Lori Apon

How to Handle Loneliness

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Separations – when we are isolated from those we love.  During travel, illness, or death.
  3. Oppositions – when under attack by others you fall prey to loneliness.
  4. 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

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

12 Practical Ways To Meet the Needs of the Widow this Winter

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

9.      Call:

  • Be available if weather isolates – make sure she is okay.

10.  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.

11.  Visit:

  • Invite her to join you at the movies, for dinner, or take her to run errands.

12.  Pray:

  • 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

 

Meet the Perspectives Blog Team!

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!

– Jean

 

 

 

2017 Update Year-At-A-Glance

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.

Special Projects: 

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

 

Give hope to a widow on GivingTuesday

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.

Thank you!

Lori Apon

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.

Light Their World This Christmas

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.

 

Ministry Update: Disaster Relief – Action and Anticipation

Disaster Relief

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

Action:

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.

Anticipation:

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

Donate now

Connections Goal: 100 contacts including:

  • Businesses
  • Churches
  • Individuals

Contact Lori Apon

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
  • Communications
  • Ministry

 

Stones of Remembrance

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.

Abi Fasciano

(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.

Kayla Whittinghill

(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

Brandon Apon

(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.

Christieanna

(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.

Isaac Apon

(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.

Evan Apon

(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.

Amy Apon

(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 Apon

(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.

Lori Apon

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.

Ministry Update – Village Appreciation Celebration

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.

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Ministry Update – April, 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:

Perspective

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

Mrs. Widow…

…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!

Ministry Update ~ March, 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.

Light Their World Opportunity (17.1)

We would like introduce “Light Their World” (their = the widow and fatherless).  WidowLife exists to meet practical needs of the widow and fatherless providing opportunities for others to do the same.  Often, widows do not have the help or resources to take care of simple projects around their homes or to maintain their automobiles.  Perspective Ministries, through the program WidowLife, seeks to build a network of resources to meet some of their practical needs.  Perhaps you would be willing to offer your skills and services in one of the following ways:

  • Donate your services to 3-5 widows this year
  • Discount your services to all widows
  • Deliver your services with integrity

Don’t have labor skills to offer?  Consider giving so that practical needs can be met.  We will connect your gift with the widow in need by providing reliable practical help.

As Perspective Ministries “visits” the widow and fatherless as Scripture commands in James 1:27, we learn of ways we can help.  Sometimes the gift of flowers meets her need for encouragement, while at another time making a repair on her home reminds her that God is by her side through the body of Christ.

We will share unique opportunities to bless these ladies by sharing the details of the opportunity along with ways for you to respond.

Please consider the first Light Their World opportunity:

This Spring we would like to pressure wash homes for some widows.  The average cost for this blessing is $200 per home. Continue Reading

Ministry update ~ February, 2017

WidowLife is to meet the practical needs of the widow.  This may include something as simple as changing lightbulbs in a high ceiling to taking care of much greater needs.  Soon we will start sending out WidowLife opportunities to “Light Their World” ~ meeting practical needs for the widow and fatherless with the desire to give them hope.  More on these opportunities to come. Continue Reading

Ministry Update ~ January, 2017

The Lord continues to highlight the key word in James 1:27 and that is to visit the fatherless and widows.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…” KJV.

The Amplified translation reminds us to “visit and look after the fatherless and the widows.”

At the beginning of the year, I laid before the Lord pages of ideas and vision for Perspective Ministries asking Him to give clear direction for 2017. The Lord has been so kind to clearly answer that prayer.  God promises that “if we seek Him, we will find Him.”  Oh, to live the rest of this year experiencing God in the way I have this month as I cried out to Him and heard His voice! Continue Reading

Treasuring

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.” Continue Reading

The Lamb of God – A Sign For You

When we stop to recall the Christmas story, many characters come to mind.  Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels, wise men, animals, and of course, baby Jesus.  Other famous components join together to highlight the beauty and majesty of this great narrative:  a star, manger, and the sign.

The sign – oh what an interesting treasure nestled into chapter two of Luke’s gospel:

“This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12

A sign for who? And what was the sign? These are good questions worth considering.
A sign by definition is “any object, action, event, pattern, etc., that conveys a meaning.”

Right after Jesus was born, the Bible tells us that Mary “wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Oh my, how sad, has been the response through the years when this story is told.  Sweet baby Jesus had to be born in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

How could this be?  Jesus, Immanuel, God with us.  Surely, Father God could have written this story differently.  However, God has a way of writing stories with mystery.  Beautiful mystery until the last jot and tittle have been woven into a tapestry creating a glorious and unexpected symphony.  There are no accidents, mistakes or even unwritten chapters that God can’t use for a purpose.  In fact, we are promised that God will work all things together for good for those who love Him.  How reassuring.  Even our biggest mess-ups can be sovereignly used as an exclamation point of wonder.

That’s exactly what happens right here in the Christmas story.  The baby wrapped up in swaddling clothes lying in a manger isn’t there just because there was no room in the inn.  There was no room in the inn so that God’s son, the Lamb of God, would be lying in a manger wrapped up in swaddling clothes . . . as a sign. A sign that conveys a meaning. Continue Reading

Book Recommendation – Being There

There are many books on the market today addressing the subject of suffering and grief.  Often a friend will hand a book to their hurting friend hoping the steps discussed in the read will fix or at least soothe their distress.  The gift of a great resource is not a bad idea especially if the book offers hope and discusses topics that are hard to communicate or often misunderstood. Over the years I have discovered books that are truly helpful and want to share these with you over time.

Books to help the friend of those who grieve are so valuable. The friend of the one who is hurting has a very important place on the timeline of life and death for the one who suffers.  You will have the opportunity to be their listening ear, their safe place, their reasoning mentor and perhaps the one who may be called to speak truth in love. Most likely, we will know of someone in our personal world who experiences tragedy or unspeakable loss.  It is at this point we are given the role of “Job’s friend.”  This group didn’t leave a positive legacy for themselves; in fact, Scripture records Job’s declaration of his friends to be “miserable comforters are you all.” Thankfully, my family was blessed with a village of people who were everything but miserable comforters.  They were instruments of God’s grace.

You will want to be that same kind of friend as well.  Being There, by Dave Furman, is a fantastic new book on the market offering help to those who want to help. Truly it is one of the first of its kind and desperately needed for the body of Christ. Dave’s counsel comes from his own road of suffering teaching him that people need help knowing how to help. Continue Reading

Practical ways to Light Her World in December

December will be tender for those who are facing this without their loved one.  No matter how hard they try to focus on the positive, the reality of not having the one they deeply loved by their side is almost more than they can handle. Depending on where they are in the grief process, some will be in shock and denial seeming to be handling the holidays beautifully. Others may be angry and cold appearing to have become anti-Christmas.

Tell them you are sorry for the pain. Tell them sweet memories of their loved one, and ask them to share memories with their loved one.  This conversation will most likely bring tears, but will be a sweet gift. Take time to care knowing their journey through the grief process takes time.

“Love those who are hurting not because they’ve done anything for us, but because of what Jesus has already done for us.  You will get strength to help the hurting only when you understand what God has done for you in the gospel.” Dave Furman

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Making it Through the Holidays with Little Ones

This post is written from the perspective of looking back through the years on a spectrum of holiday memories; some that make me smile while others I’m glad are in my rearview mirror. For the first time, after 28 years as a mom, I am home alone preparing a Thanksgiving feast for adult children making their way home for the holidays with my grandchildren in tow.  What?!  How did this anticipated season come so fast?   Christmas on the horizon (okay, just 32 days away) doesn’t cause a panic attack any more.  I must admit; however, during those intense child-rearing years there were times I didn’t think I would make it to the end of the day much less the end of the season . . . but I did.

The song, Christmas Shoes, came out the year after my husband died.  The story in these lyrics hit tender places for many causing it to soar to the top of the charts for years.  The line that always pulled at my emotions was, “Mama made Christmas good at our house.” If I didn’t already feel the need to meet this expectation in myself and my family, there was now a song to confirm my responsibility.  As moms, we are the memory makers. As a single or widow-mom, the weight of this can be very heavy.  Stress doesn’t look good on anyone.  Grief plus stress can be an emotional train wreck waiting to happen.  Christmas will be different without your loved one.  There is no way to pretend that it won’t be tender and downright hard.  It is with this in mind that I share an accumulated basket of ideas for not only surviving the holidays, but practical ways to prepare so that Christmas really is a special time with you and your children.  Don’t try to accomplish all of these in your first year. Pick and choose thoughts that might work for your family keeping in mind that I was making Christmas good at our house for eight children.  The best suggestion is to hold on tight to the Lord trusting in His promise to be with you.  He will carry you through. 

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

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Comfort as Comforted

You could hear bells start to jingle and feel a hint of Christmas in the air.  As a mom raising eight fatherless children, this easily turned into the sound of panic.  The countdown to Christmas often began a personal countdown to relief – the end of the holiday chaos on December 26th.

Oh, don’t get me wrong – Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year; however, facing it alone with the desire to “make Christmas good at our house” was overwhelming.  Over the years, the body of Christ came to soften this reality with touches of love through practical help.  A beautifully lit angel guarded our front door one year, anonymously delivered in the night, to remind us that God was our overall protector.  Men gave of their time to hang strands of lights on our home so the children would feel that life would go on.

Giving back and comforting as one has been comforted is part of the foundational drive for Perspective ministries.

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