New Year Resolution’s – Or Not

New Year Resolution’s – Or Not

New Year’s resolutions are not something that I have ever taken seriously.  Probably because I can never keep them.  Perhaps I just do not have enough will power to keep them or it just doesn’t matter to me.

Looking back on 2016 and contemplating on what 2017 may bring, what would I change or could I change?  At this point, I  certainly cannot change anything from 2016 but there are possibilities for 2017.

For some reason as the year of 2016 closes, I decided to check into what this all means regarding making resolutions.  Making resolutions goes back about 4,000 years to the Babylonians who made promises to their gods at the start of each year that would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus which the month of January is named. 

There are similar religious parallels.  During Judaism’s New Year, from Rosh Hashanah through High Holiday and culminating Yom Kippur is to reflect upon one’s wrong doings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.  In the Christian liturgical season of Lent, the holiday is more of a sacrifice than of responsibility.  The idea, regardless of creed, is to reflect on self-improvement regularly.

That’s it for your history lesson of Resolutions but it did get me thinking that there may be something to making New Year’s Resolutions!..  I do think it is a good idea to reflect on where we have been, where we might want to go and decide on how we want to get there. 

Perhaps 2016 was not a good year for you.  You may have lost someone very close to you.  Someone who you were hoping to spend the rest of your life with.  You may be think you have been robbed and perhaps you were.  So how does one handle New Year’s Resolutions?  I will admit and agree it isn’t easy.  Psalms 121:2 reads:  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  I often wonder how people handle great loss without God in their lives.   
Perhaps you are thinking – what would I choose for a new resolution this year?  Baby steps are the best.  What do you want to get through today or this week?  Where do you hope to be emotionally in six months or by next year?   Take it slow and take small steps.  Know that God is with you each step of the way!

With a New Year upon us, comes a new beginning – letting go what I cannot change and looking forward to what will become.  Perhaps by making a conscience decision to keep our eyes wide open to the positive changes that come into our lives.  Being aware of someone else in need to be there with a hug, a kind word or just to listen.

As you enter this New Year, may you feel God’s arms wrapped around you!

Blessings to you as you begin 2017.  

Holiday Ready or Not…

Holiday Ready or Not…

Holidays have always been an important part of our lives especially in our religious circles.  Growing up in a large family, we didn’t have much.  We did always have food on our table, clothes to wear and were loved.  It wasn’t until I was about eleven or twelve that I realized that there were a lot of others that had a lot more than I did.  I remember asking my mom why we only received one present as little kids when others received several.  Instead of focusing on what we didn’t have, my mom chose this as a lesson on what we did have.  As I grew older, I realized that little talk would do me more good than I would ever know. 

Holidays were always so special.  Being I was one of the younger siblings, it was sad for me as each of the older siblings move out of our home either to get married, go into the military or went off to work.  But each holiday, they would all come back home (except for those in the military) for the holiday meal.  Our table was always decorated with the ‘good’ dishes and a centerpiece tied to the holiday.  There was anticipation of others arriving and three of my dad’s sisters always joined us bringing treats.  Amazing how when we are young, life just floats by, everything seems so rosy.

With Thanksgiving behind us for this year and the Christmas holiday just around the corner, this can be the time of year that may be very difficult for many people.  I remember the first Thanksgiving as a teenager when two of my brothers were in the Army and stationed in Korea and one of my sister-in-law’s was tragically killed in a car accident on the way to church.  Oh how I question God about what He was thinking.  How could that happen!  Things like this were not supposed to happen.  But life does happen.  Many of you have lost a loved one that you were very close to.  You had plans for the future with them.  You had dreams.  

One verse that comes to mind is Psalm 34:18 which reads:  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  What I like about this verse is the promise from God that He is there for you and I.  Does this mean it will be easy?  Absolutely not.  

It’s the small steps we take along the road.  The small reminder that God is with us.  The note you may receive in the mail.  The phone call from a friend or family member.  A text message or an email.  A smile or that hug from someone who has walked in your shoes.  May I suggest you jot down a little thing that happens to you that makes you smile?  You may not see something each day but before you know it, the list will become a sign to you that God is with you helping you see the little things in life.

I often think of the conversation I had with my mom as a little girl and realize how right she was.  Life isn’t about what I don’t have but about what I do have.   Yes I miss those who have gone onto heaven.  The amazing part is that one day I will see them again. 

The first couple of years after my husband died, the holidays were difficult.  In talking with others who have lost their spouse, they have shared things they have done to help through this new season of their lives.  A few suggestions may be:
  •  If you are one that hangs Christmas stockings and are not sure whether to hang one for the you have lost – Perhaps have family members write something they remember about that person.  It can be something funny or something they miss.  Perhaps a fun trip or conversation.  Then take turns pulling out the notes and reading them.
  • Purchasing a Christmas ornament in their honor.
  • Lighting a candle in their honor.
  •  I know this one is going to sound strange – but helping others helps you also.  Perhaps calling or visiting someone going through what you have gone through this past year.

Please believe me when I tell you that you will laugh again!  The holidays will get easier!  God has promised to never leave us.   He wants you to be happy and smile again – and so would your loved one. 

I pray you find God’s peace as you try to get through these first holidays without your loved one.  May you feel God’s arms wrapped around you! 

Peace and blessings to each of you.

Perseverance

Perseverance   
What comes to your mind when you think of perseverance?   Are you thinking you’re in for the long haul?  Do you imagine that it’s a bad thing of a good thing?  Will perseverance be difficult or easy?  Do you feel defeated just thinking about it or do you jump in with both feet and tell yourself you can do it? 
Life is full of challenges – some good, some not so good and others are great.  Personally, I occasionally like a good challenge.  However, little did I realize when I became a widow, it would be a journey of perseverance that at times became challenging.  In the beginning, there were so many things to do.  It seemed like there were so many expectations.  How was I going to get through this new life!   Did I truly believe that God would help me through this journey?  Would I be able to walk this new path and thrive? 
As I think about the word perseverance – I think of something that is going to take a long time.  Unfortunately I am a time oriented task oriented person.  I like things completed in a timely fashion or manner.  However, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of perseverance as steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles or discouragement.  Perseverance does not have a time frame and we should not be discouraged about how or when something is completed.
As I was reading the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18, she definitely was preserving in prayer.  In this parable there are two characters – the wicked judge who only cares about himself and the vulnerable widow.  According to the story, her husband had not left her much to live on and there were not any government programs to help her out in Biblical times.  The judge kept putting her off but she was persistent.  This judge did not fear God and really didn’t care, finally granted her request to her off his back.  Even though his judge was unrighteous, there is a lesson to be learned about preserving in prayer with God is there and will answer our prayer if we believe.
It is so easy to grieve regarding mistreatment or difficult times.   Life is not always easy and sometimes simply unfair.   When we were young and first married, we looked to the future of growing old together and it seems unfair that we didn’t.  So many things to look forward to…..  Life happens and things just do not always go as we have planned do they?  However, in Hebrews 13:5 – God has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  The answer is our vindication or our prayer requests may be different from one another but God will do the right thing when we pray with faith unto the end.
Perseverance is not about getting what we want but about believing that God hears us and will provide for our needs. It’s about trusting God to do what is right by either giving us our desire of correcting it.
As I reflect on perseverance, it may not always be easy.  I had other plans for my life for sure.  But knowing God is with me each step of the way, knowing I do not have to go down this path alone, brings peace and hope.  We are not perfect nor will we be here on earth.  James 1:12 reads:   Blessed is the one who perseveres…. That person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those that love him. 
So don’t lose heart…. God is never ever bothered by our prayers.   Perseverance is trusting God’s will see you through.  While we tire in our pain, God desires for us continue living by faith.  I will admit that sometimes I wonder when I’m asking God for an answer or direction in my life, it seems like I’m talking to an answering machine and wonder if He ever checks the messages.  Ever feel that way?  The time will come when you can look back and see God’s hand in your life.  You will be able to see God’s arms have wrapped around you and sometimes just carried you through.  That will be the time you will be able to walk along side of another widow going through what you have gone through.  They will see that with God’s help you have thrived.  Will you ever forget?  Probably not but you will have learned to walk forward and see that God has helped you through this journey. 

God is with you each step of the way!   😇

Patience

Patience………
As many that know me well, know that patience is not one of my virtues.  Last May, I woke up to get ready to head to Phoenix to see my son’s and their family.  My flight on American Airlines was scheduled to 11:10.  However, I arrived at MSP airport two hours early as scheduled only to find out the plane was delayed.   The plane had arrived the night before and there was an issue with the breaks which they had to order a part for.   The ‘new ‘time of departure was 12:30, then it became 3:00. Then 1:30 and then it was 2:30.  I wished I lived closer to the airport so I could have gone home but with all of the changes, that probably wouldn’t have mattered.  Thank goodness for the Internet, my cell phone, nice conversations with others waiting to head to Phoenix, the time hasn’t been as bad as it could have been.  But then – ask me in an hour if we still haven’t left yet. 

As I think about the time I have spent here at the airport, I am surprised at myself for not getting crazy frustrated with sitting here.   I’ve been able to get some blogging done, visit on the phone with friends I haven’t talked to in a while and just sit back and people watch. 

My reflection is, what am I learning from this?  I’ve been thinking lately about what God is trying to say to me.  What direction am I going in?  Am I going in the right direction?  Am I hearing what God is saying?  Am I doing what God would have me to do?   I’m finding that I am in the time of my life where I sense I am where HE would have me to be and I’m enjoying that more than I could ever imagine.  

Earlier this year I was feeling that things were happening so fast and I wasn’t sure I was listening.  
I’ve been able to sort things out, regroup and feel that I am listening to Gods direction and finding myself so excited to see where He is taking me.  I’m able to let go of some things and allow others to take over.  I love seeing other’s grow in Him also and watch them being led in the direction of where He would have them be.  I love to follow God’s direction to encourage these precious people in my life.  Reminds me of Proverbs 19:11 which reads a person’s wisdom yields patience, it is one’s glory to overlook an offence. 
As I reflect on patience – lack of or allowing myself to be more patient, I’m able to sit back and wait for things to happen and see what He is doing in my life.  Putting it down on paper wheree I am in life and what God is doing in my life whether it’s big or small.   So perhaps I’ve leaned my lesson….   Maybe yes maybe no. As I finally boarded my flight, it seems patience has paid off.  It’s the little things in life for sure……  

What is it in your life that seems to hold you back?  Or is there anything holding you back?  Do you know what your direction is for your life?   What is your purpose with what you are going through? Often we just need to sit back and wait……  Not always an easy thing to do now is it?   But patience does work as a benefit for waiting for that answer to move forward for sure……  

Reflecting……


Reflecting……


When my life changed dramatically about 20 years ago with the loss of my husband.  It seemed for several years I was uncertain where my place was as a widow.   So many things had changed.  My kids had grown up and moved on with their lives, I eventually received a new additional title in my life with becoming a Grammy.  I felt my life needed a new direction and I began to figure out what that direction was. 

Reevaluating….

The fall of 2015, I took a 4 week class on Navigating the Seasons of Life.  This was a class to see what we can learn about themselves.  We looked at our past, our present, our future and what we had learned about ourselves.  Or did we learn anything about ourselves…….

I find these types of things fascinating…..  We all have things in our lives that have happened that are both good and bad.    By reflecting on my past, I would like to stop the cycle of things from the past, look at the positive things and bring them forward.  We cannot change our past but we can decide how we want to handle the icky things that have happened so we don’t repeat those things. 

What I learned about myself…….

For me, one of the biggest things I have had to learn is, to be my own person.  It’s up to me to make choices based on what is good for me and not necessarily everyone else.  Once I realized this, I discovered I have become more confident with who I am and what works best for me.  I know people are going to say we need to consider other people’s feelings.  That may be true.  There are times when we are making decisions that we need to speak with someone we trust.  However, not allowing others to rule our convictions, except for God, is what is important.  Some of the things I wish I would have realized at a younger age are:

  • Be yourself – Don’t let others tell you how you need to be.
  • Stand firm on your convictions.
  • Listen to your heart.  Only you know how you feel and what is right for you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Take some risks….   I say that carefully so that you will think things through on what to try.
  • You are important and an individual.
  • Be proud of who you are.
  • Observe what has happened and said to you.   Take the good and throw away the bad.
  • Remember – most importantly that God has a plan for your life and know He will direct you in the path He has for you.
  • Most of all – be happy with who you are.  You happiness does not rely on anyone but you.


What does the Bible say……


One of the many scriptures that applies is Ephesians 5:22-24 which reads:  Then throw off your old evil nature, the old you that as a partner in your evil ways, rotten through and through, full of lust and shame.  Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better.  Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy ad good.  Clothe yourself with this new nature.  Perhaps you past isn’t full of lust and shame but there may be other things in your life that could be holding one back from putting aside the icky in one’s life.  Things like gossip, greed, wanting to be always right, not telling the whole truth, unforgiving and the list could go on.

As I work on applying these things in my life today, I find I am much more content with life and myself.  Do I still try to protect some people – perhaps and that isn’t always a bad thing.  One of the most important things I have learned is to take a step back when I am trying to decide what my next step is, pray about it, ask for advice and then make that decision. 
I or should I say we, will never be perfect but I do believe we can learn from our past to make us better people today.  

Your reflection…..

Perhaps today is the day for you to reflect where you have been, what accomplishments you have achieved, and what you would like to change about yourself.   This may be as simple as acknowledging or accepting what you cannot change.  Forgiveness for yourself or those who have hurt you.  We certainly have a gracious God that can take all the garbage away and make us that new person. 

I get it that sometimes that just seems to easy and it’s hard to give up the past.  However, our lives can be so much happier by doing so.   Think about it……  Wouldn’t you rather be happy and forgiving than to carry the burden of the past? 

We all have a story don’t we?  What is your story…..   Remember we can not change the past but we can decide how we want to move forward.  As you walk down the journey of widowhood,  I trust you will find peace with what you are going through in your life.  

Blessings to you…….   Remember God is on your side!!!

WIDOW BINGO


WIDOW BINGO
Widow Bingo came across my Facebook page from a friend that thought I would like it.  At first I thought to myself – Who would be so thoughtless to put something together like this.  Then, as I read this – I thought, this is pretty good. This was posted on The Widow Hope Facebook page on May 21, 2016 at 1:01 PM.
There were about 25 bingo squares on the bingo chart that were either thoughtless of insensitive because people just do not know what to say to widows or widowers.  At this stage of my widowhood, some actually make me laugh but at the time, they sure didn’t.  Here are just a few:
  • I would die if that happened to me.
  • I know how you feel – my dog died. 
  • It was God’s will.
  • They are in a better place.
  • Time heals all wounds.
  • At least they are no log in pain……
  • God never gives you more than you can handle
  • And the list goes on…………

Memories………

It brought back some memories of when my husband passed away in August of 1996.  The one comment that just irritated me was – ‘Only the good die young!’  Oh how I detested that comment!  There were many times I would say back to who ever said that – Oh you must not be very good if you are still here.  I probably shouldn’t have said that but at the time I felt I had the ‘right’ to say that.  The weird part about my comment back to the person who said it, was they were appalled that I would same something like that back to them.  I mean really – you have to ask?   Did I mention how stupid I thought that comment was? 

Any of you who are widowed have probably heard many or most of these statements.  One could write many blogs from these comments but I will try to keep my blogs to just a few of them.  So let me begin with the one that irritated me the most. 

Secular thoughts……

Billy Joel wrote a song by this title – Only the Good Die Young and released the song in 1977 (http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/billyjoel/onlythegooddieyoung.html)  This song implies that if you live a long life you are bad.  Or if you die young you were good.

Scripture thoughts…….

I’m thinking, does scripture have anything to say about this statement irritates me so much.   In doing some digging, I came across Isaiah 57:1 which reads: The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil.  The New Living Bible translates this into:  Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.

Reality for me………

I guess I need to rethink about the statement that only the good die young.  I’m not saying that there is necessarily scripture verses to counter act the other comments.  But perhaps in reflecting back to the months after Dan died, because of the emotional roller coaster, a lot of the sayings were said and I have come to realize over the years that, people just have no clue unless they have actually buried a spouse.

What to say or not to say…….

Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say or not to say unless you have gone down the journey of becoming single after the death of a spouse.  My response to if you do not know what to say, please think first.
  • Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know what to say….
  • Just give me a hug…..
  • Don’t assume I will call you…….   Give me a call to check in with me.
  • It’s OK to include me when there are get-together’s when couples are included.
  • Give me extra grace when the whole world has changed under my feet.
  • Keep praying for me…

Understanding……..

Perhaps I’m finally understanding God’s grace and mercy.  Perhaps, God is softening my heart and thoughts to understand His love and understanding towards me.  It’s a lesson I have been learning over the years.  Thank goodness I am finally figuring it out.  Life is a process isn’t it………..

20 Years Later……

20 Years Later…….
It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 20 years already since Dan left our side. He is in such a better place and I know that.  However, reflecting back it doesn’t seem possible and for some reason at this 20 year mark.  I am questioning why did this happen – what is the purpose and perhaps even why me?  Perhaps I’m feeling this way especially this year as it is a milestone in my life. 
I have always believe that God has a plan for my life and He knows what is best for me. However, being human and living on this earth, my thoughts go towards wondering if there could just have been a better plan.   As I search through scriptures there are so many that come to mind but the one I love is knowing the peace God gives us in the end – Revelations 21:4 which reads:  He will wipe away every tear from their (my) eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
However, knowing and believing this, my mind wonders on the what if’s.  What would my world be like today at retirement if Dan was still here?  Would we be perusing our dreams of traveling, spending time with our kids and grandkids?  Why did Dan have to die so young (he was 47)?   After all, he wasn’t able to be at the weddings of our children or the births of our grandchildren.  Why was he robbed of that?  What is God’s plan in this?   What direction is God taking our family?  What is the purpose? 

As I watch our children grow to become amazing adults and parents, I can see things in their lives that Dan lives on.  They have become secure in who they are as adults and parents.  I see the soft spirit they have that is so much like their dad.  I have watched them console their friends who have lost someone dear to them that only comes from going through that journey. 
As I have allowed God to direct my path, I find myself no longer wondering why me, but coming to terms with who I am and what God has for me.  As I moved from a grieving wife to a woman who began to trust God with the rest of my life, I began to let God take over and use my pain for something God could use for the better of others.
Little did I know or ever thought I would know the journey God had/has directed me to go down.  However as I relied on God, the doors began to open.  While standing side by side as another woman cries as she says goodbye here on earth to her husband, we are able to walk that journey to go from grief, heal and in time thrive. 

Does this mean we ever forget? Absolutely not!  For those widows who have children, we see our husband in our children all the time – mannerisms, the way they walk, the way they talk and the way they look.  With time, what time does is heal our sad hearts and we are able to move forward.  God has His timing and for each of us it is on our own time frame.  
Each time I meet a new widow, memories do come back reminding me of the day Dan move up to heaven.  But I find it isn’t as sad as watching this sweet lady move from morning to thriving, I see God is still in control.  He is there to help us each step of the way.   There are days we cannot walk bur God carries us through those days.  

The verse I referred to earlier has become a source of comfort.  Some day we will see these special men in our lives.

Blessings to each of you going down this journey.   May you feel God’s arms wrapped around you.

Life changing events…..

Life changing events….. 

Have you had a life changing event where you think “What in the world just happened?”  Was it an unexpected move, loss of a job, a spouse wanting out or death of a loved one?  For me, it was the tragic loss of a spouse.

The Beginning

While sitting on our patio on August 25th 1996 with my husband Dan, we were catching up on the past two weeks as he was in the Military and just returned from his 2 weeks of training.  We had been talking about our upoming 25th wedding anniversary which would be in a couple of years and had narrowed it down to a couple of things.  As Dan and I sat there talking about our dreams, he gasped, turned white as a ghost and froze.  We had two neighbors who were RN’s and came right over as we called 911.  This was the day that would change my life as I knew it.  It had been an mazing year for us as we had many fun things that had happened.  Our youngest had just graduated from high school.  We had taken a few mini trips with friends and family.  Along with a busy summer with two family weddings, two family baby showers and three family reunions, we were talking of our plans for the future.
My thought was what was I going to do and what was God thinking….  As I learned to heal and trust God for what His plan was for me, I could only trust in Him that He knew what He was doing….Psalm 94:22 comes to mind as a verse I would rely on.  It reads “But the Lord has become my fortress and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.”

Where do I go from here?

Unfortunately, in 1996 there wasn’t a lot of information offered for widows or widowers.  You were expected to move forward and just try to figure it out – or that’s how I felt.  Thank goodness my oldest brother walked beside me to help me heal as he had lost his first wife in a tragic car accident. 
Fast forward 17 years as I had been praying about where God was leading and directing me.  I was attending a funeral in May of 2013 when the Chaplin at North Memorial approached me about becoming involved with a group called The Widow Might Organization.  I thought – is this where God wants me?  I sensed God probing me, but I resisted with this idea for quite a while.  Finally, last spring I gave into what I felt God was directing me to do.  I spoke with Danielle Allen and she walked me into Lynn Hanf’s office as there was a need at MGEFC.  And so the process began with what we affectionately call The Women of Light.  

Where God is leading me……

It seems out of our greatest pain, God has a purpose.  1Timothy 5:16A reads: “If any women who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them …” with the guidance of Lynn Hanf and direction from the board of The Widow Might Organization we began to move forward.  With some research on what was available to women who have traveled down this journey, we discovered there is a lot of information out there…   God is faithful and He has promised to walk by our side and make us whole again. 
If you are going through this journey or know someone who is and would like to chat, please let me know.  I would be glad to talk with you or them.

Blessings and in God’s service,