separations – when we are isolated from those we love. During travel, illness, or death.
- Oppositions – when under attack by others you fall prey to loneliness.
- Rejection – when you feel that you have been betrayed or forsaken.
As widows we are now alone in many ways: physically, socially, emotionally. There is no longer a warm body by our side or a cheerleader in the stands. Over time, our community changes or disappears causing even the most independent person to experience feeling alone as never before. You may be alone in raising children, alone as the breadwinner, alone in making decisions, and living alone, but you are not completely alone. God promises in Hebrews 13:5:
“I will never leave or forsake you.”
Danger comes when the normal, uncomfortable emotion of loneliness becomes negative or bitter as it attaches itself to our situation causing on-going pain in being alone. It is common to feel lonely and sad without the companionship of your husband. However, Elisabeth Elliot who experienced widowhood twice offers this challenge,
“When you find yourself alone, there is potential to be lonely unless you have an awareness of being a part of something grander and greater than yourself.” She goes on to confirm that being in God’s arms does not exclude suffering. “We must trust that even our suffering is under God’s control. In fact, love revealed on the cross does not exclude but must include suffering.”
Loneliness is real, and it hurts. Suffering is a wilderness experience–that’s the purpose. In your walk through this valley there are practical lessons to be learned one of which might be to consider how to handle loneliness. We cannot do anything about our suffering in the season of loneliness, but there is something we can do with it…
How to Handle Loneliness
- Accept it as a gift from the Lord – this time of solitude may only be for a season. We don’t know the purpose for the pain but give purpose in this season. Get to know the Lord in ways you never could or thought possible. “Peace comes not through the removal of the pain, but in the acceptance of it.” (Elisabeth Elliot)
- Embrace it as a gift to yourself – There are things you can do alone that you cannot do with others. In marriage, you were created to be a helpmate suitable to your husband. When this responsibility is removed, enjoy a season of spending time doing what you could not do easily when your husband was by your side: read, write, sleep, spend time with others, or spend time getting to know the Lord in a way you have never experienced before.
- Give it away as a gift to others – reframe your lonely days and re-direct your focus. Don’t spend time thinking of your aloneness. Look for ways to give your time away. If you are a busy widowed-mom, invest in your children. Enjoy being the one to make decisions with your children and lead them well. Encourage another single mom or the elderly. The widow with the last coin gave her all away. The widow with the last oil surrendered in obedience to the Lord. Yes, her only son died in the process, but she witnessed his resurrection from the dead in the end. (1 Kings 17)
“Now she who is a widow indeed, and who has been left alone has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day.” 1 Timothy 5:5
“A Father of the fatherless, a defender of the widows. God makes a home for the lonely . . . only the stubborn and rebellious dwell in a parched land.” Psalm 68:6
Perspective makes a difference in your loneliness: Alone = physical status vs lonely = our mindset. God’s word teaches that He makes a home—a shelter—for the lonely, and only the stubborn and rebellious live in a parched land. You don’t have to be alone in your loneliness. Choose today to come into His shelter for the lonely.
January 31, 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!
1. Winterize her home:
- Service her heating system and change air filters.
- Check batteries in smoke detectors and fire alarms.
- Bring firewood
- Trim tree limbs that could be hazardous in a storm
- Provide flashlights and candles in case of power outages
- Change lightbulbs inside and out
2. Help her prepare for the year ahead:
- Financial planning
- Tax preparation
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Give her a good book:
“Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley
6. Send gift cards: food and gas are always needed
7. Care for her fatherless children
- Babysit her kids or come with an activity to share with her and her children
8. Provide help with medical attention, if needed
- Be available if weather isolates – make sure she is okay.
- 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.
- 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
January 22, 2018
Hi, friend! Somehow you have made it to this blog, and we believe there is a reason you are here. If you, like many of us, are here because your family and world has been shattered by the loss of your husband, we are so sorry for the great pain and confusion you are walking through right now. We can’t say we know exactly what you are going through, but we’ve been there, and boy do we understand the deep, all encompassing pain of grieving “our person.” If you are a friend or family member trying your best to be an encourager on this dark and sometimes scary road, thank you. Every widow is in need of you.
Here’s the deal, we want you to know grieving wife, single parent, fatherless child, friend or family member walking this path with a new widow—you aren’t alone! This community of widow warriors is for you. We cry, we sometimes scream, we’re honest, we parent, we work, we try day by day to pick up the pieces and put them back together, but most of all we hope. We hope for a new and brighter day, we hope for real and genuine smiles to creep back onto our faces. And we hope in Christ, who brings great purpose to our pain and who promises to be the father to the fatherless and the defender of the widow!
You’ll meet several other people like you along this road, but we’re the women you’ll hear from the most. We hope our honesty and walk in widowhood encourages you. We’re here for you.
Hi, friends!! My name is Alex. I may look 18, but I am actually 26 and throughout my two and a half decades of life I have held a lot of titles—daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, fiancé, wife, widow, and wife again. Phew! That’s a lot. I have experienced joys unspeakable and heartbreak unfathomable. The reason I write to you is not because the shock value of my story or that I have gained some great wisdom at my young age; the reason I am here is because God has never taken his hand off of my story. It won’t always look the way I thought it would look, it won’t sound the way I always thought it would sound, and it probably won’t be what my girlfriends and I dreamt up as kids, but God is faithful. This isn’t a feel good, my life is gonna rock because my husband died and I deserve it kind of attitude. It’s a humble reliance on a God who promises through the mountains and valleys that he is doing something in and through us that will quite literally astound all who are watching, including me. The best part about this is that if you are a child of God, he promises to do this with your story as well.
We’ll get through this together! One moment at a time.
Hey y’all! I’m Emily, and I’m just an ordinary girl born and raised in the foothills of North Georgia. Not too long after my husband died in 2015, I gave birth to our son and began my surprisingly sweet journey as a single mom. My one beloved is Jesus, who has faithfully carried me through widowhood and continues to do so.
Little things that make me happy are crocheting, the warmth of sunshine, reading in the stillness of night, and hearing my son laugh. I’m excited to share some laughs and tears together as we learn more about who God is and how to walk through grief in a way that will draw us deeper into Him.
Hello, my name is Lori. God made Himself known to me when I was eight years old, and I have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior for 50 years. As a child, all I ever wanted was to be a wife and mother. The Lord gave me the desire of my heart first when I married my husband.
We chose to trust God at His Word, “Children are a gift of the Lord, happy is the man whose quiver is full,” and God filled our quiver with eight precious children. Sadly, when my children were all under the age of ten, my husband made the choice to take his own life. The night before his death, Psalm 68:5 “I am a defender of the widow and Father to the fatherless,” was quoted in church. God’s Word planted its seed of life in my heart charting the course for the next season of my life. His perspective was my anchor as I faced life as a widow raising eight fatherless children. Immediately God moved into our lives in His promised position as Father to the fatherless and Husband to the widow.
I have remained very content as a widow for 18 years believing widowhood is my calling. It is my joy to mentor and disciple other ladies who are just starting this journey.
At age 46 I lived a comfortable lifestyle with my ophthalmologist husband and our two sons. Both boys would graduate within ten days – Jeff with an aero-space engineering degree from GA Tech and Mark from pre-med studies at Emory University. In the fall, Mark would go to Columbia Medical School in New York City. Life looked good – and felt good except for a deeply entrenched undercurrent declaring that some unidentified thing was very wrong.
That June night in 1986 found me in a revival service in a nearby city. My heart knew peace in spite of the undercurrent. I believed God was in control of my life. Roughly two hours later, I discovered my husband’s body on the floor of our bedroom – dead. I would learn over the next two days from a drug overdose!
This year I will have been widowed for 32 years. I live alone, have six grandchildren, whom I totally adore, have graduated from seminary, and have two post-graduate degrees. I am now a staff pastor in the church I attend. My heart is at peace. I know God is in control of my life.
Life is real. Hard stuff happens in life and must be gotten through. The secret is not to walk it alone. I look forward to sharing my journey with you, and learning from yours.
God is real!
December 28, 2017
Perspective Ministries is making a difference in the lives of many widows and fatherless. Meeting practical and emotional needs allows us to direct the focus of the widow and fatherless to the One who is able to satisfy their deepest need. Scripture commands us to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress. Perspective Ministries counts it an honor and blessing to visit on your behalf. Would you donate now?
Testimonies of gratitude:
- I was struggling with depression and stress so I went home to read and take a nap. A knock came at the door, and God sent His angles and said, “Don’t you fear.” I opened the door to Perspective Ministries. God knew exactly what I needed and when I needed it. I was lost for words and thankful to all. When His work is done we are in shock at times. I had asked God for a blessing at the end of the year to just have a break through and make all ends meet. I feel like God has heard my cry – Kearha
- Perspective Ministries is truly a light that shines a path toward hope for those of us still early in this journey – Reagan
- I’m thankful to Perspective Ministries for reminding me that God is good. Even when I didn’t share that perspective for a while, it was still true. I’m finally feeling the warmth of His love like the sun on my face. Rejoice, rejoice, the angel said, for good tidings of great joy. There is still great joy to be had – Maggie
- This support group is so God-focused and uplifting. It fills my tank and then I can turn around and go back to serving the Lord and my family with more joy – Juli
- A huge thank you to the amazing WidowLife support team at Perspective Ministries! Lori and her incredible team support widows through supporting their repair, home-needs, and Bible study. Their team cleaned my gutters, blew leaves off my roof, mowed my lawn, bagged my leaves, put lights on my house and gifted us with a beautiful wreath for my front door and money for Christmas gifts to my girls! WOW! The practical hope Perspective Ministries gave truly helps our family experience the joy of the Lord during these holidays – Mishael
Individual gift bags given to the widows.
Your gifts and prayers allowed us to Light Their World in many areas of need:
Comfort and Care:
143 widows were encouraged and comforted on their birthdays, Remembrance Day of the ones they love, and at tender seasons throughout the year.
Home maintenance and other services:
30 widows received practical help in the following ways: legal service, home organization, repairs, gutters, pressure washing.
Volunteers helping with lawn care and Christmas lights.
New Widow Resources:
35 women new to the season of widowhood received a gift packet of encouragement at the beginning of their journey.
The Lord allowed us to intentionally bless the widow during holidays that feel extra tender:
- Valentine’s Day ~ 35 new widows received blankets symbolizing God’s covering over the widow
- Mother’s Day ~ 24 widows and 51 fatherless children received Bruster’s gift cards
- Christmas gift bags ~ 36 widows received a gifts along with a check to buy Christmas presents for her children. 61 fatherless children were blessed.
- Christmas lights ~ 25 homes were decorated with outside Christmas lights to literally light their world
Discipleship / Mentoring
50 women were discipled and mentored by Perspective Ministries. We are excited to announce that we will launch a second support group for widows in January in the Douglasville area.
Total widows served in 2017 = 170
Total widows impacted by Perspective Minsitries year-to-date = 200
November 21, 2017
GivingTuesday is on November 28th, just one week away.
GivingTuesday is an international day of giving as the holiday season begins, which seeks to benefit non-profit organizations around the world. Following the popular shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday launches the season of charitable end-of-year giving.
Join thousands of generous givers across the country to donate $25, $50 or $100 to a favorite non-profit such as Perspective Ministries.
Your donation of any amount will be used to meet the needs of the widow and fatherless with the goal of directing their focus to Jesus Christ, the One who can satisfy their deepest need.
Executive Director, Perspective Ministries
P.S. Our passion to care for the widow and fatherless is similar to yours. We seek to walk alongside them through the valley of the shadow of death. Your support on GivingTuesday will enable us to make a difference helping to Light Their World. Donate now.
November 1, 2017
We are very excited to share with you our first Christmas giving catalog!
Choose a gift for the widow and fatherless that will help Light Their World. Click here to donate.
August 30, 2017
We are so very sorry for those of you who have family and friends suffering the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey. At the present time, Perspective Ministries is seeking ways to help the widows in need due to this present storm. As we all watch the news of this sad disaster taking place in Houston, I can’t help but relate this calamity to the widow and fatherless with the call of God in James to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress. They have experienced death bringing disaster into their world.
- It is the passion of Perspective Ministries to come in during their storm bringing relief.
- It is our mission to remain after the storm has passed meeting their on-going needs.
- It is our challenge to encourage the widow and fatherless leading them to put their trust in God.
God is always at work! We have had an action-packed first half of the year. Please continue to pray for the ministry as God is bringing many widows and fatherless of all ages, denominations, and walks of life inside and outside the church to the attention of the ministry who are in need of care. The James 1:27 command to visit the widow and fatherless in their distress comes immediately after James issues the challenge that one not only hear the Word of God, but be a doer of the Word. We feel confident that you desire to help. We feel sure that you want to be a doer of the Word when it comes to the care of widows and the fatherless. Perspective Ministries stands ready to assist you to act on this important command to bring relief to those experiencing distress.
Young widows in the WidowLife Support Group. Their journey takes T.I.M.E. Trusting In the Mystery of Eternity
In the last six months Perspective Ministries has been active in the following ways:
- 65 widows and fatherless are impacted every month through mentoring, discipleship. Bible study and the WidowLife support group. Please pray the Lord allows us to duplicate the young widow support team to meet the needs of young widows around the city of metro-Atlanta.
- Legal and financial assistance has been made available.
- New widow packets have been delivered to 20 new widows offering comfort and hope during the transition from wife to widow.
- Special projects have reached larger groups of widows at tender times.
- Practical needs have been met: purchased tires, provided home repairs and organization, and worked with volunteers to prepare cards of encouragement for tender seasons.
Perspective ministries is growing quickly and we need your help to continue the story and ministry mission. We are super excited about the upcoming first time ever catalog of gift ideas for the widow and fatherless. We will also bless the fatherless and literally Light Their World by decorating their homes with Christmas lights, and a WidowLife Network Directory of exceptional service providers is being created.
We feel confident that you want to take part in the James 1:27 challenge. Please pray about helping us in one of the following ways.
Financial Support Goal: $100,000 by December 31 to cover the cost of:
- Widow care
- Hiring an assistant
- Operational expenses
Connections Goal: 100 contacts including:
Lori would love to share the story of God’s faithfulness with your small group or church and how you take part in continuing the story.
Would you prayerfully consider joining one of the following ministry teams?
- WidowLife network
August 15, 2017
When the children of Israel made it to the Promised Land, the Lord spoke to their leader, Joshua, commanding him to build an altar of remembrance. Joshua did just that encouraging the people to take time to remember all the ways that God had been faithful to them. The altar of stones would be a sign to the children of the next generation when they would ask, “What is that altar and what are the stones? Please tell us, what is this all about?” Joshua 4 tells us this story.
Every time I visit my grandson, he asks for me to tell him a “life-child story” meaning a childhood story of my life. I think ahead through my life-child stories to have them prepared for our bedtime devotions. What he is asking is, “Tell me about when you were a little girl.” The Village Appreciation Celebration was overwhelming in that over 300 people came to create a life-child story for my grandsons. We took time to place stones on the altar as we remembered God’s faithfulness over the last eighteen years. The altar also presents a challenge for the next generation to consider being used in the lives of others. Hurting people follow after us. Let’s be faithful to share the story of Jesus.
(10 years old when her daddy died. Today, Abi is married to Nick Fasciano raising four precious boys.)
As the oldest child, I should have the most memories of Bobby Apon. Truthfully, my memories are a swirled crescendo of my senses. My dad smelled like sawdust after he built something by hand on the cold concrete floor or in the driveway. He felt like his huge hand over mine when he built and then taught me to hold a bow and arrow correctly and then together we shot it at the inside of the garage door. Looked like muted color pancake batter he made in the shape of Mickey Mouse with carob chip eyes, smelled like burning leaves, sounded like my own shrieks of joy as he bounced on the trampoline, felt like wet cement when I squished my hand into the floor of the bike shed he just built, feels like my stomach jumped into my throat one Monday night in May eighteen years ago.
I started to believe the lie that I had lost the most significant person in my life. That there would never be anyone as important and I would continue to live as a bird with a broken wing that wouldn’t heal. The enemy wants me to believe that since I endured such a significant tragedy so early in life, the rest of my life is spent just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Do you want to know the truth? We did lose a significant person. As I look around this room I see hundreds of people who made the deliberate decision to get his or her hands dirty, use their time, spend their money to try and fill one man’s abandoned shoes, and I am confident there are hundreds more unaccounted for tonight.
I see all of you who became intentionally significant to us. To you significant people, God as Father sounds like biblical truth set in front of me over and over again. Looks like a teacher at The King’s Academy brushing the knots out of my hair as she let me weep into the sink over something insignificant. Feels like security when other teachers guarded normalcy in my life when at times I felt like a little goldfish in a bowl. Sounds like hearing myself calling one of you Dad while we were camping. Instead of you making me feel silly, you reassured me instead. Feels like being heard when the pressures of high school made me feel overwhelmed with darkness and you took the time out of your day to meet with me to talk me through it. Sounds like the time that I heard I would get to attend Liberty University a gift that remains one of the largest in my life. When the enemy tries to remind me of a giant void in my life in the shape of my dad, the Lord is quick to remind me of your faces.
(9 years old when her daddy died. Today she is married to Ben raising four sons and one foster boy they hope to adopt. They planted a church in Vermont three years ago.)
I specifically want to thank you for the ways you have ministered His Word to our family.
Psalm 107:20 says, “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”
That’s exactly what the Lord has done in our family. He’s used so many to train us in the Word of God teaching us how to study. He sent many to pray Scripture over us as well as to send us verses that remind us of the promises of God’s Word. We would not be where we are today if we didn’t have so many faithful people ministering the truth of God’s Word into our hearts.
1 Peter 2:6 “For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
The cornerstone is Jesus, and He’s the One we have built our lives on and we are not disappointed.
He has brought us through fire and water. He has laid an oppressive burden upon us that we don’t always understand, and yet He has brought us out into a place of abundance and we are not disappointed. I want to encourage those of you who may be walking through fire and water and you are wondering what in the world the Lord is doing. Cling to Jesus. Trust Him. Obey Him. Hold tight to Him and you will not be disappointed. Psalm 66
(8 years old at the time his daddy died. Today he is married and impacting others as a coach in the life of the business world.)
As I look at each face, I remember that ice cream trip. I remember that day in the batting cages. I remember that prayer session when you laid hands on me and my wife. I remember that study hall where you straightened a young buck out. I remember that research paper I probably didn’t do that good on, but it was a learning lesson. I remember that night where I was sitting at the table talking to you and not playing video games. It’s all so overwhelming. It really is. So, from my heart, and you will hear this all night, that the purpose of this evening is that we want the Lord Almighty to be glorified and we want you to be gratified.
There are people who intentionally took an opportunity to take a young kid and say, “I am not going to let him become a statistic. I’m not going to let him fail.” You spent your time and energy to mentor me, while the whole time I was starving for an example. What does a provider look like? What does a protector look like? What does a family vacation look like with a dad? What does it mean to be a man of purity? What does it mean to be someone who is a prayer warrior for their family? I didn’t have that. My dad was an amazing man that I have nothing but positive memories of, but I didn’t have that model. Thank you for modeling manhood to me. I cannot thank you enough because I have a lovely wife, Brittany, who is a direct recipient of what you have invested in me. I love you.
(6 years old at the time of her daddy’s death. Today, she is making preparation to work as a photo journalist with the International Mission Board.)
I was asked to share how God has been a Father. That’s is not an easy question since God has fathered me in numerous ways over these last eighteen years. As I think through the pillars of grace I must say that, for me, God is love. He has been a Father of love by bringing people to pray for me over the numerous trips I’ve been able to take. There are people who not only said they would pray, but actually got on their knees to intercede on my behalf. He has been love by providing and working in the tiny details of my life. Because I have experienced God as my Father, I know that He cares for the details of your life as well. Growing up, I imagined a father considering the details of his child…He would know what your favorite color is or what you like. This is the coolest thing to me because some people see God as Father as a distant idea, thinking “Yes, God is a Father, but I don’t really see Him as my Father.” They see God as impersonal. However, God has chosen to point out to me that He cares about the details just as an earthly father would.
God doesn’t have to be a distant far-off idea of someone you can kind of talk to or pray to who doesn’t interact with us because He does involve Himself. I don’t know where we lost the idea that God is a personal Father–He really is. He was a Father before time began. Jesus Christ is His Son. He gets to portray that on us which is huge. He has been a Father to me as a personal God, yes, but as Father of details.
God knows the deepest desires of our hearts and cares about the deepest details. God is such a faithful, loving Father. Thank you for praying for me all these years because I know all of you have. Thank you for writing letters and sending texts, for meeting with me for coffee, for coaching us, and for teaching us. Words are not easy to express our appreciation, but thank you so much for everything. You mean the world to us.
(was 5 years old when his daddy died. Today, Isaac works as a graphic designer for Liberty University.
It is really cool to see the whole collective of people as a testament to see when you are inside of the Lord’s will to see what He is capable of doing which is anything and everything. One of which is beating the statistics of a fatherless family which is what we went through. The world is not in our favor when it comes to being fatherless. They look at a single mom and the eight kids and think this probably won’t turn out too well, but the Lord stepped in saying, “No, I have a better idea. I will be their Father and walk with them from the beginning. It’s really neat how the Lord selected different pockets of you to minister to each of my siblings. Some of you ministered to my older siblings in ways that would not have been effective for me. And some of you ministered to me in ways that wouldn’t have touched my younger brothers and sister. It’s really cool to see the Lord’s Sovereignty and faithfulness in all of that. He knew exactly what we needed as fatherless kids, and allowed you take part in the story as the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s a humbling opportunity for all of us to look out and see your faces. Thank you. We would not be here today if it weren’t for the Lord and very importantly if it weren’t for you. We are where we are today because you said yes to the Lord in caring for our family. We love you deeply.
(turned 4 years old three days after his daddy died. Today, Evan feels the call of God to give his life sharing the Gospel with others especially those who are also fatherless.)
Hebrews 13:7 “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
Anybody can talk and try to influence people by what they say, but ultimately nothing can impact anyone more than when their lives and their character outshine the words that they speak. We imitated your actions, and watched your faith. We considered the outcome of your way of life. You may not have even known that we were watching, but it was when we watched your actions that our lives were changed. Thank you for playing a part in our story.
(was 2 when her daddy died. Today, Amy is a junior attending Liberty University with plans to be a flight attendant.)
I wanted to focus specifically on how the mentors I looked up to ultimately shaped me into the person that I am today. Whether that be a teacher, a high school intern, or parents of friends of mine, throughout my life God has sent people walking alongside of me.
God fathered me in tangible ways: In third grade, my school had an event called Dads and donuts. I remember Pastor Johnny took time out of his super busy schedule to pick me up in his hummer which was the coolest car in the world to me. After the event, he took me to the mall and told me I could get whatever I wanted. That was such a huge deal to me. I felt as if I were walking around with the president. He showed up making me feel like I was on cloud nine. Fast forward to high school and that tangible example of a father was my best friend’s dad. God could see this was something that I wanted. God knew this was something that I needed because high school is the hardest part of your life, at least for me it was, so I wanted and needed a father-figure. God physically fathered me through someone else’s dad.
Thank you! We give glory to God for the way He used you because without you we wouldn’t be where we are today.
(Micah was a thirteen month old baby when his daddy committed suicide. Today, Micah is preparing to study business at Liberty University. His goal is to own a Chick-Fil-A after graduation.)
Because I was a baby when my dad died, God has been very unique in my life compared to my siblings because I have no memory of my father. I’ve never known what it is like to have a dad. The way God used Himself was different. God promises to be a Father to the fatherless. He did that through you—the body of Christ which was most relevant in my life. He has used families to take me on trip giving me that family experience with a dad. He has given me friends who moved me closer to God rather than drawing me away. What you did in answering the call of God was truly impactful and we will forever be thankful for you. You have challenged me, been a servant, been generous, given your time, giving money – NewSong sent me to SLU and taught me about leadership allowing me to take that path. Through all of that, I now want to do the same with my life. I want to continue to be a servant, a light in other’s life, show them hope and further God’s Kingdom through that.
We saw the story from a different perspective. Perhaps you bought a pair of tennis shoes, you may have prayed, you were a teacher, you fixed our dishwasher when it was leaking through to the garage. You know what part you played in the body, but we saw the grand and glorious story. We saw God. We wanted to share a glimpse of that with you so that you could see that with God all things are possible.
God charted the next season of our lives with a promise from His Word that we have lived our lives on.
Psalm 68:5 declares, “I am a defender of the widow and father to the fatherless.”
We believed His Word and we have lived His Word every single day. God’s truth makes a difference.
When I stood at the wedding altar, my wedding ring had inscribed, “Everything God does remains forever.” When my husband was no longer here, I remember wrestling with God asking what was that all about since my marriage did not last forever. Over time, I put stones around that diamond of hope—eight stones to represent my children as my forever. The ring came on and off as the emotions would rise and fall. The Apostle Paul expressed a desire in 1 Corinthians 7:8 for those who are single and those who are widowed to “remain as I” – focused on the Lord and focused on others. Of course, Paul also encouraged marriage for those who were married. His point was to fulfill your calling. I wear my ring today as a symbol that I am called to remain focused on the Lord giving the next season of my life to encourage the widow and fatherless to put their trust in God and the promises in His Word. God’s perspective makes a difference.
I have been so impacted by the body of Christ and the way God has worked in our lives that I want to give back. I want to turn around and comfort those who have been called to walk with God as Husband and God as father as I have been comforted. I want to share His perspective with them. You are the reason why we have started Perspective Ministries. This ministry is because of you. I want to be like you in this world. Thank you for being there to help light our world. We want to be there to help Light Their World.
May 31, 2017
The seasons change bringing about a new chapter in life. We all experience the turning of these pages where pillar points are created at these intersections. As I anticipated the high school graduation for Micah, the youngest of my eight children, my time of reflection became a moment of rich worship which grew to an idea . . . A Village Appreciation Celebration.
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child which was definitely our experience! Our family began to discuss how we could make such a time of appreciation happen. The question was not could it happen, but it should happen. The entire family put their yes on the table and plans began.
But what would it take to say thank you to our village?
Please take time to view the Village Appreciation video telling the story of God’s pillars of grace.
May 3, 2017
May 3rd is National Widow’s Day. Currently there are 13 million widows in the United States. God commands His church to visit widows and the fatherless in their time of distress. The Apon Family will take time to remember those in our village who have come alongside of us helping me to raise my eight fatherless children as a widow. If you would like to join us on May 18th as we testify of God’s faithfulness, please click on Village Appreciation Celebration for details and to RSVP.
Consider the following on this national holiday to remember the widow:
God is the overall covering for the widow. He takes her under His wings and promises His protection. God delights in taking care of the widow as Husband. She must learn to put her trust in Him. God cares about her spiritual, emotional, and physical needs along with her need for community. When she is walking through the dark “valley of the shadow of death,” God’s promises are of great encouragement:
“Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” Psalm 139:12
“Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20
…is a lady in transition in the context of pain. (Side note: She likes the “r” in Mrs. to remain longer than you might think). She may be young, a mommy, elderly, disabled, shut-in, financially impoverished or inherited a standard of living she is not ready to handle. The widow community is made up of different personalities experiencing a range of emotions. She is sad, distraught, stressed, angry, bitter, confused, disappointed, tired and afraid. We seek to redirect her focus from man to God to bring life after death and turn sorrow into joy. God gives examples of widows who pray, give, serve, trust and sing! It is the desire of Perspective Ministries to disciple widows towards that goal.
God uses people
- The glitter band-aid = friends, family, and even strangers who will rush in. They will act as the antibody that rushes to an ailment in the physical body until healing takes place. This band-aid may stay by her side for the first year, but starts to peel away soon after that.
- Support Squad = the core group of friends who will stick by her side. They are willing to go the distance with her, but may fall by the wayside after the second year. At this time, the widow finds herself in need of Christ to be her everything.
Jeremiah 49:11 “Let your widows trust in Me.”
God uses the church, the body of Christ
The WidowLife team is made up of the people God will use as she settles into her new normal helping to Light Their World. They will act as a gardener with a watering can of refreshment providing resources God will use to care for the following needs bringing growth for all:
- Spiritual – discipleship
- Emotional – grief support, counseling, and mentoring
- Social – helping find fellowship and adjust to her new community..
- Physical – practical needs met in ways that are meaningful to her.
In April, God allowed Perspective Ministries with the help of One Need to pressure wash some of the widow’s homes. It only takes a little time to show how much you care. It only takes a little time to answer someone’s biggest prayer. Thank you for giving so that we may visit the widow. If you would like to donate so that we can make a difference for many more ladies, please click here
Notes of appreciation for the gift of a pressure washed home:
Thank you and Perspective Ministries so much for having my home pressure washed. Words can not truly express how much I appreciate this gesture. We have a pressure washer so I “attempted” to do this on my own last year. I quickly learned that this was a task that I could not do with the angle of my yard. Therefore, I knew that I would have to have this done professionally and added it to a long “to do list.” When, I received your message that this had been handled for me, tears came to my eyes for several reasons. One, it was a burden lifted, but more importantly, I could feel the love of God and see His hand at work in meeting my needs. I also felt the love of my fellow man in reaching out to me to meet even so trivial of a need (there are so many others with much greater needs). I have had several home repair and maintenance issues over recent months and just to have one of these issues handled for me is truly both a relief and a blessing. This is a difficult month, as it is the second anniversary of my husband’s death. You and Perspective Ministries and those who donate their time and services spread the love of God and allow widows, like myself, to see some light in the darkness and to feel loved, cared for, and supported. Thank you so much for blessing my life and for allowing God to use you and your associates in such a beautiful and loving way.
It was a blessing to have my home pressure washed. I have never been apart of a group that ministered to others the way you all have to me. I want to also minister to those in anyway that I can. The blessing that this ministry and you individually have been to me are too many to list. Thank you just seems not enough to say.
Thank you so much for pressure washing my house. It was so helpful and now my house is sparkling and all the icky dirt is gone. I am so blessed!
April 4, 2017
This has been an eventful month in many ways. The Lord allowed us to bless widows in “ways that are meaningful to them.” Your gifts helped us to purchase tires, provide legal help, as well as disciple and mentor young widows.
Notes of appreciation from our sweet widows:
“Thank you for giving me the name of your lawyer. I now have a will! We met today for the first time as well as his wife. They are absolutely precious, and I was so touched with tears streaming down my face. God bless you for reaching out to so many people!
“Thank you for the blessing of tires for my van. When I had maintenance work done, the technician warned me the front tires were bald, but I didn’t have the money. I prayed and informed your ministry of the need even though I wasn’t sure I should ask. It was so wonderful to hear your words on the phone, “Do you still need tires?” My answer was, “Do I ever!” God protected us from a blow-out, but I don’t think we would have made it much longer. My latest memory verse has been, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. Thank you for being an answer to prayer and a messenger of God’s peace.
“Tonight’s food for thought at our WidowLife discipleship meeting was a blessing…will you choose to be bitter or better? Lori Apon did an amazing job once again mentoring to us by sharing widows in the Bible. I’m convinced every day more and more that God’s got a plan although we may not understand. I’m still clinging to my motto, “Never Lose Hope. God’s Got This!”
For me personally, the month has been full of emotions from welcoming my 8th grandson, Ethan Noah Whittinghill, into the family to moving my parents from North Carolina to Woodstock. It will be my joy to care for them in their later years. Pictures below show Ben and Kayla with their five boys, Nick and Abi with their four sons, and my parents. Thank you for your prayers. We are in exciting days as we move closer to the return of Jesus Christ. The enemy is aware of this as well. Aren’t you glad that he is already defeated? May the Lord bless you.