"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling."

This is a blog about widows,
mothers and daughters,
facing change and challenges
and receiving ordinary, everyday blessings that don't seem quite so ordinary anymore.
It chronicles the journey from grief into the restoration of what has been lost.

*** I am no longer actively posting to this site, so please come visit me at my new site ***

http://www.jrrmblog.com/ - "Starting Over ... Again"

Showing posts with label widow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label widow. Show all posts

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finances #1 - Tithing And Giving As A Widow

Did this strike a chord with anyone? 

Tithing may be a sore subject with some people.  Others may embrace this philosophy wholeheartedly.  Either way, I want to write about what I believe ... and I believe this is an important part of your financial planning.

I have seen first-hand how important this piece of my financial puzzle has become.  It may not seem logical if you are in dire money straits to be giving away what you feel that you need to survive.  Why would God ask us to give to others when we are worrying daily how we will survive and take care of our family?  We are worrying about paying our bills, and the pastor just preached another sermon on the importance of giving.  No joke ... mine did, just last week.  That's what got me started on this post.  And trust me on  this ... it makes "cents."  Pun intended.  :)

Whether you use your Bible to justify it, or you simply feel like "you get back what you give" ... it is important that you are giving, even when you feel as if your budget is telling you that you can't afford to give.  I am not saying that you should just hand over all your money to a church or organization.  I am saying that you sit down, and determine what you are able to give - what you truly feel "led" to share - and then set that plan in motion.

Here's why I feel strongly about this:

  1. There are always people who are worse off than you.  If you have a home, sigh in relief and be grateful.  If you can put food on the table, smile and rejoice.  If you are wearing shoes right now, wiggle those toes and be happy.  God has provided your needs.  There are many who don't have the things with which you have been blessed.  This is not to make you feel guilty, it's to get you to realize that we often focus on our own wants (notice I didn't say needs) and we end up feeling sorry for ourselves.  Pity party in progress!
  2. God has provided everything we have.  We may think that we have worked oh so hard, and have met our own needs ... but just who gave you the skills you use to earn your paycheck?  Who gave you the breaks or opened the doors for you to prosper?  As Christians, we know that we are dependent upon God for our protection, our survival and our prosperity. 
Malachi 3:10 says, " Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it."

2 Corinthians 9:7 says,"[So let] each one [give] as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."

 Luke 6:38 says "give and it will be given to you, a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over it will pour into your lap, for by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return."
There are folks that say you must give 10%, others that say you must be "Spirit-led" and give what the Holy Spirit tells you to give.  I believe there is a difference between tithing and giving.  Tithing is a spiritual discipline where you set aside 10% of your income to give to God's work - essentially giving it back to God.  Giving, for me, falls under the heading of "Spirit-led" and is over and above the monthly tithing.  It's for those times of extra abundance, and when there is a special need presented that I can fill.

However you choose to define it, and whether you choose tithing or giving or both ... the important idea is to share with others what you have been given, and to give back to God some of what He has blessed you with.

You might wonder how you could ever give away what you need yourself.  I can tell you from personal experience that God does indeed "fill in the gaps."  Just like the story from 2 Kings 4:1-7:

1 One day the widow of one of Elisha's fellow prophets came to Elisha and cried out to him, "My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the LORD. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves." 2 "What can I do to help you?" Elisha asked. "Tell me, what do you have in the house?""Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil," she replied. 3 And Elisha said, "Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting the jars aside as they are filled." 5 So she did as she was told. Her sons brought many jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!"Bring me another jar," she said to one of her sons."There aren't any more!" he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, "Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and there will be enough money left over to support you and your sons."

As a widow, I need to live in expectation that God will act on my behalf - according to my faith.  God will supply my needs, according to my trust in Him.  My trust in His goodness and acts of faith, such as tithing/giving, will bring more abundance into my life.

Whether you are in a season of plenty or a season of want...the expectation is that you trust God. That you start with what you have, be willing to do whatever it takes, act believing God will show up and honor God with the results.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Financial Tips from a Widow's Point of View

I am getting inspired to write a few upcoming posts about financial matters.  Specifically, things that I have learned or that have helped me in getting through the minefield of juggling finances as a single woman again; having to adjust to not only a single income but added pressure in the form of medical bills, credit card debt, etc.

I hope that these tips will be helpful.  One of my goals in writing this blog is to share what I have learned, in hopes of helping someone else.  Or maybe starting a dialogue and learning something new myself!  :)

So stay tuned.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Inspired by grief

I was checking out some other blogs by widows this morning.  I headed over to Network Blogs, where my blog is listed (see the link in the right hand column) and chose to follow some of the many blogs that deal with grief and loss. 

Morbid, you may think.  All of us wallowing in our personal grief, having a collective pity party.  No so!  I find that when I need encouragement and hope, the best place to go is my fellow widows.  We are a plucky bunch, tis true.

I came across a blog by someone who is definitely "Not Your Average Widow" - that's the name of her blog, BTW.  Our military connection (both our husbands served in the armed forces) was what drew me first to the blog, then the fact that she is 3 years into her journey - not as new to this journey as I am, but someone to whom I can definitely relate.

Her post entitle "Project: Unleashed" caught my attention.  And sparked something inside of me.  I have been feeling many of the same things she speaks of in her post.  So I am posting her link here:

Please feel free to check out this post, and her blog.  :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reaching Out To The Hurting

(Found this on a website recently, and wanted to share it.  I have included my own perspective in parts.  It all rings true - and it speaks from my heart.)

Reaching Out to the Hurting

There she is, the newly widowed mom. Your heart hurts for her, but you don’t approach her. You just don’t know what to say. She looks your way and you pretend not to see her. You see intense grief in her eyes and you look away. You feel guilty and squeeze your husband’s hand. Seeing her awakens a fear that you have tried to keep buried—fear that something similar could happen to your family. It is natural for us to feel these emotions and pull away. It is difficult to know what to do and what to say to someone whose spouse has died. I have been on both sides of the situation and I implore you to let God expand your comfort zone and reach out.

Each individual’s grief is unique, yet every widow and widower is struggling to figure out how to function as half of a couple. One of the many intense emotions is feeling alone. Widows and widowers don’t want to be pitied. Instead they long for friends that are willing to encourage them on their journey.

Don’t avoid the widow or widower.
It communicates that no one cares. No matter the reason, we feel forgotten and abandoned.

Please pray and let the widow or widower know that you are praying.
Many, many times the prayers of my friends, as well as other Christians I have never met, have carried the girls and me through intensely emotional times. Knowing others were praying gave me the strength to keep breathing and continue putting one foot in front of the other.

Please reach out.
Many people often think family and friends have been reaching out to the grieving family, but fewer people are reaching out than you think, especially after the first three months as well as after the holidays are over. Don’t expect widows and widowers to seek you out. Grieving itself is intensely draining. We are also juggling work, helping children with their grief, legal and financial issues, and many other situations that we must face without our spouse. We have already felt family and friends pull away and we don’t risk being hurt again. You need to be the one to approach the widow or widower. What do you say? “We’ve been praying for you and the kids and I was wondering how you are really doing?” Then really listen. Or “I don’t know how you feel or what to say. But if it’s alright I’ll just sit here and let you know I care.”

Don’t be afraid you’ll make us cry.
Our tears don’t mean that you have hurt us. Our grief is our constant companion. Tears just mean our spouse was very special to us, and we miss them immensely. Let us feel it is okay to cry. Offer us a tissue, squeeze our hand, or put your hand on our shoulder. Better yet, weep with us.

Please speak our spouse’s name.
There is a special comfort to the girls and me when someone speaks Robby’s name, especially when they share a good memory or what they miss about him. Hearing my spouse’s name on the lips of others is like warm sunshine on a cold cloudy day; it’s soothing to the soul.

Don’t say “Call if you need anything.”
Often we don’t know exactly what we need and even if we do, it is very difficult to ask. Instead offer specific help. “I made a double batch of lasagna; I’ll bring it over around five.” and then include the recipe. “Could my son come mow your lawn or shovel your driveway?” “We are on the way to the park. Could your kids come with us? You could come along or enjoy some quiet time at home which ever you prefer.” “Could my husband and I come over and see how we could help you get the house ready for winter?” Sit by us during the choir concert or soccer practice, or at church. It is comforting to not sit alone.

Please keep your word.
Not keeping your word implies the same thing as avoiding us. Children are keenly aware of those who show they care, and those who don’t. Their whole world has turned upside down when a parent dies. Their security is shattered. Their trust is shaken. Their emotions are as tangled up as a ball of yarn. Show them they can count on you.

Don’t give advice unless asked.
Trust me, unsolicited advice is always in abundance for widows and widowers. Everyone else seems to know what to do about things we are unsure about. Our whole world has been turned upside down. We have had something happen that we did not have control over and are trying to listen to how God wants us to handle things. The more unwanted advise, the harder it is to discern God in it all.

Don’t judge our children.
As I said before, their emotions are a tangled mess. Sometimes their grief comes out as sadness, but often it is masked in anger, rudeness, depression, hyperactivity, or inattentiveness. Events you may consider normal in your everyday lives could be a grief trigger for our children. Again, don’t pity them. Be kinder than necessary yet lovingly firm.

Please share your spouse.
Let me clarify this. Don’t jump to conclusions or assumptions when a widow or widower talks to your spouse. We are used to hearing a different gender’s perspective on various issues. Letting us talk with your spouse in an appropriate setting is very helpful. I am very grateful to the ladies who have let me talk with their husband’s about lawyers and legal matters as well as landscaping and cars without jumping to the conclusion that I was a desperate woman trying to steal their husbands.

Please remember.
Special days like our wedding anniversary, anniversary of the death, birthdays (the missing spouse’s too) Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and holidays are especially difficult. A call, a small gift, a card, or email around these times is very meaningful. Before I was widowed, I thought after a year things were better. I now know that grief has no timetable. Like many widows and widowers, my first year was about survival, making it through all the “firsts” without my husband. The next year will be one of harsh realities that my husband will never be here again. I still have days when grief waves overwhelm me and my mind gets blanketed by fog.

Please continue being there.
We need to talk and share. We need friends who will listen without judgment and refresh us with their prayers and encouragement. We need friends who rally us to press on when we want to throw in the towel.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Gotta Get Me Some Stilettos

I am sharing with you a great book that I read recently.  If you are a widow (or know a widow) you will want to read this book (or share it with your friend.)  Here it is:

This is a great book - very honest about what it's like to be a young widow who is raising children.  Here are some of the reviews for the book, taken from the Amazon.com website:

"Carole Brody Fleet is changing the face and style of widowhood. It's a very unique look at an unusual problem these days that is affecting a lot of women." - Deborah Roberts, Correspondent, ABC News', "Good Morning America Now"

"Motivational speaker and coach Fleet, who was widowed at 40 and has since made numerous guest appearances on television and radio, offers a guide for women who have also experienced the loss of a partner at a young age. Fleet's presentation is frank and interspersed with bits of honest humor. The text is easy to read, with charts and tips sprinkled throughout. Fleet, with psychotherapist Harriet, provides information on how to organize details such as funeral arrangements, wills, social security, and insurance at a time when organization is the last thing a new widow may want to face. She discusses emotional, physical, and spiritual health and finishes by focusing on living the rest of your life. This is a book about hope, and women will want to read it and share it with others, regardless of marital status or age. An essential addition to every public library" - The Library Journal

"[The] author has created a wise and practical guide for young widows on how to recover, cope, heal, and find a fulfilling life." - Orange Coast Magazine

"Carole Brody Fleet offers advice and humor in the book,' Widows Wear Stilettos...' to help young widows cope with loss." - The Orange County Register

"A young widow holds out a helping hand to others who have lost their husbands" - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Most of the books that deal with widows and "widow-hood" that I have heard about or checked out from the library are geared toward those who are widowed later in life, whose children are grown and out of the house.  This book is unique in being practical and yet sensitive to the concerns of younger widows.  There are many stigmas still associated with being a widow, especially when you are "younger"  (can I still count myself a a "young widow?"  I guess according to this book I can.)

My biggest "take away" from reading this book was to remember that there are many "armchair quarterbacks" out there that have lots of advice - but you need to trust your own instincts and your heart.  Grief is a tricky emotion and only YOU can (and should) make the choices about what's best for you.  And it gives you practical tips about dealing with some common problems associated with navigating this time of grief.  Let me know what you think about the book!  :)

Here is Carol's blog as well:  Widows Wear Stilettos blog

Monday, July 2, 2012

In case you were wondering ...

About the title of this blog.  You already must have guessed that this is about grief and loss, and surviving all the challenges and changes associated with that state of being.  So it probably won't surprise you to find that the Bible verse referenced in the title is about widows and the fatherless:

Psalm 68:5

New International Version (NIV)
5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling. 

OK, that takes care of the verse part.  Here is the definition of "Restoral":

: an act of restoring or the condition of being restored: as a: a bringing back to a former position or condition : reinstatement <the restoration of peace> b: restitution c: a restoring to an unimpaired or improved condition

It's a noun, and means restoration, but it's an older form of the word.  And I like old words.  :)

So my daughters and I are trusting God for these promises:  that He will be a father to them now that their earthly father is no longer here, and that God will also be my protector and defender.  AND because of His great love, He will restore to us what has been lost, over and above what we expect or deserve.  How's that for a great promise!

So there you have it - why this blog is called what it's called.

New Beginnings at mid-year

This is a new beginning for me.  July 2nd, 2012.  It's been just over a year since my husband, Robby, passed away and I became a widow.  I am hoping this blog can benefit not only me, but others as well.  For me, I want this to allow me to work through some things as I slowly "hunt and peck" out my feelings and struggles.  And believe me, when you are raising a young child (and a not-so-young child) as a single mom after 20 years of marriage - there will be struggles.  Lots of them.

For others, maybe this can become a window into what it's like to put the pieces back together again.  Trying to make all the right choices, and shouldering all the consequences alone.  God has taught me so much over the past year - well, two years actually.  Ever since Robby was diagnosed with a brain tumor in June 2010, and then his passing in June 2011 and the year since then, my dependence upon God has deepened tremendously.

We had a BBQ over the weekend that mirrored the BBQ we had last year after Robby's memorial service.  Robby passed away on Father's Day last year - needless to say, June was a tough month for my daughters and I this year.  But his birthday was June 30th so we had his memorial service, followed by a BBQ for family and close friends, on that day last year.  This year we repeated the BBQ and were blessed to have several family members join us.  Earlier in the day the girls each made a stepping stone in honor of their dad for the new flower garden we are planting.

It's been a year of great changes.  Well, great as in BIG, not great as in good.  But overall, we have made it through the year in the best shape possible.  It's still a long road - contrary to popular belief, there is no set time limit on grief.  Grief continues to haunt for a long time, although things do get easier (THEY say) as time goes on.  All the first-year anniversaries and milestones have passed.  We are settling into our "new normal" - seems like our normal changes periodically.  Just as soon as we would get used to changes in Robby illness that first year and adapt to those, something else would happen and we would have to adapt again.  And the past year without him has been no exception.  Change is the rule around here, but we are not a Marine wife/daughters for nothing - we improvise, we adapt, we overcome.  Life goes on, and we know that God holds us in the palm of His hand.