March 26, 2018
The days after John-Michael tragically died were painfully long. I never knew how painful it could be to watch someone walk through such intense grief. Alex had lost her husband, her best friend, all of her future dreams with John-Michael, and the only person who could truly make her laugh and smile on a wretchedly long work day.
I’ve never felt more powerless as a friend. There were so many moments where there was nothing I could do or say to take the pain away. It felt as if the only way this was going to get better was if we woke up one day and realized this all was just a horribly long, bad dream.
When Alex asked me to write this, my first response was an awkward laugh. I failed horribly at this whole “being a best friend to the widow” some of the days, weeks, and months following John-Michael’s death. All I wanted was for her to have joy again and it felt like that would never be possible. I plead constantly with God to provide her reprieve and peace and to restore her joy.
There was one moment when I was ready to throw in the towel on the idea that this God I claimed to follow was still “good.” Alex woke up one night at 4 a.m. because she couldn’t sleep and decided to read her Bible. She softly read 2 Corinthians 4 aloud and when she got to verse 16 the tears started falling… hard.
“For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
I remember being so angry in that moment. “LIGHT?! HOW INSENSITIVE, GOD. Nothing about this is “light,” I thought to myself.
I proceeded to beg God to give me something to say to help her respond to this scripture. I was pleading with him to show up and provide me something that would fix everything she was experiencing in her heart.
Then, Alex, tear-soaked-Bible in hand, looks over at me and says, “If this grief, that is saturating my entire being is considered “light,” then how beautiful will the glory of Christ be.”
I was speechless. Here I was—the friend trying to be a fill-in god that could fix this pain, but God was doing His job, the job that was never mine. Being a sweet, tender, loving Father to her and showing her that even though it feels like all of her world has crumbled, there is purpose, meaning and beauty in this pain that will make Christ’s ever-satisfactory glory completely worth it.
I still get chills thinking about how surreal that moment was. I now have story after story of the Lord’s faithfulness in the months following.
I learned a lot of “hard-way” lessons when it comes to walking with people through grief. But I’ve found three things that are certainly vital to walking through these seasons faithfully:
First, there are times when silence and your presence are all she needs;
for you to sit in the pain with her without trying to give answers or reasons, without changing the subject. She just needs affirmation that the reality of this circumstance is painful, that her heartache is justified, and that this world was not created to be this way.
Even Jesus asked James and John to sit with him in his grief as he sat in anguish before he went to the cross: “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:37
Second, there are times where she needs to be reminded of the gospel;
when her mind is plagued by fear, hurt, and lies or her circumstances have caused her to doubt everything she’s ever believed to be true. Gently remind her of why God is good and point her to eternity. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 it says, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who do not have hope.”
What sets us apart as Christians in grief is that we are able to grieve with hope. The Lord doesn’t ask us to replace our mourning with thanksgiving. Rather, he uses our sorrow to proclaim a type of thanksgiving we wouldn’t be able to express otherwise. The thanks be to him who says our grief will be worth it. The giving of ourselves to say that even if our earthly hopes have been deferred, our eternal hope will never be lost.
Lastly, she needs you to be her cheerleader, not her critic.
Critics come out of the woodworks when tragedy strikes. Everyone has opinions on how a widow should grieve, when it’s okay to talk about it, or when they should pursue another relationship.
Be the friend that helps fight for joy when it starts creeping back in. I know right now it’s impossible to believe when I tell you that the days won’t always seem this heavy. But eventually, there will be a day when it feels like she has started to get her laugh back. Celebrate that alongside her. Find ways to embrace it and create more of it. You will not and cannot bring healing. Only Christ can do that. But life and death are not distinctly separated from one another in the seasons of our lives. Mourning and dancing—they don’t always take turns. While people celebrate engagements, new babies, and the sweetness of life, the fallen world will continue to break our hearts, often times simultaneously. The tension is constantly there, leaving us wondering when to celebrate and when to cry. Often the best thing we can do is recognize the tension and do both, trusting and remembering that when Jesus left this earth, He didn’t leave us alone to discern the timing of our responses. He gave us the Spirit to help navigate these complexities.
The last 2.5 years have not been easy, but I can tell you that mine and Alex’s friendship is one I will forever hold dear to my heart. It has been stretched, challenged, and deepened through this season. We live 1,000+ miles away from each other now, but when we do get time together, it is clear the foundations of our relationship run deep, to the depths of suffering and pain to the joys of life and celebration. Nicholas Wolterstorff said,
“I shall look at the world through tears. Perhaps I shall see things that, dry-eyed, I could not see.”
This will be hard and there will be days when you will feel inadequate, insufficient, and like you’re failing. Press on, my friend! Through tears and pain, you will see and know the Lord more intimately and so will your friend. Joy comes in the morning, and it will come through this seemingly unending mourning.
March 19, 2018
Easter is a holiday you can feel in the air. It comes right when the cold weather has made its final stand. Victory! The sunshine and warmer weather has sent those cold, dark clouds back to where they came from (except for in New York, I don’t know when your warm is coming, but it is, right? Yea, it has to, hold on!) Flowers start to blossom, store fronts change from jackets to swim suits, winter snow scenes to spring bouquets—it’s here. For most this is a season of excitement and anticipation, a celebration of new life both physically and spiritually. But for the sufferer, it’s yet another season where the absence of our loved one is felt deep within. Another holiday that we ache to celebrate the joy of life with ALL of our family. Even though I am happily remarried to an amazing man, this holiday hits me especially hard each year. My late husband John-Michael loved Easter. He sang on Easter morning like he had won the Mega Millions, because in light of the cross, he knew he had won. Oh, how I long for the day when I can sing with him again of the triumph of Easter. Don’t you, my suffering friend? How badly do you want to sing knowing that all the bad has been wiped away and that full restoration has finally come? I want it so bad, but here we are, stuck in the middle. Somewhere between the Easter baskets and egg hunts, Lent devotionals, and church celebrations, we’re tired and don’t yet fully feel the triumph of Easter. The winter may have passed, but the final frost on our soul hasn’t seemed to melt quite yet.
Widow, sufferer, Easter is for you. I know it because the coming of the first Easter must have felt a lot the same for the disciples. They had left everything to follow Jesus. They planted all their stakes and dreams in him. They believed that their season of long suffering would lead to a triumphant victory here on earth. They didn’t expect the cross, they didn’t expect death. They were certain that he was going to break down the temple and rebuild it, in front of their very eyes. Their idea of restoration looked so much different than what God had in mind. Even when told by Jesus that he would die and rise again (Matthew 20:17-19), they didn’t understand, thinking that they wouldn’t suffer quite that much, and surely neither would the Son of God. But as Good Friday hit, they were stunned. Jesus died. All their dreams and plans were destroyed. The death of Jesus shook the disciples so much that they locked themselves in a home for fear that everything they believed could have been wrong (John 20:19). They had no idea what to do next, this wasn’t the life they thought they signed up for. We can say that again, this wasn’t the life we thought we signed up for.
Like the disciples, we cannot comprehend the full meaning of the suffering we are going through. I too have sat in the quiet of my home thinking, sometimes screaming, “WHAT am I going to do next?!” I cannot give you a concrete answer as to why my beloved, funny, young, full-of-life, late husband is not with me to celebrate Easter this year. Even with warnings in scripture that promise suffering here on earth, I couldn’t have fathomed the heartache that could come from it. But, hold on, it’s what happened next in the disciple’s lives that changed the story for them and changed the story for you and me—completely, forever! All the sufferers, and honestly, all the earth, hinges on what happened next. At the moment of complete darkness, complete chaos, and complete hopelessness, enters our Savior…
“PEACE TO YOU!” Luke 24:36
Jesus was alive. Jesus rose from the dead. JESUS CONQUERED DEATH. And what are his first words to them? Peace. My dear friends, peace. “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see…” Luke 24:38-39. It was him. Can you imagine the relief they must have felt? Death was no longer the final answer. There was someone greater, and he faced the curse of death and conquered it for us. This was a triumphant victory.
It is just like Jesus to meet us with hope and promise in the midst of confusion.
“Instead of explaining our suffering God shares it.” (Nicholas Wolterstorff)
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
This Easter, the promise of the resurrection is for you. The cross declares that Jesus has tasted death for you so that it doesn’t have to be the final word for you, for your kids, or for your life. In the place of havoc Jesus has offered peace. No matter what this broken world throws at you, no matter the plots Satan has to destroy, take heart, Jesus has overcome them all. You may not be singing with flowers in your hair, you may very well be in the stillness of your home, holding onto that last shred of hope that victory is coming. It is. It has. You can’t see fully right now what restoration will look like, but in Christ you will. In Christ your hope is as rock solid as the defeat of winter and the restoration of spring.
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.
March 5, 2018
As a young high school girl, I began to grow a seemingly irrational fear. As irrational as the fear would have sounded to others, it was unquestionably real to me. My fear was of becoming a widow, specifically a young one. I had even vowed to myself to never, ever marry a man in the military, since a military man would only increase my chances of being a young widow. A couple years passed with this fear still lingering in the back of my head. Surprisingly, I ended up getting married while still in my teens to a boy named Michael who would join the military soon after we wed. (Never say never, right?) I loved him enough to accept that was what he wanted to do, and even though it scared me a little, I was his wife so I supported him.
Eventually it was official, Michael joined the military and not too long after we were living in Germany. So many amazing changes in such a short amount of time, and even more were yet to come. A little over a year of being married, we found out I was pregnant. We were both so excited and immediately began to mentally prepare for the big shift soon to come for our tiny family. Our life was good, in a completely normal everyday life kind of way. He loved his job, we had awesome friends, we lived in a beautiful village, we had a precious, little dog and a baby on the way. It was all so normal, and then suddenly one day everything was not normal at all.
It was a typical Friday morning for us. We got up about 5:00am, we had breakfast, talked about plans for my birthday, shared lots of laughter, and then Michael left for work after he prayed over us. I had no idea it would be the last time I would see him. I was nearly four months pregnant at the time, so I went back to sleep for another hour to get some extra rest. I woke up to a knock on the door, and when I realized I didn’t notice the car, I began to feel a little uneasy. I texted Michael letting him know about it, but I never received a response. Finally, my phone went off, it was my neighbor and friend to Michael and I, telling me someone stopped by saying that Michael hadn’t shown up for work. In the military, you don’t just not show up for work.
I ran down the stairs and out the front door still in my pajamas and a robe and knocked on my friends’ door, trying to learn as much detail as I could, but we were all clueless at that point. My friends and I spent hours searching for Michael, calling hospitals within a two-hour radius, and the language barrier only prolonged the process. These hours felt like days. That afternoon, I finally got word that Michael had been in a car wreck. I prayed and prayed for God to save my husband, to just let him live. God had answered that prayer, just not in the way I was asking.
I heard a car pull up outside, and I made my way out the door. I saw four men with somber faces and dress blue attire step out of the car. My stomach turned in disbelief and the only thing I remember saying was a very solemn, “No.” I had seen all the movies, but this was my life, not a movie, so it just couldn’t be real. But it was real, my biggest fear was really happening. We all walked inside, I was asked to sit down, and one of the four men proceeded to tell me Michael had died in the car wreck earlier that morning. I slumped into my dear friend’s arms, and I wept—and I wept hard. I had spent hours trying to cling to the idea that he lived through the wreck and was being taken care of in a hospital somewhere, but it just wasn’t so. I was three days shy of twenty years old and pregnant with our first child; this was not how I imagined my life to be. Eventually, I sat up again, and I looked down into the palms of my hands which had written on them, “For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful.” And I spoke, “God is good,” reminding myself that God went before me, and it was not a surprise to Him. With that, I began my undesired journey of widowhood.
What was once just a seemingly irrational fear, is now my reality. I’m a young widow and a single mom to a precious little boy, and you know what? It’s okay. The road certainly wasn’t painless, but God has used it all to grow me deeper into Him.
God allowed me to enter into my biggest fear so that I could experience just how much bigger He is.
When I first began to fear widowhood in high school, I hadn’t yet entered into a relationship with Jesus. I know for a fact that I would not have the hope and peace that I have today if I didn’t have Jesus to walk me through this. He is our only hope.
February 26, 2018
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you. And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” –2 Thessalonians 3:1-3 (NKJV)
Dear Mom (in-law),
We have both lost someone that is irreplaceable in our lives. You a son, the one you carried in your womb for nine months, the one you brought into this world, the baby you held in your arms, had inside jokes with, the one who called you mommy and counted on you for so many years. The one you raised into the man I love—he is who I love in many ways because of you. And me a husband, the one I built a life with and shaped my world around, the one who held my hand in all the joys and sorrows of life, the man that I vowed my all to, to become one with. Our grief is so deep because this man was a part of us and now he is gone. We grieve many of the same things—his laugh, his hugs, his jokes and his talents, but in the same breath, our grief is vastly different. I know we both feel that lonely chasm deep within our bones.
In the days of living out this unexpected plan of God, I won’t always love you the way your son had a way of loving you, after all I’m not him. And I know you won’t always be able to love me in the ways he loved me, after all you’re not him. But, I do believe that we have enough of that man pulsing through our veins to be there for one another in a way that no one else can.
Mom, there is no light way to put this, we will face hard days, months and years ahead. We will each have to make decisions that we never thought we would have to make. Decisions that will impact us and change us, and for better, and sometimes worse, we won’t look the same as we used to. Tears will often take the place of laughter in our homes and family dinners will feel almost impossible. So here we are, at a fork in the road. We can hug each other and part ways with tears in our eyes leaving each to our own grief battle or like Naomi and Ruth, when faced with the death blow of son and husband, we can take the much harder road that leads to seeing beauty that comes only from winning battles of love, trust, and service.
Today, let’s choose to take the harder path, we will probably have to choose that tomorrow…and the next day too, but I believe God will honor it. Promises will be hard to keep while God is putting our lives back together, so I present these needs and resolutions to you. Please know, my resolutions to you are not exhaustive and are not conditional on you meeting my needs. When you and I fail to meet these needs and fulfill these resolutions, because we inevitably will, the promise of grace will always stand.
- Your prayers.
- Remind me that the Gospel is true—even now, even in the pain.
- Open communication—the opportunity to admit that something you have done has hurt me.
- Space to grieve— If I don’t call or text back it doesn’t mean I don’t care.
- Respect—I’ve got so many decisions to make for myself (and my kids), please respect me as head, like you would have for your son leading our relationship/family.
- Connection—be present with me (and your grandkids).
- Acceptance—If God brings the opportunity for love again, please don’t check out of my life.
- Love—I’m your family forever.
- To pray for you.
- To remind you that the Gospel is true—even now, even in the pain.
- To remember and celebrate my late husband, your son, and to remember that this will look different for each of us.
- To give the benefit of the doubt—I trust that the things you do that have hurt me aren’t done specifically to hurt me, but because you are grieving.
- To be humble—if I’ve hurt you, I want to apologize.
- To connect—You’ve already lost a son, don’t worry, you won’t lose me (or my kids).
- To be patient and then patient again.
- To be considerate—of your grief, of how I choose to honor my late husband, of how I choose to move forward, of what I post on social media.
- To be transparent—if God brings the opportunity for love again, I’ll tell you and be gentle in doing so.
- To talk it out—for all the things that come our way (grief differences, family celebrations, anniversaries, new relationships…) let’s talk it out.
- To love you—you’re my family forever.
Mom, I endeavor to honor these resolutions because I want to honor you, but more than that, I want to honor and trust God. In Ruth 2:10-12, Ruth received a blessing from Boaz, but also from God himself. She received this blessing because of all she had done for her mother-in-law, but that wasn’t all, “The Lord repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” She received this blessing because she entrusted herself to the Lord when all around her was foreign and uncertain. She believed that God had a plan for her relationships and her life. There is so much purpose in our relationship, Mom. I, like Ruth, choose to believe that this mysterious road called grief will be better walked by your side than alone.
Your Daughter (in-law)
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.
February 14, 2018
It’s Valentine’s Day – hearts, hugs and kisses, roses and chocolate! Romance is in the air, or at least it is advertised to be that way. This can be a very tender time for many even for married ladies. Expectations soar causing emotions to sink when they go unmet. The stage is set for disappointment, and the enemy will try to take you down if you are not aware of his schemes. I will never be able to meet the deepest need in others and they will never ever be able to do the same for me. Ladies, directing your focus to the One, The Lord Jesus, who is the only One who can satisfy your deepest need and always satisfies is the best way to make it through this day. In doing so, you will be able to lay your head on the pillow tonight saying it was a Happy Valentine’s Day.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8
God designed the heart to be the most unselfish organ in the body beating 42,000,000 times a day! It pumps tirelessly to supply all the other organs. Without it, there is no life. It is no wonder God called us to love Him with all our heart. How wonderful it is to know that He heals the broken hearted and those crushed in spirit. Psalm 147:3. You may be in a place where you don’t understand or even like God’s plan for you. Life is out of control, and the pain is intense. May I challenge you to work hard to place your trust in Him. As you rest in His beautiful plan, take time to give love away today. Be watchful as you walk through the day for the ways God is showing His love to you. He is there . . . always there.
Suggestions for celebrating love on Valentine’s Day:
- Focus your thoughts on showing love to others. Give love away in practical ways: surprise a lonely friend with a call or text or bless a stranger by picking up their bill at the grocery store.
- Find couples who are glorifying Christ in their marriage and celebrate their love with them. They are a picture to the world of Jesus and His bride. This is good.
- Conquer the temptation to isolate in sorrow. For years we were intentional about sharing Valentine’s Day with others. Progressive dinners became our tradition inviting couples to host a portion of the meal in their home. Each couple was asked to share their “love story.” This proved to be a positive experience in that it gave my children encouraging stories of what God instituted – the love between a husband and wife. Just because marriage is no longer your story (at the present time), it doesn’t mean your children can’t look to others for that important modeling. Be deliberate about putting on display before them what may be absent in your home.
Jean’s story –
I was 46 years old when my husband died. Both of my children were enrolled in universities and were supportive and loving in every way. I was very aware that life had changed for me; however, I never went through the deep grieving, fear and uncertainty that I’m sure young widows with children to be raised and supported endure.
Two things set my future course for me: To begin with, my perspective on how I approached life and secondly was an intimate conversation I had with the Lord when the chaos settled and the numbness began to wear off. I was all alone in the house with the realization that nobody would share my dinner table with me. Suddenly I felt very alone. This was it! I cried out with honest questions before the Lord while laying on my living room couch, “What is to become of me? What am I to do? I’m turning my face to the wall, even as Hezekiah did. I’m consulting no one or no thing or no emotion but only You. What is to become of me? What am I to do?”
I literally turned my face to the wall and began to pray. When I had finished, I knew in that time of prayer the Lord had outlined my future and even though I didn’t cognitively know what it was, my entire being was settled and at absolute peace. This was God’s grace and love towards me.
Moving forward, I began to live the days that were before me. I struggled with issues of my flesh — wanting intimacy and companionship that I knew was now closed to me without my husband — but in total honesty, I never once thought about Valentine’s Day as being a loss or pain to me. I never once thought about what I was missing because I didn’t feel like I was missing it. My focus was on the Lord and what He had in store for me in my new season. He has been faithful to me in every way over the last thirty years. My Savior has filled the void of my husband in ways beyond comprehension from the beginning of the season of widowhood until today.
Sweet friend – my prayer is for you to experience this same satisfaction as you trust in God’s love for you. Only God knows tomorrow, but for today may you press into Jesus in your pain.
February 5, 2018
One of my favorite memories with my late husband Patrick was our first Valentine’s Day together. We decided that instead of spending the day all about us, we would create a tradition to spend Valentine’s Day on others. We prayed about what to do and decided we would love on the widows, orphans, and the hurting. We called our church and were given some names of some precious widows, a foster child, a lonely older lady who lived by herself, and an older couple where the husband was caring for his ailing wife. We mapped out the whole night, called to make appointments in advance, and on Valentine’s day, we shopped for beautiful flowers, cards, and some yummy treats and headed out. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting with each person as they shared their heart, opened their goodies, and we prayed with them. It was so much fun! We met some amazing people that our paths never would have crossed unless we had purposed to reach out.
Another year, we were able to reach out to and love on some older widows, some divorcees, and some single ladies who were still waiting for “the one” the Lord had for them. Our desire was to create this family tradition to teach our children to be sensitive of those who are hurting around us or just need some encouragement.
Somehow, when my husband passed away, several people found out about our Valentine’s Day tradition. How encouraging to hear that other families have decided to start this tradition with their families as a way to teach their children how to refocus Valentine’s day. What an amazing gift!
We have personally been the recipients of the hands and feet of Jesus these past couple years, and we are ever so grateful for the healing it has provided to our hearts. Below are some ideas of intentional blessings that we have used on Valentine’s Day and others have comforted our family with over the years.
- Deliver a coffee to a single friend with a sweet note of encouragement and love.
- Take flowers to someone to brighten their day along with a sweet verse & note.
- Bring a meal to a family that is hurting.
- Drop off some special treats to a family who recently had a divorce (snacks, breakfast food, muffins, toys, etc…).
- Buy a gift or a meaningful book for someone that could use encouragement and deliver it with a sweet note.
- Make homemade cards with affirmation from scripture that expresses the love that God lavishes on us and make a list of God’s promises.
- Drop off a gift card to a family who is hurting financially and encourage them to take a night off of the stress and take time to invest in their marriage.
- Pray and ask the Lord to lead and guide you to what you are supposed to do. The Holy Spirit is our helper in all things and will show you what the most meaningful thing will be.
Remember, this is truly how the Lord uses the body of Christ–to be the hands and feet of Jesus to demonstrate His amazing love in tangible ways!
Perspective Ministries will be delivering blankets to new widows for Valentine’s Day as a reminder of God’s covering. If you are in the Atlanta area and would like to help, please contact email@example.com. If you would like to bless a new widow on Valentine’s Day for only $10, donate now.
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 29, 2018
When someone you dearly love dies, the world doesn’t stop. Although, for the one grieving it certainly seems it should. While you’re focusing on taking your next breath to make it through the motions of the day, the outside world looks like nothing and nobody has missed a beat. Everyone still goes to the grocery store, they pay their bills, kids go to school, and adults keep working. The earth keeps spinning and life just keeps going. In the beginning, it’s utterly annoying, but now looking back on that painful day of loss and the minutes, hours, and months that followed, I see what a blessing it is that life keeps going.
Oh, how awful it would be if everything did stop. There would be no spiritual growth and grief would be stagnant and unrelenting. I don’t necessarily believe that “time heals all wounds.” I believe Jesus does. But, I do believe that time makes it better, and it’s different for each of us. So, if you’re in the very early stages of grief, just know that, yes, it will be challenging, but you can look to the future with hope. It won’t always be like it is now (Praise God!).
We can definitely look forward to our future, but we can’t live in our future; we must live in the present. Along with that, our future won’t even be good if we aren’t learning to see what’s good right now. Six to nine months into widowhood was probably my darkest time—besides the very beginning, of course. But this was different. I think the shock and chaos were beginning to wear off and I was realizing, Oh my…this really IS my life…and I need to accept it.
I knew I needed to accept it, but I didn’t want to accept it. This was a pivotal time where God heavily laid on my heart for me to set my mind on Him, on the good. It wasn’t a harsh, “Okay, Emily, time to get over it!” Instead, I felt my Heavenly Father gently nudging me to stand up with some much needed encouragement, “I see your pain sweet child, I know you and I know your hurt. I want the best for you, and the best for you is to set your eyes on Me, not this world.” James 1:17 (ESV) says, “Every good gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” So not only was He asking me to set my eyes on Him, but to praise Him in every good thing, no matter how small, because it is a gift from Him. That fact that God freely gives of Himself, which is already enough, and still gives us more is amazing to me. At the time though, I was severely longing to be launched into the future away from the pain, but God was teaching me that if I couldn’t see the good now, I wouldn’t see it later either. If all I see is bad now, bad will be all I see later. He was training my heart towards gratefulness to Him and away from self-pity.
Sometimes we may think we have the right to self-pity because something awful has happened in our lives. But do we? The right to mourn, yes. The right to self-pity, no. So what’s the difference? Self-pity says, “Why did I deserve this? This isn’t fair. My life is way worse than so-and-so’s.” Mourning says, “This really hurts and it’s the result of a broken world.” In mourning we have the right to acknowledge our pain while also acknowledging the good in our lives. We can also understand that we are not the only ones hurting in this world. Self-pity steals our joy and tells us that the bad will out-weigh the good. It tells us that everyone else’s life is better than ours and a lot less painful or difficult. With that outlook we begin to not only hurt ourselves, but those around us. Self-pity is destructive, not healing. Self-pity is a lie from Satan intended to hurt us. We have to pray for a shift in our perspective, be aware of it, and work towards aligning our minds with Christ.
This is why I said time doesn’t heal, and Jesus does. If we make the choice of self-pity, whether subconsciously or not, we aren’t going to heal. Our wound is going to fester as we find more negative things to add onto it, and time will only be against us. On the other hand, if we choose Jesus, seeing His goodness, and trusting in God’s sovereignty in the midst of our pain, we will experience healing and joy unexplainable.
Can you believe we’re already coming to a close on the first month of this new year? Time on earth is going to keep ticking and life here is going to keep moving until that day we enter into eternity. How will we choose to use it? In thankfulness or self-pity? In growth or decline? In relationship with God or casting Him aside and doing life alone? I can assure you the latter of any of these will not lead to an abundant life. Our lives are not determined by our circumstances, but rather by where we put our trust. Let’s trust in the One who loves us so much He sent His only Son, Christ Jesus, to die for our sins and rose again so that we wouldn’t have to live an eternity separated from Him. God is good. He doesn’t want us “stuck in time” with our grief. If we allow God to use this time on earth to deepen our relationship with Him, He certainly will. He desires us to have His healing and joy and He will faithfully provide.
Father, thank You for Your love for us. Help us to keep moving forward with our eyes and hearts set on You. Adjust our perspectives to be more like Yours. Help us to be aware when our thoughts stray to negativity, so we can go to you to set our minds on things above. Help us to be eternal minded, and not to dwell on things that will only matter temporarily. Give us the faith to trust You to comfort us and heal us. Strengthen our desires to know You more and spend more time reading Your Word. You know us better than anyone ever could, and You love us still. Help us to rejoice in You even when our circumstances hurt. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
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.
March 16, 2017
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