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…

Trials and Blessings

hopeEach morning I start my day with a cup of coffee, my Bible, journal, a devotional book, and of course an assortment of colored pens.  Did I ever mention I have a “type A” personality?  I love to have my ducks in a row. Give me a spreadsheet, color-code the tabs and I am prepared to fearlessly face any situation.

The daily devotional book I use most days is Streams in the Desert.  This mighty little book, written many years ago and revised a few times, is a wonderful start to any day.  I have recommended it to a number of friends who were looking for something to get their day off right.

I can’t begin to tell you how often God has used this, used a Scripture from a given day, to reach me, to teach me, to prepare me and comfort me.  I have written personal comments on many of the pages; notes of crying out to God for answers, observations of His answers and a memo here and there affirming God’s presence, His love and His care.

This little book and I have been through much together.  I’m not sure when I started reading it but I began making notes in the margins in 2007.  I can pull out a journal from that year and match it up to a margin note and remember just what was happening in my life that day.  As you can imagine, there are some things I don’t really want to remember that often, but what a blessing it is to see how God has been there, working in the background of my life until I pulled Him up and into the center.  I have found that God doesn’t force His way in, He will wait until invited; but once you let Him in life will never be the same!

There was a time in our married life when Dave and I did not really believe in much of anything.  We knew who God was and had heard of Jesus, but it didn’t mean anything to us.  For years we plodded through life like this. We experienced a moment of happiness here and there, but not endless joy.  There was a glimmer of a good life sprinkled about, but no hope for tomorrow.

We didn’t know we were missing anything. Through a series of changes in our life, we moved to Ohio, met a few new people; were exposed to church through an invitation by the mother of one of our daughters. It took many years, but we finally grew in our faith – together.  That is the key; that is what makes the loss bearable.  We grew together.  If I did not know that my husband of 40+ years knew Jesus like he did I could not have said goodbye with joy and hope.

The November 23rd reading in Streams in the Desert had these words for me: “the trials of life are sent to make us, not break us.” It was trials that brought Dave and me to Jesus.  It was those same trials that grew us in faith, and kept us together.

Psalm 61:3-4 (NIV)  For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.

Grace and Grins,

Judy

Widowhood – so much more than grief

Dave and I 2009

It has been almost three years since mhusband died.  These three years have been filled with many new feelings and thoughts.  So much change to face, so much newness. At a time when life should be getting easier, when the struggles and challenges should be diminishing, death makes an appearance.

It is not as if it was unexpected, we all know that life comes to an end when we get older; it is the natural order. The truth is, sixty-two is not old, but I did not expect to wear the title of widow so soon, if ever.

The first year following an event of this sort is filled with facing what is coming to be called, a new normal.  I find that the one thing I longed for during my 40+ years of marriage was to experience some time alone.  I enjoyed it when my husband would go on a trip for a week or so – I loved the opportunity to do whatever I liked whenever I wanted.  If I wanted to eat once a day or half a dozen times, I would do it.  I had no one to think about but myself; no one to plan for or consider but me.

But now, I have all this freedom and would give it up to go back to where I was 3 years ago…or would I?  Knowing what I know now, would I, should I even dream to go back?  I know that my husband has moved to a new place where he spends time in the presence of God.  He wouldn’t want to come back here.  So why would I want to waste my days dreaming or longing for that to happen.  It is time to move on.  It is time to make a new life.  It is okay to do both of these things, it will just be different.

Life is all about change.  If we did not change we would not grow, learn, nor live to the fullest. A new attitude is what I need.  I need a fresh outlook and a few laughs along the way. A strong clasp on the seatbelt of life will help also, as it is going to be a bumpy ride. I anticipate the ride will take me to the scariest of heights and then rapidly nose dive to the depths of despair. There are many changes waiting, mostly good ones, but scary all the same.

I look forward to sharing with you, some of my journey, and I would love to hear about yours.

Psalm 90:1-2 (NIV) Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Grace ‘n Grins,