Had a wonderful experience getting to take the widows from church to a conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas, it’s call The Abundant Living Retreat!
I had written an article that got published in the magazine for the winter issue and it was talking about Tiffany and I’s widow’s ministry at church. Here is the link to the magazine if you would like to subscribe!
Here is the article:
I remember four of us sitting in the fellowship hall of the church. All wearing masks, sitting at least six feet apart, having a meeting about our widows and shut-ins at our church. A couple of the elders’ wives were present and then one of my best friends and I were joining them.
We discussed how lonely the widows and shut-ins were and how isolated they felt. Mind you, we were just starting back to meet again for services due to COVID. We considered how the elderly population were affected more by fear and loneliness than we were even aware of. We all agreed something needed to be done!
So my friend and I asked the elders’ wives, “what can we do?” We wanted to help! They replied, “We want them to get plugged back in at church, we want them to feel like they are loved and cared about. We don’t want them to feel forgotten”.
So that was our task! So we decided to meet with a christian counselor in town to get materials on bereavement. We also wanted help to know how to be sympathetic during this time of loss and grief. Also, on how we could encourage them. She helped us with all the above! We felt like we should just start a womens widows group!
So we sat down with those same elders’ wives and went through our church directory making sure no one was missed and everyone was invited that qualified.
Invitations were sent and all the widows were invited to our first, “Gals That Gather” tea party! We had five different types of hot tea, we had scones and a mix and match of tea cups for the perfect tea party! We talked and got to know each other better, it was the beginning of a monthly gathering.
Every month we meet together! We might meet at our fellowship building to eat, do an activity like painting or flower arranging. We might play games or put together goody bags for shut-ins or other friends at church. But our favorite thing to do with them is take them on day trips!!
We all meet at the church and load up on the church bus! They do not need to bring anything but some spending money for lunch or a souvenir. We have driven them to Oklahoma City and rode the trolley and water taxi. We toured The Lodge and ate at the Pioneer Woman! We enjoyed a picnic at a state park and took a ride on the kiddy train, just for fun! We went on a fall foliage tour and ended up in another state because we almost ran out of gas! We got a good laugh after that trip!
The church bus ride is fun too! There are trivia games and prizes to be won! Name that tune and scavenger hunts as we drive down the road. Questions and answers, then we reminisce about childhood memories. I love hearing about them going to school and neat things about their childhood!
But most of all, it’s the time well spent with other sisters in Christ. The precious thing about getting them together is that each of them know how hard some days are alone. They all share the bond of having someone they love, gone, and them feeling lost, some days. Crying together and talking about their mates with others is equally important. They know how comforting it is to remember those sweet memories of their spouse and know they are in good company.
Traveling and hosting this Gal’s That Gather is one of my favorite things to do! That meeting almost two years ago was one of the most important meetings of my life and I will forever be changed for the better for getting to know these strong and resilient ladies. They all long to get to heaven to see their loved ones but I’m enjoying a little heaven on earth with them!
So anyway, we were asked to speak on a panel discussion with one of the speakers, Mr. Dean Miller. He has a Widowhood Workshop Ministry that encourages and supports widows and widowers. He shared how he was a widower and how churches could have more resources and tools for widows and widowers. It was very eyeopening and Tiffany and I both learned a lot from him as we shared the stage with him!
We enjoyed the sessions that the retreat offered with speakers and then had sessions of singing that everyone enjoyed as well!
One of the outing the retreat was offering was a trolley ride to see all the tourist attractions of Hot Springs, Arkansas! So of course we jump at the chance to get to take a tour! It was a very informative ride with lots of places to stop and look and explanation from the driver! We even got to get out and try some water that is from one of the springs.
We ate, we laughed, we sang and we enjoyed ourselves so much!
If you have any questions or need any support in regard to a widow or widowers program, Tiffany and I would be extremely excited to share with you what we do! Just leave a comment below!