December 21, 2016
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
December 14, 2016
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
December 7, 2016
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
November 23, 2016
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.
November 16, 2016
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3
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.
November 9, 2016
How are we caring for the widow and fatherless?
Perspective Ministries is now 11 months old! I am still pinching myself that the vision is at the appointed time. God has allowed us to accomplish so much; however, each day we realize there is so much to do. Just think about it – there are 21,000 widows in Atlanta! The good news is God is using you to make a difference.
Because of your investment, WidowLife was able to care for the widow helping to Light Her World in the following ways: Continue Reading
November 2, 2016
What if . . .
You began to believe that there really is a “God Account?” This would mean that, by faith, you would begin to take God at His word. For years people have made efforts to invest in the right account whether in the stock market or in other investments offering great interest and gain. Imagine how God could be glorified if we began to see, take and make opportunities to invest in the God Account He has already established.
In Luke 18:22 God says, “Sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven.” What if we knew the day and hour that He was to return? What if His return were in 25 days? What would you do different? Would you be willing to change your investments to those that are lasting? Would you consider transferring funds from the accounts that you can see to those that cannot be seen – to your “God Account?”
Allow God to challenge you to: “Test Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes, says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:10
October 31, 2016
A time for Thanks . . . giving!
There is always something to be thankful for has become a popular challenge to reflect upon daily, weekly, and even in the midst of sorrow and pain. God is good even when our perception of “good” differs. Spend time this month giving thanks.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders.” Psalm 9:1 Continue Reading
October 26, 2016
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas or at least it is at Hobby Lobby and every other department store in town. Many families make their way to the pumpkin patch while Michael Bublé sings Baby it’s cold outside sending a chill to the core of your heart.
Whether this is your first Christmas without someone to kiss under the mistletoe or you’ve spent years singing I’ll have a Blue Christmas Without You, the holidays have potential for teary eyes and tender emotions.
“He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21 Joy and laughter will come again; however, in the meantime attempt to insert some laughter and joy in your season of pain. Consider the following to bring light into your dark season:
October 19, 2016
When our greatest fears and nightmares become realities
“I’m sick and I’m coming home,” was the cry of my husband of seven years and father to our four small children on the other end of the phone. As I awaited his return, I felt God whisper, “Your greatest fear has been realized.” Upon his arrival, I learned that he had been unfaithful to me in our marriage, and was sicker than we ever imagined. God spoke to me again saying, “This will be a transition time, but it will be for your good and My glory.”
October 17, 2016
As the holidays approach, WidowLife offers practical ideas to care for widows during the month of October.
October 12, 2016
As the color of the leaves change and the temperatures cool down, signs of a new season are apparent. For many, their loved one is not by their side which can bring tenderness and pain to the holiday season. October, November and December can be difficult for grieving people. WidowLife would like to help you care for those who are suffering. Take time to consider one of the following gifts that will bring light to those who are hurting at this time of year.
“It only takes a little time to show how much you care. It only takes a little time to answer someone’s biggest prayer.”