47 and Counting…

Let’s talk about anniversaries, a topic that is an issue for widows. There are those ‘firsts’ we tend to cry our way through – an entire year of them. First Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays and ultimately the wedding anniversary.

As time goes on, we move into the second, and third and the fifth years. Tell me, do you still observe your wedding anniversary? How do you approach this day? In the past I would post something on his Facebook page, but not this year. Something is different this year. I am no longer a grieving widow, but a woman who treasures memories of 40+ years of marriage to the same man. Not all the memories are ones I dare to write about, or even remember, but most of them are now a sweet compilation of days gone by.

Some remember my husband as an outstanding business man, some recall his unique and quick sense of humor. Still others remember the testimony he shared at a men’s retreat or at a Kairos Prison Ministry weekend. His story touched many men and changed some lives while bolstering their faith walk. These are the memories worth treasuring and reliving. God’s presence in his life changed everything – and that is what I remember best.

My husband and I shared a running joke. Each April 7th, on our anniversary, we would recognize the number of years we were celebrating and acknowledge how many remained until our 50th. We laughed as we recalled his mom telling us, “I don’t give it 6 months.” I don’t know what prompted this negative statement, but perhaps she understood her son better than his bride. I believe that as she got to know me, she changed her tune, for we never heard those words again.

Dave died a few weeks before our 41st, but I am still counting to 50. I am not sure what happens then, maybe nothing, but I feel the need to finish this tradition. So, forty-seven and counting…

A Widow and Prayer

My prayer life has developed and grown since I lost my husband almost five years ago. Prayer was one practice I could perform that would help me feel safe and secure. I discovered that prayer provided comfort and served as an outlet for my emotions.  When I didn’t feel I could get through another moment, prayer brought me into the Presence of God.BP4P

Not long ago, I was looking for a new devotional for my early morning quiet time when I discovered, The Battle Plan for Prayer by the Kendrick brothers. This book, inspired by the feature film, War Room, is a 35-day reading plan. It is centered on prayer: types of prayer, postures of prayer, rhythms and strategies for prayer and so much more.

I use this book as part of my morning routine and when I turned the last page, I started all over again. You will find this book an inspiration and a motivation to pray. It helped me to examine why I pray and then revealed my areas of weakness. The scripture references are sound, and they direct the reader to a closer relationship with The One who makes all the difference.

Each daily reading takes about 10 minutes, providing an opportunity to dig deeper into God’s Word by looking up scripture references, or, if you are like me, you can open your journal and begin a dialog with God about what you heard during your time with Him. Talk it over with Him and know that He hears.

Prayer is described on the pages of this book as, “…our armored tank…our major assault weapon in battle.” You will want to keep your colored pens or highlighter handy as you work your way through the pages of The Battle Plan for Prayer. No matter if you find yourself feasting on His Word daily, or if you struggle to make time for it, this little book can help you on our journey to pray with more intentionality and with faith.

Each daily reading ends with a prayer which launches the reader into the day set before them. I would highly recommend this to a new Believer or a veteran prayer warrior. If you are a newly-wed or a newly-widowed there is comfort, hope, and direction to be found in these pages.

Merry Christmas,

Grace ‘n Grins,
Judy

Grieving with Grace

The title of this blog, Widowhood – so much more than grief, suggests there are many facets of grief.  Each one of us experiences grief differently and we walk through this haze with varying degrees of angst.  The variation comes in the way we grieve, the memories we have stockpiled over the years and the experiences we shared.  Differing personalities come in to play as do family dynamics.  Moreover, we don’t grieve alone.  Our friends, co-workers and family members also grieve our loss.

The widows group I mentioned in my last blog post has been a great source of comfort.  choose joyThe comfort comes from knowing we are not alone in our grief. We share an understanding, a common bond which gives us the right to let the tears flow when we are together. This group is learning to laugh again and even speak of the laughter that used to be part of living.  We also talk about the guilt we feel because we fear what others think.

The reality is people watch us.  Some scrutinize with a critical eye, deciding on their own when enough should be enough.  Some tell of conversations with friends who admonish our behavior saying, “It is time you get over it. He’s been dead a year already.  Besides, you know he is in a better place.”  Nods of agreement around the room confirm this.  We have all been assaulted with this type of comment.

On the other side of the coin there are those who think our memory of our spouse is fading too fast.  We are smiling too quickly. Even going out to dinner and a movie with friends offends them. It isn’t easy, but to everyone who has an opinion about how I grieve I say boldly, “Mind your own business. If the day comes you are in this situation, come to me and we’ll have a conversation.”

It is so good to come together each week and just talk.  We have no particular agenda, we simply share our lives.  Memories will arise, tears will fall, and always the Grace of God fills the room. His presence is apparent when hugs from Heaven are experienced within the arms of one another.

Each of us understands that life is different now.  When grief is fresh, we cannot see a future with any joy.  By spending time with others who have walked this road for a few years, we know there is hope that tomorrow will be better.  Today smells of stale winter air, but there is a fresh fragrance almost within reach.  Spring is nearing. Get ready to throw open the windows!

John 16:20 (NIV) I tell you the truth; you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

Grace ‘n Grins,

Judy

Strength in Numbers

strength in numbersI belong to a support group for widows called New Beginnings.  The purpose of this group isn’t to sit around and bemoan our mutual loss, but to talk out loud those things others don’t want to hear.  We admit to being part of an elite group, a group no one wants to be a member of, but once joined, are thankful for each other’s company.

For some it is the first time in a long time laughter found its way into our voices. By the end of the hour meeting we realize how good it is to laugh again. It is said that misery loves company and maybe this is true.  The camaraderie found in a group of this sort is irreplaceable. We draw strength from our common bond and are encouraged by the stories shared.

One of the things widows fear, is that things will never be the same again.  We not only grieve the loss of a partner and soul-mate, but we mourn other things that death took away.  Our friends will sometimes fade into the back ground.  Not knowing how to relate to us any longer they leave us alone.  Some tell about the relationships they had as a couple disappear, almost as if they were afraid of ‘catching’ something.

Another loss is financial stability. Most of the women in my group had their partner at their side for 10, 30 and even 60 years.  Difficult times were faced together.  Trouble had to take on both of them together, there was a safety in numbers.  Not so any more.  But, those of us who have more than a year under our belts are just starting to see that perhaps there can be a future.

hair partWhen I first thought of forming this exclusive group, I was thinking it needed to be focused on change.  I was looking in the mirror one morning and trying to get my hair to do what I wanted it to do.  All of a sudden I was inspired to part my hair on the other side.  Later that day thought occurred to me that this is just what I am looking for in the widows group.  We are all facing new normal’s in our life and just maybe it is time to ‘part our hair on the other side.’

It is time for me to change things up again. It is almost three three years since my husband died, so it is indeed time for me to see things from a new perspective. Life may be different, but it is still good.  Perhaps I should say ‘good once more.’  During the past three years I spent more time talking out loud in my home.  The silence was too much for me to live with so I began talking to God.  Okay, some days my dogs think I am talking to them, but my vocal conversations are really me talking things over with God.

The insight and faith I have gained during these little talks beefed up my trust in my Savior. He and I have a new relationship; I complain and He encourages me.  I question and He reassures me.  I cry out to Him and He comforts me.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Grace ‘n Grins,

Judy