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…

It’s Okay!

its okayIt is already December 23, can you believe it?  For some of us, it can’t go by too quickly to suit us, for others, we have had such a difficult time getting our act together that we are crying out for the clock to stop ticking.  If you find yourself in either camp, it is okay.  It is all okay, and that is my mantra this holiday season.  Don’t worry, don’t stress, just do what you can when you can.  If others have a problem with that, it is their problem, not yours, not mine.

To be honest, this, my third Christmas Season as a widow, is easier than I expected.  The second one was the most difficult and many will say the same thing.  The second year is the toughest. That said, there are times when memories will assail our thoughts and happiness will fade for a few minutes or hours; even days for that matter. But, all in all, this third year brought the return of joy.

I wrote about memories in the last post and just wanted to say a little bit more about this.  Our memories are likely to overtake our mood at some point during this season.  Just go with it.  Memories are good, they remind us that we are still alive and they keep us from going into denial.

One memory I will deal with this Christmas Eve, and probably every other one from here on out, is the fact that it was Christmas Eve when we called upon Hospice for help. There was finality as well as relief in this act.  I am sure many of you can relate.

You have your thoughts on this topic and I would love to hear them.  What is the most difficult thing about observing the Christmas Season?  What is the blessing you have experienced?  Jesus is the reason for the season, and while this saying might be over-used it is still true.  Just think of the memories Jesus’ mother ‘pondered’ each year on her Son’s birthday.  I leave you with these words.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14)  

Merry Christmas
Grace ‘n Grins,

Judy

Sweet and Sour

photoI could hardly write about my thoughts and experiences as a widow without visiting the topic of memories and holidays.  The first year is filled with firsts; first birthday, first anniversary, first Thanksgiving and first Christmas, to mention the obvious. There are other ‘firsts’ we all experience, but that is for another post.

This Christmas season memories are everywhere.  Regardless if this is your first Christmas without your spouse, or your fifth or twenty-fifth, moments of sadness will creep in to dampen your mood.  I am learning that this is not only normal, it is good.  It keeps us out of denial and helps us to face today with fond memories, even if garnished with a tear here and there.  It is all okay. Memories are good; they keep the loved one alive in our hearts.

Christmas was a favorite holiday for my husband, so I feel it is important to keep that spirit alive.  We knew the real reason for the season was to celebrate Jesus’ birth and our salvation.  It is also important to understand that Jesus wants us to party on His birthday.  He wants us to sing and to enjoy one another, and that is just what we do. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:14)

One Christmas our family took a vacation to Hawaii.  We remember that Christmas each year, as one of our most memorable times together as family.  To this day it stands out as a great Christmas, for so many reasons.  There are also some memories not so sweet, some might even say they were sour, but such is the way of life.

This holiday, don’t allow the memories to dampen the festivities, use them to bring joy to the moments.  Because Jesus’ birth means salvation to those who believe, we have every reason to party on!  We have so much reason to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”

Grace ‘n Grins,

Judy

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