I Have A Dream

I still identify as a widow, even years into this lonesome season. I struggle to remember the partnership which once defined me. Many questions haunt my thinking. For almost five years, I contemplated the past, those years before ‘we’, became ‘me’. I ask myself if my season of grief is coming to an end. Am I allowed to be happy again?

What do I do with the dream we shared as a couple? Should I build a new dream?

I can only speak from my own experience, my own life, and I am praying these words to speak into your life.
new houseMy husband Dave, visualized a retirement lived out in the north woods of Wisconsin. His dream included a cabin tucked away from all the busyness of the world. He longed for the day when his life held no more deadlines and the hours spent fishing, hunting, rebuilding motorcycles defined retirement.

A beautiful fantasy lived in my heart too, but my image did not look anything like the cabin in the woods scene. No fishing poles or guns or motorcycles dotted the horizon. A view out my window contained palm trees and sandy beaches. This window resembled the large windshield of an RV. I wanted to step outside my comfort zone, and travel to warm climates in the wmotor homeinter and visit friends I had yet to meet.

I longed to sit by the ocean and spend days on end writing, walking, and in general, dreaming up a good story to tell. I dreamed of visiting new cities and making friends along the way. Much like Promised Land, the 1996 TV show with Gerald McRaney.

Is the time to resurrect my dream or some version, at hand? Can one person cling to a dream all by herself? Am I too old to adventure into the unknown all on my own? So many questions and only God holds the answers.

A few days ago while reading from the devotional book, Jesus Calling, this sentence struck me, “I can bring beauty out of the ashes of lost dreams.” Perhaps this is my answer.

Moving Forward

Mmove forwardonths have passed since my last post on May 23rd.  The usual reasons come to mind, one being I am busy with work. I consider myself blessed to hold a job I love and one which suits me so well, especially in this season of life. I am not complaining, just stating a fact.

Maybe the real reason for my lack of writing for this blog is I no longer identify with the label of ‘widow.’ Although widow describes my marital status it no longer defines me. During the 3-1/2 years since Dave’s passing, change was a certainty. My outlook on life graduated from half of a whole (a couple) to a floundering half (grieving widow) to a complete person who is now single again and ready to move forward.

Forward is a vast expanse of unknowns, uncertainty, and unexpected blessings. “Even in darkness the light dawns for the upright.” (Psalm 111:4) Going through the valley of death, is unquestionably a darkness, but also a time when God’s light shines by reflecting off of the Body of Believers who surround me. That season was a time when I witnessed God’s command for us to ‘carry each other’s burdens,’ (Galatians 6:2) carried out to the fullest.

Opportunity awaits.  My dreams haven’t changed. My passions are still a vital part of who I am. God created me with a certain purpose and I am still discovering my purpose. I have a good idea what much of His plan is, but I feel there is still more He wants to reveal to me in His good and perfect time.

I might get caught up in the moment now and then, and reflect on the past and dwell on the, should haves and if only’s, that only lasts a short time. By morning when I turn to my journal with coffee cup in hand, find the reading for today in my devotional, and open my Bible, God shows up.  Again I am rescued from my self-pitying ways and thrust back into the reality that my life is good.

I am often drawn to a favorite verse, Jeremiah 33:3. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” I take this verse personally and cling to it, sensing God is telling me to hang in there. He has some surprises waiting for me, surprises which will take my breath away!  I no longer identify as a widow, but a new creation, and one God still has a plan for.

Let’s Have a Dream

Tomorrow – Staying in the moment is wise counsel, not fearing tomorrow’s troubles is good advice.  But, being open to tomorrow is necessary.  We must hold on to the fact we have a future, we just don’t have a clear picture of it yet – not that we ever did, but we had plans and dreams.

This week during my early morning time with God I was beginning to get a better idea of what He wanted for my life.  I was starting to see His plan and His dreams for me. The words in the devotional book I was reading touched my spirit.  “Do not be afraid to enter the cloud descending on your life, for God is in it.”dreams

I can’t count the number of times during this season of grief that God comforted or counselled me through the words in this book. “I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”  (Psalm 121:1-2 NIV) I may be in a cloud of grief, pain and uncertainty, but God is right there with me.  I can feel His presence.

Plans and Dreams – Getting back to plans and dreams.  About two years in to my state of widowhood I began to realize that I did not have any dreams, nothing in the future to look forward to. That wasn’t because I was so caught up in Dave’s death that I didn’t want to live; no, it was because my dreams were our dreams, they are now history.  

I came to the conclusion I needed to have my own visions of tomorrow.  I need a new fresh reason to get out of bed in the morning. It is the perfect time to follow my heart, to stick close to God and seek out new experiences.  There is joy to be found in this new life I am living.  There is excitement to embrace and a New Beginning to explore.

Grace ‘n Grins
Judy

Streams in the Desert

 Streams in the Desert is the book I refer to above.  You can read here.

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

Sail On

ImageI mentioned in a prior post about using a WORD each month to contemplate, study and embrace. Part of this process is talking it over with God, asking for His guidance and wisdom to reveal the one word I need to study for a season.  A number of years ago my word was perseverance and you can imagine where God took me with that one.  But I am grateful I had that word during that time in my life because it helped me to see that everything worth having is worth waiting for.

Perseverance was the title of a devotion I read this morning. The text referred to Christopher Columbus and his tenacity in the face of all sorts of trouble. He and his crew encountered storms, experienced hunger, faced deprivation and extreme discouragement while sailing to find new paths to other lands.  The account of his journey, the words written in the ships log repeatedly voiced the sentiment, “Today, we sailed on.”

That is perseverance, the ability to face the storms of life, to lean into the winds of opposition and still declare, today we sailed on.  These words struck me as I prayed and wrote in my journal today, the first day of a new year; the first day of the rest of my life. This past year brought with it a major attitude adjustment for this writer.  I recognized the value of dropping to my knees in prayer.  I know that prayer works in any posture, but for me, on my knees is a visual of submission.  Total submission to God changed my life.

As a widow, each day is a different challenge, a fresh outlook with new outcomes ahead. Where are you on this journey?  How long have you been in the midst of your future without your spouse in the picture?  What are you feeling today, New Year’s Day?  Regret?  Doubt?  Fear?  I want to hear from you?  Is there something you want me to address in this blog?  Please share your thoughts with me.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)  The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

If you don’t want to comment in the section below, send me an email at judithannie.webb@yahoo.com

Grace ‘n Grins in the New Year

Judy