Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Glance Behind, a Peek Ahead

Today's pics are from my daughter's graduation from college (right) and my trip to WV to visit friends (left).

I can hardly believe it's almost a year since Vinnie passed away, just shy three days. So much has happened in this year, and so much is changing. I find myself reflective and thinking about the best days of my whole life - when we were a young family. I still miss Saturday family days. Every Saturday was a special day to go somewhere and do something special as a family. The girls were sweet. We were a sweet family. As the years rolled on, life brought many challenges, and the girls got older and starting finding their own way in life, Vinnie and I thought about what the years ahead would hold for us. We had dreams of buying an RV and driving all over America and Canada sight seeing and doing some kind of ministry with kids on weekends at churches, bringing the Gospel to families through art and games and songs. We thought about bringing our grand children to Disney. We had many ideas. None will come to pass.

Now, I am considering school, working but praying for a better paying job, one that fulfills my passions, and trying to fit time in for visits with my kids and grand children. My evenings are no longer filled with old movies and dreaming with my hubbie. Now they are filled with conversations with girlfriends on FaceBook, Skype and emails. And there's the option of school. I didn't finish very much college when I was younger. Recently I was accepted at the college at Southeastern Theological Baptist Seminary but I can't afford to go without scholarships. I got accepted so late in the summer that I can't get scholarships now so I won't be able to go until next fall! So now I am looking into other college options. The bottom line is that I am not a wife and Mommy anymore. I'm single and support myself. There's no retirement, no Social Security (like there used to be for widows years ago). I've got to create some kind of work that will support me for the rest of my life. I won't survive on the income of a "second job" for much longer! Work was just a second job all these years. Now it is my sole source of income.

I believe God is directing my path and that I will be more and more involved in women's ministry, most specifically, widow ministry. I am hosting/leading a retreat for widows in October that I am calling, Widows Peek (thus part of the title of this blog post). The retreat is the result of asking God why He was bringing so many widows in my life - and so many of them feeling like me and asking, "How do you want to use me, Lord?" As I asked Him, I began also asking, "How do you want to use us?" I thought it would be helpful to provide a time and place where we could meet for prayer and reflection, sharing and rest. Such a provision became available! so far 9 widows from this area and as far west as TN and as far south as FL are coming!

So in October I hope that God will reveal the next step in His plan for my life. And I keep looking ahead hoping that there is purpose and fullfilment in each step. I just don't want to go on without making a difference in people's lives. I can't see any other reason to be alive. Yet, I also can't stop glancing back over my shoulder too - thanking God that He gave the first half of my adult life such purpose, fullfullment and joy. I am so blessed to have been married to a man so full of life with such a servant heart. I am so blessed to have sweet memories of my little girls and sweet times as a family. I am so blessed to know the Lord who lives in me and has used all things in my life for my good and His glory. And I am blessed that God will continue to use me, a wretched, good for nothing sinner, a loser without Him, to give Him glory in the days and years ahead. Only God of the Universe can do that through someone like me. It is my joy to be a vessel for His redemptive work on earth. I live on.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Widows Peek Retreat

If you've read any part of my blog (which is an ongoing story written since October 2008 to now, I've met dozens of widows! I thought I would meet one or two around my age after Vinnie died, so I have been surprised to meet so many in such a short time. Many of these women have expressed a desire to minister to other widows in a variety of ways or are looking for ways to help. Many of them are already GriefShare leaders and/or facilitators but are open to God using them in other ways too.

After many months of prayer and sensing God was up to 'something', I am marching forward in faith to put together a retreat for widowed women who feel compelled to minister to other widowed women. The retreat, being held the weekend of Oct 9-10-11, 2009 just north of Raleigh, NC just north of the Virginia border will be a time of worship, fellowship, prayer, rest, reflections in God's Word and an opportunity to learn about what other ministries for widows already exist. It is our hope to build a strong fellowship and network of widows involved or who desire to be involved in ministry for widows, to learn about what others are doing, and to express the areas they see are a wide spread need.

Though space is limited (no more than a total of 17) for this weekend, we want to see every woman with input or willingness to share to join us! To learn more about the retreat, comment in this post and I will be happy to contact you and send more information. If you cannot attend but wish to be on a team who will pray for this team and our weekend together, let me know that in the comment section and I'll be happy to send prayer requests as we approach the retreat weekend.