The Tenderized Heart

The process of tenderizing involves breaking down the muscles fibers to soften. Two difference tools can be used for this process – a meat tenderizer mallet or a knife. If a meat tenderizer mallet is used, it is held in a hand and the meat is banged over and over again on first one side and then the other. If a knife is used, deep, long and thin cuts and scores are made across the muscle fibers. The final step is to subject the meat to heat in order to make it very tender.

I have found that especially in these years of being a widow, God has been tenderizing all of the pieces of my broken heart. II Kings 22 talks about Josiah who had a tender heart. During the time that he was king, his people had sunk so low that the Book of the Law had been lost. Unexpectedly, it was found and when it was read aloud to Josiah, his heart was so tender and so deeply affected that he tore his clothes. Hearing how sinful his heart and the hearts of the people were broke his heart. Josiah called all of the people together and had the Book of the Law read aloud to them. Sin was revealed, repentance was made and because of the tenderness first of Josiah’s heart and then the people’s hearts, God did not punish them.

A tender heart is not one that is cold, lifeless and unresponsive. Perhaps that is how your heart felt in the beginning stages of the loss of your husband when all you could feel was numbness. I know that I felt that way. I couldn’t concentrate enough to read my Bible. I couldn’t pray. I couldn’t sing. I couldn’t utter any words praise to my Savior.

A tender heart is one that is broken down and cut open to the point where the Holy Spirit has easy entrance. It is able to easily sense the presence of God – open to whatever He has to say or show you.

It’s like the mariner’s compass, which having been once touched by the magnet, always turns toward the north. It may indeed oscillate and tremble backwards and forwards–but still it will return to the pole, and ultimately remain fixed at that point whence it was temporarily disturbed. So when the heart has been touched by the Spirit, and has been made tender in God’s fear, it may for a time waver to the right or to the left–but it is always trembling and fluctuating until it points toward God, as the eternal center of its happiness and holiness.” (The Gospel Pulpit, 1843)

The tender heart is sensitive toward the things of God making it aware of sins and giving it the desire to run from them. It has a desire is to be more like Christ.

Tender hearts are pliant and ready to be molded into whatever God has created them to be. It does not harden itself and want its own way. Taking control is not something that a tender heart tries to do. It allows its Creator to bend it and mold it into what He designs even though it may be painful.

There are times in our lives when there is a great shift or change that was unexpected and totally unplanned such as the death of a spouse. When that happens and the numbness begins to wear off, we have a choice to make. Are we going to harden our hearts toward God or are we going to allow Him to tenderize all of our broken pieces one by one as He begins to put our hearts and lives back together?

I found that at first there were times in the stunned disbelief of what my life has become when I needed to question God. It was no surprise to God how I was going to react. After all, He made me the way that I am and He is big enough to handle anything that I needed to say to Him. In the midst of it all, though, there was never a time that I didn’t know that I still loved God and knew that He is all that I have now.

I can say anything to Him without judgement and condemnation. He is not going to take His unfailing love and faithfulness away from me just because my flesh is weak and this process is so very painful. Instead, He continues to throw His arms around me allowing me to weep and cry and tell Him how very much I miss Bob. Then we continue walking forward hand in hand.

Tears were something foreign in my life until God began tenderizing my heart. Now tears have become very familiar and I cry very easily. Some may look at that as a weakness. I look at it as allowing others to see my tender heart. Those tears that I shed many times a week are tears of sorrow, tears of thankfulness, tears of praise, tears of missing, etc.

Has God used this time of being a widow to do the work of tenderizing your heart? If not, consider it. Yes, it hurts, but the results of having a closer relationship with God makes all the difference.

“Because your heart was tender, and you have humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard what I spoke against this place……I also have heard you, says the Lord.” II Kings 22:19




My Sacred Journey

In his book It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here, Gary Barkalow talks about the journey of life. I want to share this with you in first person.

“My life is a long journey to a sacred place (a mystery) for a sacred purpose that passes through a myriad of places and seasons that will include joy and abundance as well as weeping and drought which will bring me from one level of strength to a greater level of strength as I am walking along with God.

If I am to find my calling, the intention of my life, I must become oriented–I must find my true north. I must sit still and clear from my navigational equipment (my heart) the inaccurate, invalid maps and errors and triangulate to the three universal coordinates: story, desire, and journey.

STORY: I must continually remember that more is going on than I can see (there is a greater story), the stakes are higher than I’ve been told (I live on a battleship, not a cruise liner), and I am far more than I believe (I am the only one in the spiritual realm who underestimates the power of my life). The theme of my story is overcoming and becoming.

DESIRE: The good news is that what I was created to do in the greater story is what I most want to do–it is written on my heart in the form of my desires: ‘It is God who is producing in you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him’ (Philippians 2:13 ISV). I must also continually be aware not only of the story I am living in, but of my desires.

JOURNEY: In addition, I must always remember that there is a process, a progression, a journey that all people must take in becoming who they truly are and in recognizing the role they are to play. And I must remember, as essential and powerful as these reference points are, beyond them are things that only God can reveal about my life. God wants to be intimately involved in my journey of becoming and because of His desire for my life to become what it was destined to be, He must and will speak to me personally.”

So many times you will hear a widow equate her life after loss as her journey or grief journey. That’s exactly what it is. It’s time of shifting and changing, twists and turns, moving forward and at times, falling back. But, the wonderful thing about a widow’s journey if she has accepted Christ as her own person Savior is that she is not walking her journey alone. Yes, we feel so alone so many times because we cannot see a physical image walking alongside us and that is very hard. We long for the hugs and intimate touches that we have lost. But, I have experienced those heart feelings that comfort me on my journey–those “I love you, Candy” in the form of the realization of blessings that come my way each and every day if I look hard enough for them.

My journey is sacred and like no other. It’s a holy journey that God has entrusted me to travel. And so is yours, my dear widow friend. It’s a place of overcoming all the obstacles of life without your spouse and becoming exactly the woman that God created and designed you to be. Keep going, girls! Never give in and never give up! The journey may be a winding one that goes through dark forests at times. Keep in mind that God’s Word is a lamp that is lighting your pathway. He wants you to overcome and become.

Learning from Other Widows

Grace Livingston Hill, as we know her. She was one to know and never forget.

One of my strongest beliefs is that I can always always always learn something from someone that God brings into my life. During the summers of my teenage years I spent a lot of time reading Grace Livingston Hills books and still enjoy re-reading them to this day. Recently I learned that Grace was a widow and decided to see if I could find an accurately written biography. Robert Munce, who was her youngest grandson, shared her story in his book entitled Grace Livingston Hill.

Never has it been more obvious than in the last 6 years that God has every detail in our lives orchestrated before we are born. Nothing that happens takes Him by surprise. This truth is easy to see in the way that Grace’s life began and how it unfolded until the day of her transition from earth to heaven. She was raised in a home where faith and trust in God for even the littlest things were modeled and lived out before her. Both of her parents loved God, loved to write and Grace found herself loving to pour her thoughts out in word. All of this helped her to develop a strong relationship with the Lord that prepared her for her marriage to Frank Hill.

It wasn’t until twenty-five years after their marriage that Grace opened up to her daughters about the battle that Frank had during his lifetime. He had terrible headaches during his college years and was prescribed morphine tablets without being told that they were additive. There was little understanding of addiction in 1892 and no rehab centers even existed. He hid his struggle from Grace until after they were married. Frank was a pastor who deeply loved the Lord and the people he was shepherding. He was so ashamed of his addiction as he told Grace, “I’ve spent years thinking about this and I feel that as long as I’m able, I will preach and teach God’s Word and leave my personal problems in His hands. This horrible flaw in my life has helped me to understand the struggles and heartbreak in the lives of other people, and I’m sure I’m much more patient with people than I would have been had I not been plagued with this problem.”

Seven years after Grace and Frank were married, Frank died after surgery on an infected appendix leaving Grace as a widow in her thirties with two little girls to raise.

Grace felt her life had been shattered, yet she knew that in the bad, as well as the good, God had a purpose for each of His children. Still, life seemed very dark. It was a perplexing situation. She did not earn enough money from her writing to support the family. The home was the property of the church, so she had to find another home as soon as possible. The job market was bleak. There were few career jobs that would allow a woman to support a family, and Grace was not trained in any of them. The greatest pain was not the future with all its uncertainties, but the thought of a future without the love and support and companionship of Frank. Every time she thought of it, it seemed like a cold, black wave a hundred feet high was falling on her and crushing her soul.

Writing was what Grace knew and what God used to support not only her and her young daughters but her mother who became a widow less than eight months after Grace.

As Grace was churning out new books, she was fighting a spiritual battle with depression, but found victory and relief in prayer and Bible study. There was one point where she was told by her publisher “No more preachy Sunday school stuff in your manuscripts. It won’t sell to the wider audience that you are now reach to reach. Good moral principles, good winning over evil, all those things are find. But no gospel!” This was a hard blow and with God’s help she developed strategies that would make all of her goals a reality.

At one point in her widow life, Grace was very lonely and considered marriage again. She met a man who was fifteen years younger and he proposed marriage to her. After consulting several of her close friends, who all advised her not to marry, she felt that marriage was the right thing to do to provide a father and music teacher for her two daughters. This decision caused her, her daughters and her mother to go through ten years of verbal abuse with a man who never contributed a dime to support them. He finally left Grace and went back home to live with his parents. Their marriage ended in divorce.

While on a trip through New England’s beautiful countryside, Grace viewed a hillside covered completely with lovely blue flowers. Her friend told her that the flowers were called Blue Ruin because they take over causing nothing else to grow and ruin everything. Those flowers reminded Grace of her own life during her second marriage and gave her the title for another book.

After a time, Grace earned enough money to buy a small stone home with three bedrooms that later became her ongoing project turning into a large fourteen room house. Her home became a place where others could socialize, play music, talk about anything and everything, be discipled and spiritually mentored – a place of learning and respite.

As the only child, Grace had a strong sense of family and a strong desire to keep her family unit living together in her big house. The attachment Grace had to her two daughters continued even after they married and this caused friction between them. Her daughters and their husbands obliged her for a time and lived there with her until God directed them to leave. At first Grace strongly opposed their decision, but, in time, she realized that God had other plans for their lives that didn’t include keeping everyone together in her home.

Because Grace let go of her own plans for her children and allowed God to direct them, she became a tremendous influence not only on her daughters and their husbands but on her grandchildren.

At the earliest age I (her adopted grandson) can remember the love, reverence, and respect we all had for her was generated by her work ethic which made her so productive, while still fulfilling her responsibilities to God and her family. Her unbounded energy was infectious and made even the youngest of us want to perform at our highest levels. But far more valuable was the underlying peace that was instilled in us, because we all learned early that the Lord Jesus should be sovereign in our lives.

Grace was in high demand and continued her speaking engagements until she reached the age of 79. At the age of 81 she published her last book – #79. That book was written while she was very ill. Her memory was fading, but would come alive from time to time. She would write awhile and then lie down to rest before getting up again to continue typing out her last story.

Much might be said in praise of Grace Livingston Hill, for millions blessed her for the work which she had performed. They blessed her for her fine writing, they blessed her for her personal ministry to them, and they blessed her for being a friend and a mother. But if she could speak to us this afternoon from Glory, she would bid us lift our voices in praise of another — she would tell us about Jesus. If Grace were here to comment about her own work today, she would probably simply say, “Thank you, Lord, for using me.”

Living life as a widow is not easy. In fact, it’s hard. Yet, if we keep our eyes on Jesus, our hearts in tune with His, our wills submitted to His plan, there can be a peace that passes all understanding. There can be joy mixed in with our grief and sorrow. God wants to use us if we will allow Him to do that. My mother used to tell me, “God is a gentleman and will not force His ways nor His will on us“. I want to be able to look back on my time as a widow and see that it wasn’t for naught.

The Widow’s Olympics

Watching the US Olympic trials has always been an inspiration to me, but never more than it is since becoming a widow. Every athlete has worked very hard to get to this moment in time. Parents, siblings, wives, and children have sacrificed time and money for years in order for their son, daughter, brother, sister, or spouse to get to this point. Athletes began preparing as young children perfecting their sport practicing tirelessly day in and day out to make each move so routine that it becomes a natural reaction.

These men and women have dared to put themselves first for such a time as this. Such things as what types of foods they do or do not put into their bodies and how much time they spend sleeping every night is a very important part of this process. Learning how to relax and just breathe teaches them the discipline of how to zone out all other stressers around them so that full concentration can be given to the task ahead.

Some athletes have suffered injuries from which they have been forced to battle back. Some have lost a parent or another significant loved one and are having to deal with grief. Any number of life’s problems have cropped up trying to shake their focus and deter them from their goal. Their determination is shaken but not broken.

The moment of the athlete’s event is here. Everything they have worked for is over within a few minutes and sometimes only seconds of time. You can see in their eyes how completely focused they are on finishing their course. Tiny mistakes are made. Big mistakes are made. Yet, they don’t stop their ring routine, high bar routine, pommel horse routine, floor exercise, synchronized dive, swim, race….whatever it may be…until they have completed it. I find myself cheering them on yelling, “You can do it!!” Disappointment may show on their faces when mistakes are made, but they pick themselves up and keep going despite their failure to do everything perfectly.

There are those athletes, who despite the mistakes made during the Olympic trials, will make the US Olympic team and go on to complete their journey becoming an Olympic champion and medal winner. The joy that lights up their faces when they come to the end of the road that they have traveled for years with all of the ups and downs, backwards and forwards, ins and outs is such a parallel to a widow’s journey.

Then there are some athletes who make the Olympic team, but because of an injury that happens during the Olympic games know that their chance of winning is over. Yet, in spite of their sorrow they are able to find joy and rejoice with their teammates who go on to medal.

We face so many challenges that either begin when a wife becomes the caregiver for her husband or at the moment of death for those wives who lose their husbands suddenly. Agonizing grief clouds our minds and brokenness breaks our hearts. Yet, we set our faces like a flint and determine to deal with the medical bills, life insurance paperwork, wills or lack of, our husband’s personal effects, deciding whether or not to keep our home or sell it, finding a job, caring for our children at home as they are grieving, and on and on. There is a mountain of things that a widow must deal with after the death of her husband.

A widow becomes an Olympic athlete determined to keep moving forward completely focused with great determination to finish this course that we did not choose, but one that we must travel. In the midst of our great sorrow we are able to rejoice that our husband finished his race and won his “gold medal”. We picture them shouting encouragement to us from the grandstands of our “Widow Olympics”. Our husbands know that they did not marry a quitter. They want us to win and win we must no matter how hard the race.

There is the opportunity for “Olympic widows” to be a part of a team if they so choose. That team of widows, who are all at different places in their process, becomes the ones who really “get it”. The veteran members can offer advice to help the newer widows avoid pitfalls. Everyone on the team becomes a support system and cheerleader for each other.

So, keep going, my fellow widows! You can do this! We have unfinished business here on this earth. Trials of this life will get you down, but don’t allow those trials to force you to give up and completely stop without restarting. Look at your mistakes or failures as blessings that force you to take a closer look at yourself and make any changes that need to be made. Come alongside those widows who are crawling or limping through their race and encourage them. For those who have accepted Christ as your personal Savior, there is all the glory of heaven to look forward to at the end of your “Widow Olympics”.

 So then, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us, too, put aside every impediment — that is, the sin which easily hampers our forward movement — and keep running with endurance in the contest set before us,  looking away to the Initiator and Completer of that trusting, Yeshua (Jesus) — who, in exchange for obtaining the joy set before him, endured execution on a stake as a criminal, scorning the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:1-2 Complete Jewish Bible)

Glimpse of Heaven

We said good-bye at the small country airport where I boarded a commuter plane bound for Pittsburgh. There I would make a connecting flight that would take me home. Nine months earlier we met or should I say collided as I slid into home base during a college work scholarship baseball game. He was determined to get me out. I was determined to score a run for the team. The results were torn ligaments in my right leg and that was the beginning of our friendship that quickly blossomed into a forever kind of love.

Four months later we were engaged. Six months after that we said our “I do’s”. Our love was strong from the beginning. Before we married, we made a pact that no matter what problems we would encounter or what disagreements we might have, we would always work through them. When you put two stubborn and imperfect people together, you are bound to have conflicts. But, that stubbornness also fueled our resolve to love each other in good times and in bad, whether we had money or not and in sickness or in health.  All of those situations came up in our marriage. We made it through the thirty six years, four months and ten days that God gifted to us to be together.

When God creates someone just for you and allows you to meet when it is just the right time, the love that comes out of that is the greatest love that a person can ever know on this earth. Yet, that love is only a glimpse of the love that God has for us. So many times I try to look deep into my mind and heart to fathom what the Father’s love for me is like and find that it is so far beyond my imagination that it can sometimes become frustrating.

Resting in Bob’s love totally and completely trusting that he loved me and me only was easy. He never gave me any reason at all to think otherwise. There was great comfort in that kind of love knowing that I was his and he was mine. I realize now that many people never truly experience a love like that. In hindsight I see what a priceless gift Bob gave me when he promised himself to me on this day forty-three years ago. When you love like that, you never dream that your lives together won’t go on forever.

The beauty of us both knowing Christ and accepting Him as our personal Savior is knowing that one day I will see Bob again. The joy and anticipation that my heart feels about that is beyond words. This is the man that was my one and only. He was the love of my life. We’ve been separated by death for a little over six and a half years now. The longest we had ever been apart was for a week. Yet, how much more will be the glorious wonder when I step over to the other side and see my Savior face to face! This is the One who formed me in my mother’s womb and created me to be just the way that I am. He is the One who has loved me from the instant of my beginning, who constructed Bob just for me, who brought us together, walked with us throughout all of our married life and who carried us both together to the end of Bob’s life.

My becoming a widow did not surprise my Savior at all. He knew it would be a part of my life. He knew how much losing that great earthly love would break my heart. He didn’t need to ask me “Candy, are you going to be alright?” like Bob did two days before he died. The struggle to “be alright” has been great and is harder some days than others. Bob’s physical presence is gone, but his love for me goes on in so many different ways. God’s physical presence has never been seen by me, but His love for me has become much more real now that it is just Him and I.

Love given is the greatest gift a person can ever experience. To be loved is to be given a glimpse of heaven. My heart is so full as I close my eyes, go back June 22nd, 1973 and re-experience all the beautiful and wonderful emotions of that day. But, it’s nothing compared to all the glories that are yet to be revealed when my faith becomes sight and I finally see the One who loves me with the greatest love of all – an everlasting love.

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face—what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me?

Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now I see Him,
With the darkened veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
Death is swallowed up in vict’ry,
And the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face—oh, blissful moment!
Face to face—to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.

Don’t Waste Your Pain

When something happens in our life that we don’t understand, the first thing we do is wonder why this happened. The morning my husband went to heaven, my response was “Why, God?!!!! How could You do this to me?!” Less than two months later when my mother joined my husband, my response was “Not another one, God!!!” Two months later when my dad left this world for heaven, my response was “This is too much for me to handle, God!! How could you take from me the three people who loved me the most in this world?!!”

As the numbness of that terrible fog began to lift a bit, I realized that I could not waste my pain. I did not know how to begin to face it and deal with it alone. That is when I sought out professional help from a Christian psychologist who had worked with widows for over 30 years. I needed someone to shine a light in my fog and direct me. Your family and friends can help you some as you are walking through your pain, but for the most part it is something that you have to walk through alone.

There is nothing wrong with questioning God for a while because after all, we are human. But, there should come a time for you if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior that you remember that whether or not you can sense God’s presence, He has promised in Hebrews 13:5b I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” Amplified Bible.

I personally do not believe that there are any accidents with God. He is always in control of what is going on in my life and whatever has happened is in His permissive will. He has a purpose for my pain and it’s up to me to face it, walk through it, and allow that purpose to work out for good in my life.

Waking up in the morning is the hardest part of the day for me. As soon as my eyes open and consciousness returns my first thought is of the losses of my sweet loved ones and how very much I miss them. In order to combat that pain I immediately turn on my iPad and go to the Daily Audio Bible app. This is my ammunition that helps me get out of bed and face my day. I purposely close my eyes as I listen so that I can give my full attention to whatever is being read in portions of the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs. I so desire to hear whatever God might have to say to me for that day…….whatever encouraging words He might speak to my heart. Rarely ever does a morning go by that I don’t cry as I listen because this is my special time with the One who loves me so much more than my husband or parents ever did. I am using my pain to grow a much closer and more intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior who has my back in this life as a widow.

After being encouraged by several people to share my grief journey, I began this blog as a way to not waste my pain. It has been and continues to be a way for me to pour out my pain and share with the readers whatever God has placed on my heart. In turn, the readers will share with me their pain as well as encouragement in the comments below my posts. Together we are not wasting our pain.

Reaching out to other widows to tell them about the many widow resources that I have found and sometimes even sending some resources to a widow is another way that I find helpful in not wasting my pain. Also, talking by phone or texting with a widow to just listen, affirm and encourage them keeps me from wasting my pain.

Remembering that God loves me and that His mercies to me are new every morning helps me not to waste my pain. Lamentations 3:22-23 RSV is a daily source of encouragement to me.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
    His mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is Thy faithfulness.

Losing a spouse or a parent is one of the most painful things in this world. Allow yourself whatever amount of time that you need to question God and ask all of your “why” questions. He’s big enough to handle it and will not love you any less. I would encourage you not to run from your grief and waste your pain. Running will only cause you more pain in the long run as unimaginable as that is. Use your pain to strengthen and grow your relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have never allowed Christ into your life, give it some serious thought because He understands your pain more than anyone else in this world ever could. He’s that friend that will never turn His back on you. He’s promised believers that He will never leave them nor forsake them. There is no way I could go through life without Him.

What things are you doing in order not to waste your pain? Don’t waste your pain.

Wisdom of a Grandson

Levi and his buddyI never cease to be amazed at the ways God chooses to speak deeply to my heart. Yesterday was one of those “God moments” and the best way I know how to share that with you is to let my #3 daughter Charity tell you about it in her own words.

“There is a God story behind this picture of two buddies and what Levi (her son and my grandson pictured in orange) is holding in his hand. For the past year Levi has been mowing grass and saving his money to buy an Xbox. In January he received a letter from his buddy M (pictured in black) telling about a missions trip M is taking this summer to tell people about Jesus. Well, Levi comes to me and tells me that he wants to give his buddy all the money he has been saving.

At first I was trying to suggest that he not give all of it but maybe part of it. Then God stopped me in my tracks and told me to get out of the way of what HE was trying to do. OUCH! So, Levi gives the money to his buddy and his buddy’s mom asks me if the money was all from Levi and I share with her how he was saving it, etc. She then shares Levi’s story with M and the next day M tells her that he feels like God wants him to give Levi his own personal  Xbox.

Yesterday the exchanging of the Xbox took place and these boys have both seen a huge example of how God works in beautiful, mysterious ways. My words don’t even come close to expressing how God has used these two boys and their giving hearts to speak directly to my heart.”

Charity shared this on Facebook. Now I knew part of the story, but not all of it. Tears immediately rolled down my cheeks as I remembered how much my husband Bob loved missions and missionaries. I shared with Charity how he used to delight in folding up a $50-$100 bill in his hand, walk over to a missionary and shake their hand as he transferred that money to them. None of my daughters had ever known that their dad did that and when Charity relayed that to Levi his response was, “That is why Pa got to go to heaven early”. Now this is something that could only come out of the mouth of a child. Levi is looking at his Pa’s going to heaven early as a reward for him. I would have never ever thought of that, but as I have been mulling this over in my mind since yesterday, I can see the truth of it.

Now I cannot say that the reason Bob went to heaven early was because he loved missionaries and handed out money to them. But, I can say that for whatever reason Bob’s earthly mission and plan that God had for his life was finished and part of that plan had been to love on missionaries in that way. Because he had accepted Jesus Christ as his own personal Savior and chosen to live his life for Christ, his reward at death was life eternal in heaven. Bob got to go to heaven early. What a thought for me to meditate on and chew on for awhile! He got to go to heaven early. It was a privilege and a reward for him.

That’s not the way most widows look at the death of their husband. In our agonizing grief we get so focused on all that we have lost that we cannot pull the curtains of life aside to see that our husbands got to go to heaven. I will admit that at this point I am able to spend 50% of my time focused on how much I miss my husband and 50% of my time focused on wondering about all that he is seeing and doing in heaven. That pendulum swings back and forth.

My grandson Levi has pulled my earthly curtain back for me just a little bit more now and given me a “God glimpse” that I won’t soon forget. Such wisdom out of the mouth of a twelve year old boy that has a giving heart and is listening and doing whatever the Holy Spirit urges him to do. His Pa couldn’t have asked for more in a grandson and his parents who are actively setting the example for their son. How very blessed I am for God to have used this boy to help me see something wonderful about the death of my husband.

Hope for an Aching Heart

Hope for an Aching Heart : Uplifting Devotions for Widows

Margaret Nyman was widowed six years ago after six weeks’ time. She is telling her widow story over the next five days on Revive Our Hearts. Here are the links to the first two programs where you can either listen to her or read the program transcript.

Day 1 –

Day 2 –

Here are links to Margaret’s books:

Hope for an Aching Heart

Prayers for a Widow’s Heart

Margaret’s blog can be found here:

Getting Through This: Encouragement to Keep Moving Forward

One Widow….

Darlene 2

Fourteen years ago Darlene O’Lena became a widow at the age of 47. She and her husband Chuck were married at the tender ages of 17 years old and 19 years old. Darlene was being abused at home by her step-father and felt like marriage and moving away from that situation was the answer. This was not the case. Her husband became a physically abusive alcoholic and unfaithful to Darlene. Confused and wondering what she had done wrong, Darlene became unfaithful seeking love and acceptance from other men.  

Fifteen years into their marriage, Darlene was introduced to Christ and accepted Him as her Lord and Savior. Six months later Chuck accepted Christ and things were better for awhile until Chuck went back to his old ways. God protected Darlene from so many things. She was alone at his side when he died.

In all these years Darlene has remained a widow, but she has not just been sitting idly by. Last week she returned home from a trip to Rwanda and I want to let her tell you about that trip in her own words. You may feel like your life is over and there is no purpose left for you on this earth. Darlene is a living testimony that one widow, who has been through some horrible things in her life, can be used by God to make a difference in this world. Here is her Rwanda story.


Rwanda, Africa.  Called “the land of a thousand hills”, it is a small little country on the east side of Africa.  A country full of extreme poverty.  A country that lost thousands of people in the Rwandan Genocide in the 1990’s.  But, it is also a country of people that are full of God’s love and aren’t afraid to show it.

The idea of going on a mission trip actually started 20 yrs. ago.  Church friends of ours had gone on a trip to St. Croix and had been telling Chuck and me about it.  That Sunday, pastor gave a sermon on missions and, at the end, asked people to go forward if they wanted to go on a missions trip sometime in their life.  Chuck and I went forward, as did many others.  Shortly after that, Chuck got sick and, a few years later, passed away.  The mission trip idea was put on the back burner.

Now, jump ahead 20 yrs. I was sitting at my kitchen table doing my Bible study one summer night last year.  As I sat there, my mind strayed to looking back on my life.  It seemed to me that I had never done anything significant in my life regarding sharing the Message of the Gospel.  I found myself saying that night “Here I am, Lord.  Send me.”  Little did I know what I was saying to God at that point.

I had heard about a mission in Rwanda, Africa at my church.  I had always thought about Africa.  One of my favorite Family Classics movies as a child was “Stanley and Livingston”.  Dr. Livingston had been a missionary doctor in Africa.  As I listened to Pastor Jay at church talk about “Love Alive International” in Africa, I thought… “I should check out their website.”  When I got home that Sunday, I went on the internet and found the website. It showed where you could sponsor a child’s education in Rwanda for $35 a year.  Gee, I could spend that amount just going out to dinner.  OK, I’ll sponsor one child.  Then, on the website, I saw that there were sewing classes for the Rwandan women so that they can learn to make clothing, purses, etc. to sell at the market.  This would provide money for their family.  When they graduated from the sewing class, they would receive their very own sewing machine.  These sewing machines would be purchased from people that would sponsor them, once again, on the website.  OK, that sounded like a good thing, so I sponsored one sewing student.  A couple of weeks later, I got thinking about the Rwandan children and sponsored three more.

I received an email later from Laura, the woman that had started Love Alive International three years ago.  She thanked me for my donations and said “If you’d ever like to come visit us, we would be glad to have you.”  (As a side note, Laura later said that it must have been a “God thing”, because she has never said that to someone before).   Visit Africa?  Me?  That was quite an idea.  I thought about it again and again after that.  Driving to work one morning, I found myself talking to God about it.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  But God, where would I get the money to go?

God:  Just trust Me on that one.

Me:  But God, what about the innoculations?  You know my health isn’t the best and I always have     reactions to stuff.

God:  Just trust Me on that one too.

Me:  But God…..

God:  Are you willing to “step out” for what I am asking you to do?

Well, He had me on that one.  A couple of days later, I was driving home from work.  I turned on the radio and tried channel after channel for something to listen to.  All of a sudden, I turned to a radio station and a voice said “You know that missionary trip you’ve always wanted to go on?  Go do it.”  It sure sounded like God speaking to me.  (It turned out to be a Joel Osteen station).  Well, I had my answer.  I was going to Africa.

It started with raising the money for the trip.  I figured I’d need about $2500 to go.  I sent out ONE donation letter to friends and church members.  I thought, “Well, Lord, if you REALLY want me to go, the money will have to come in.”  Within a short time, $2600 had been raised.  Hmmmm……

Next came the innoculations.  I held my breath when the doctor injected me with shots for Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Yellow Fever.  He also gave me Malaria pills to take.  No adverse reactions to any of it.

It was coming down to the wire now as the date of March 10th, my chosen date for my trip, got closer.  Satan started messing with me now.  I would find myself doubting my going and what could God possibly use me for?  I had no skills to teach anything.  I couldn’t think of anything that I could do there.  I took a test to see what my spiritual gifts were and it came back “Compassion and Mercy.”  What the heck could I do with that?  Oh, but God had a much chosen plan for me.

So the morning of March 10th arrived.  I arrived at O’Hare airport and took my luggage up to the nearest guy handling it.  He weighed both of the pieces and said “That will be $200.  You’re overweight on both of them”.  Oh, great.  Yep, I was not only bringing little gifts to my kids that I had sponsored (which, by the way, had now risen to 14 kids), but I was also bringing food items to Laura and the people I would be staying with, Randall and Jennifer Smith.  Certain items, such as peanut butter and saltine crackers, are harder to get in Rwanda, so I was bringing them some.  All of this made the luggage extremely heavy.  As I prepared to pay it, I began talking about where I was going and what I was going to do.  The man looked at me and said “You know what?  I won’t charge you for the second suitcase.”  What a nice man.  I offered him ten dollars for helping me, thinking he could buy lunch with it or something.  He initially took it, but, after finishing taking care of my luggage, he handed it back to me, saying “Take this and buy something for the Rwandan kids.”  I was already starting to see God working with this trip.

After two eight-hour flights, I made it to Kigali, Rwanda.  Kigali is the capital of Rwanda.  Laura was there to meet me.  We got in the car she had borrowed and set out for Randall and Jennifer’s house.  Randall and Jennifer had moved to Rwanda last fall so that they could help Laura with the mission.  As Laura put it, “you’ll find Randall and Jennifer’s house to be better for you.  They have INDOOR plumbing.”  Uh, yes, I guess so…..     As we drove to their house, about 20 minutes out of the city, I found myself looking at mud houses and some pretty poor neighborhoods.  We arrived at the house, which was surrounded by a concrete “fence”.  It seemed that the larger houses had these fences around them that completely enclosed the house.  I met Randall and Jennifer.  I immediately felt like we had known each other a long time.  After we talked for a couple of hours, we went to bed.  When I saw the bed, I felt like I was in a movie set from a movie I had seen before.  There was mosquito netting around the bed hanging from the ceiling.  I crawled into the bed and slept soundly.

At 6 a.m. the next morning, I was awakened by a neighbor’s baby crying, an African woman singing in her language, and a rooster crowing.  That was a jolt to reality.  I got up and went to the bathroom.  In the bathroom was a toilet, a small sink, and a drain in the floor with a faucet over it.  No shower.  There was also what looked like a large garbage can full of water.  It turned out that there wasn’t running water all the time.  When it WAS running, you filled this can up to use when there wasn’t running water.  Well, we hit PLENTY of those days.

Laura had drawn up an itinerary for my time with her.  On the first day, Saturday, we drove over to a place called ERM in Masaka to have a Children’s Kids Club.  It is similar to our VBS.  This was the second Saturday that they had met.  There were close to 100 kids there.  When I got out of the car, the kids began running up to me, hugging me for all they were worth.  Such lovable kids.  These kids had nothing material wise, but they had LOVE.  We played with them for a little while, then Laura sang songs with them in their language, told bible stories to them (and quizzed them on the stories), and passed out papers for them to color. They got two crayons a piece.  That’s all there was.  They didn’t care what color they were.  They seldom got crayons.  Then, we passed out something cold to drink and a little snack.  Bananas are prevalent in Rwanda, so many snacks are bananas.  After 3 hrs. with the kids, one last hug and they walked home.

That afternoon, we visited with some children in one of the worst poverty-stricken areas.  These children seemed starved for love.  These people, mostly women with children, had little, if any, money.  Many of them turned to prostitution.  We walked into an area and met the children.  Laura brought them little gifts…  balloons to be blown up and a little craft to make.  Seeing the brace on my leg, one of the women set out an old wooden chair for me to sit on.  I must have looked really hot (I was), so the children began to fan me with papers that Laura had handed out to them.  Nothing like having ten little kids fanning you all at the same time !  I had my own air conditioning !  Then, two of the mothers were examining my hair.  They don’t see long, blond hair too often.  The two of them began to braid my hair while I was sitting there !  I think they did it because they saw how hot I was!  I had one long braid tucked up in the back and a small braid on each side.  It was sure funny !!

The next morning was Sunday.  We left at 7:30 a.m. for a two hour drive up into the mountains to a small town called Ruzizi.  There we met the pastor and his wife at their house.  It is a big thing for these people to have visitors.  The hugs abounded !  They set out bananas and breads to eat.  They also provided Chai tea.  We had some prayer time, then walked behind their house to the church.  The church wasn’t very old and wasn’t completely finished.  It still had mud walls and a dirt floor.  But the worship time was wonderful !  Songs were sung in their language with a choir.  I didn’t understand all the words, but our interpreter, Kabuto, who had come with us, explained the words to me.  They were all about Jesus, being covered in His blood, the King of Kings, etc.  You could just FEEL the Holy Spirit in the room.  Randall preached that morning and Kabuto interpreted to the people there.  The room was full.  When it came time for the offering, some people put in a small coin, others brought up a small bag of produce that they had raised.  At the end of the service, the produce was auctioned off to the people that DID have money, and the money went to the church.

The pastor announced to the people that I would be speaking in the afternoon at 3 p.m. and all the women were invited.  Church ended after 3 hours.

We went to lunch after church with the pastor and his wife.  It was a beautiful place to eat, about halfway down the mountain and on a lake.  The surrounding scenery was beautiful.  We ate outside.

After lunch, we headed back to the church and my meeting with the women.  65 women showed up to hear me speak! Now, I’ve been a speaker in the past and also a teacher for a few years.  But I didn’t have a clue what I was going to say to these women.  I would have Kabuto to interpret for me, which I had never done before either.  So I decided to give my testimony.  I talked about sexual abuse, physical abuse, and verbal abuse that I was a survivor of.  Then I talked about being a widow.  It turned out that more than half the room was widows.  As I talked about the depression, loneliness, and anger that comes with being a widow, I saw a woman in the front row nodding her head with everything I was saying.  I finally took a moment and said “I keep watching this woman and I see that she has agreed with everything I am saying about being a widow.”  I walked up to her and she said “Yes, I am a widow.  I know all about depression and anger.  I didn’t know that American women had this happen too.”  I hugged her and went back to talking.  I noticed that there was an older woman in the front row that looked very unhappy.  I started talking to her and found out that her husband had been killed in the Genocide.  His body had actually been chewed on by street dogs.  I didn’t know what to say.  Lord, what do I do?  I could tell that she was very bitter.  I finally asked five women to come up, lay hands on her, and we would pray over her.  We prayed and she sat back down.  I could tell that this woman was stuck in her grief, even though the Genocide had happened twenty years ago.  From what we could tell, this woman only came occasionally to church and sort of “wallowed” in her bitterness and grief.  She was unable to move on.  And it seemed that the other women were tired of hearing her story.  It was interesting to see the women that HAD moved on and this woman that HADN’T.  I encouraged them to stick together, to care about each other, to pray together, and to help each other.  Only a widow knows the feelings that another widow is feeling.  I shared Psalm 37:4 with them: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  I told them, also, that Jesus is a husband to the widows.  He is ALL you have, but He is ALL you need.  When I finished speaking, all the women rushed up to me and hugged me.  It seemed that the talk had gone well.

On Monday, we took a drive out to Rusheshe to visit the sewing center where women were learning to sew clothes.  They would eventually be able to sew clothing to sell in the marketplace and bring in money to their families.  As we drove to Rusheshe, I watched all the people along the way.  Rwanda has many people and they are all going SOMEWHERE every day.  There are very few automobiles there.  So the people either walk, take a Moto (a man driving a motorbike and you on the back), or a bicycle (a man riding a bike with you on the back).  The Moto’s and bikes are prevalent all over.  Most people are traveling to fill a 5-gallon container with water at the local well.  These wells are spaced far out, so it can take hours to walk there and then walk back.  I saw small children even carrying these containers by themselves.  This is a daily ritual for most of these people.  Every day they do the same thing.  Sometimes, the children that go to school walk 1-2 hours home, then gather up the container and walk to get water.  What a long day for these children !

Another thing that stood out to me is the STARES that you get from the Rwandans.  Caucasian people are VERY rare in Rwanda, so you really stand out !  As you drive past the children, they call out “Muzungu !  Muzungu !” which means “White person !”  They all stand and wave to you, and are truly delighted when you wave back to them !  I held my arm next to one of the children one day, and he just giggled and smiled !

We arrived at the sewing center and I met the women.  Younger women that so wanted to learn a skill so that they could be able to earn an income.  Once again, I was asked to speak to these women.  Laura said “Why don’t you just give your testimony again?”  So, once again, I began my story.  There were a few widows in the group, but what amazed me was the way that God turned my story this time and took it down another path.  As I once again talked about the abusive background, I could see the look in these women’s eyes that they HIGHLY understood what I was talking about.  I talked about how I had a hard time forgiving myself for things that I did in my past even though I knew that God had forgiven me.  When I asked if anyone in the room had a question or anything to share, the room got quiet.  Then, one by one, women began sharing their similar stories as mine.  Laura told me later that Rwandan women seldom share things like that and that the women had really responded well to me.  It was good for them to talk their feelings out.  They also said that they didn’t know that American women had the same problems as the Rwandan women.  Laura shared with them that I had many medical problems, but had wanted to come to Africa all my life and now had a chance to do it.  It brought a feeling of comradery between us as we talked about God’s love for us.  At the end, I shared with them Philippians 3: 13b… “…Forgetting what is BEHIND and straining toward what is AHEAD, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Many hugs were given before I left that day….

When I got home, Randall, Jennifer, and I discussed the talks I had done in the two days there.  I felt that NOW I knew why God had sent me there.  These women needed to hear what I had to TELL them.  THAT was my purpose.  As someone put it, “God turned your TRIALS into TRIUMPHS.”

On Monday afternoon, I got to meet the young woman, Claudine, that I had sponsored the sewing machine when she graduated sewing class.  Claudine is a beautiful young woman, very quiet, with a small child.  She is married, but her husband doesn’t bring in much money from his job.  She was thrilled that she now had a sewing machine to make clothes not only for her family, but to sell.  We visited at her home and met her husband.  He seemed like a kind, gentle young man.  He thanked me over and over for what I had done.  Claudine presented me with a beautiful quilted bag that she had made for me to thank me.  They offered us the customary bananas, then he prayed before we left their home.

Tuesday.  We went to Fumbwe sewing center, which is now a cooperative.  We visited with the ladies, then Laura and I delivered a few mattresses that were donated to a few of the women.  One woman said it was the very first mattress that she had EVER slept on.  Oh, the things we take for granted….

I also got to meet Godance.  I had seen a picture of Godance a few months ago as she graduated from a sewing class.  She has been a BIG motivation to me.  Godance is a young crippled lady and walks with two canes.   Godance wanted to learn to sew so bad that she walked two hours to get to the sewing class every day.  What an inspiration !  We met with Godance at her home and she was thrilled to get to meet me !  We even compared our leg braces !!

I visited with some of my sponsored students in their homes that afternoon.  Their homes reminded me of little caves.  They were made from concrete and had 1-2 very small rooms.  The door to the home was generally a curtain hanging.  They always offered me a seat on what was probably the only chair in the house.  And they ALWAYS offered something to eat, as was their custom.  Mostly, if they were very poor, they would put out a bowl of bananas.  If they had a LITTLE money, they were proud to offer you a “Fanta” soda.  Yes, Fanta is still available out there.  Fanta almost seemed like a status symbol.  Each parent expressed their sincere “thank you” for sponsoring their child in school, as schooling would not be affordable otherwise.  I even received some gifts from some of the students, whether it was a handwritten letter to me or something they had made.  Before we left each home, a prayer was said, as is the custom there.

On Wednesday, Randall, Jennifer, and I visited the Genocide Memorial in the morning.  What a sad place that is.  The Genocide happened about 20 yrs. ago between two tribes.  One of the tribes was seeking power.  They used their machetes to hack people to death, even small children.  Thousands were killed.  The pictures of the people that were killed were hanging in the building.  Rwanda set up a memorial garden for the dead and buried what remains were found.  I was thankful that they gave the people a decent burial and remembrance.

That afternoon, we went up to the hospital in Masaka.  Laura, Randall, and Jennifer routinely go up to this hospital, bring small gifts to the patients, and pray with them.  Most of the patients truly wanted the prayers.  I noticed that the hospital didn’t seem very clean, with patients lying on dirty sheets.  Laura told me that the people had to bring their own sheets there.

Next we visited with baby Grace in the hospital.  Baby Grace is a newborn that had been abandoned.  She had a mark on her head, as if her mother had tried to kill her, and is somewhat delayed mentally.  Laura and Jennifer take turns going to visit her and exercise her legs and arms.  They also bring clean clothes and blankets for her.  As I was getting tired by now, Laura suggested that I sit in a chair with baby Grace and rest for a while.  So, I sat and rocked Grace.  I sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her and any other songs that came to mind.  I noticed that I had a number of women coming by and staring at me.  I guess it looked unusual for a white woman to be rocking an African baby !  Jennifer said I looked like a “Grandma” there!  Well, I’ve had lots of experience with that….   J

That evening, several students showed up for a Bible Study.  These are the older students that were going to vocational school to learn a trade.  The students were very friendly.  We played Jenga with them, which they EXTREMELY loved !  Then we talked about the bible.  One student, Manuel, said that he loved the book of Revelations !  He was a very educated young man.  He proceeded to talk about many bible stories and that Jesus was coming back some day.  I really loved listening to him and commented that maybe he should be a pastor someday…

On Thursday, we took a two and a half hour ride up into the mountains to the Akagera National Park.  It seemed we were one of the only people there.  It was beautiful up there, with its mountains and savannahs.  We started out driving in our little Toyota car, but it started to rain.  The dirt roads turned slick immediately and we slid around as if we were on black ice.  We did manage to see many monkeys, zebras, warthogs, several species of birds including an eagle, a large crocodile, and a hippo (who decided to duck under the water just as I was taking his picture !).

Friday, I was terribly tired, so we decided to stay home that morning.  We were having a party for all the children that I had sponsored that afternoon.  We set out bananas and breads for them.  The children showed up and we fed them.  Laura had brought some games, so the children were taught to play Memory and make puzzles.  I have to say that the Rwandan people really concentrate at everything they do, even games.  There is no fighting or arguing when someone wins.  They all get along.  If only our American children were like that !  We went outside with some bubbles that Laura had brought, which were a BIG hit !

On my last day, Saturday, we once again went to the Children’s Bible Club in Masaka.  Laura had brought the bubbles with, which these children had never seen.  Oh, what FUN !!  The children were THRILLED as I continued to blow bubbles for them to catch !  As Laura went on with their bible stories, I had two children, one new little child and one of my sponsored students (whose name was DARLENNE) sitting next to me.  They cuddled up closely to me as if we had known each other for years.  Oh, how my “hug tank” was filled in Rwanda….

As I flew out that night from Kigali headed for Amsterdam and home, I realized how God had made all the pieces fit in this trip.  Perfectly.  It took 20 years to be able to go on this trip.  20 yrs. ago, I would not have been a widow and had a story to tell.  20 yrs. ago, I would have still been married and maybe not have been able to go with a husband that was ill.  20 yrs. ago, I may not have had a “healed” heart yet from all the abuse, which I am now comfortable talking about.  20 yrs. ago, I would not have been the independent woman I have now become, able to travel this distance by myself.  Oh, yes, God really DOES do things in HIS perfect timing.  God really DID turn my TRIALS INTO TRIUMPHS.  And He alone fulfilled my heart’s desire…

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”.

Psalm 37:4


The Preciousness of Christ

Since the beginning of 2016 I have been taking a look back at my life as a widow in order to consider all that has transpired and to see what changes have been for my good. My focus has been especially on my spiritual life because I believe that looking back for that purpose is beneficial and needed.

During the first six to nine months of widowhood I was so numb that I literally did not care about anything. By saying that I am not saying that I felt suicidal, but that for the first time  I did not worry about how things were going to turn out. I did not worry if the two homes on thirteen acres of property were going to sell.  I did not worry about whether or not I was going to find another place of my own to live in a larger town closer to two of my daughters. I just did not care. I felt no guilt about not reading my Bible because my comprehension was not there. Praying was impossible because I had no words and felt like God was going to do whatever He wanted to do anyway. Listening to music was impossible because the familiar melodies and lyrics were way too painful.

After that time period passed and my numbness was gradually beginning to fade, I began to be concerned that God was disappointed in me. I had accepted Christ as my own personal Savior as a nine year old girl and had followed Him the best I knew how all of my life. I was the “good girl” that sat back and learned from other people’s mistakes. My tendencies to be a perfectionist and to do everything just right (my husband used to say that if someone asked me to jump I would ask them how high) was my idea of pleasing God and being the kind of Christ follower that He wanted. This period of just not caring, not reading my Bible and no longer praying must be wrong and I thought God had to be shaking His head and be upset with that kind of response to grief.

It wasn’t until I began working with a Christian psychologist that I learned that God not only made me the way that I am, but He knew what my response to grief was going to be. He knew how upset and disappointed I would be with Him for not stepping up and answering my prayers the way that I wanted them answered. He even understood that  anger that I felt towards Him. In fact, He was big enough to handle it. He was not shaking His head at me in consternation. He understood the great pain that I was feeling and even provided that period of numbness because it was more than I could possibly bear. Simply surviving was all that I could do.

Then came that second year when the reality set in that this really was my life now. My husband was not just away on a long trip. He truly was not coming back. A widow friend of mind described our third year as a time of trying to find out who we are. The fourth year is when we begin to focus on who God is to us now. I found that year five was a time of giving myself permission to lie beside those still waters and wait on God.

Now I am part way into my sixth year and am finding that my focus is on searching out the depth of the love of Christ for me as an individual. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is doing a Bible study by radio entitled “How to Fall in Love and Stay in Love with Jesus”. She asked some questions that really struck a chord in my heart:

“Do you ever stop and think as you go into that time with the Lord that He wants to see your face? He wants to hear your voice?

She goes on to say that there are seasons in our life circumstances in which we face mountains where we feel like there is no way possible to climb them much less overcome them. Those are seasons when “He (Christ) calls us to come away with Him into those circumstances and experience His supernatural power.”

It would be much easier for me this year to stay in that place lying beside the still waters and not put in the effort to search out the depths of Christ’s love for me. Yet, there is a deep desire to experience more of the love that my husband is experiencing in complete totality there in heaven. In order to know more about heaven and all that is going on up there, I have to get to know Christ better.

The main way that I am doing this is to really take notice of the blessings of each day and write them down. Now that sounds like a little thing, but I am finding that I am seeing more and more of God’s love for me personally. For instance, today the first thing I wrote down was warm/hot water in the shower to soothe me. That may not sound like much, but I experience tight aching muscles in my neck and shoulders because of lymes disease. A shower gives me moments where I can just say, “AHHH!!! Thank you, Jesus!”

One day last week I wrote down how God directed me to fill out a questionnaire for home and auto insurance quotes which, in turn, led me to call the developer of my housing community to help me answer a particular question. In the course of the conversation with him I received information on what to look for when seeking out an insurance company. My husband had always taken care of that kind of thing and I had no knowledge of the correct way to go about it. Unbeknownst to my developer, who named a particular insurance company’s change of pay-outs on certain claims (a company we were with for 25 years and one that I just continued on with as a widow), I found out that the urging in my spirit to get new quotes was for a reason. It is one of those “God things”. God has my back and He is the one that gave me that sense that a change might be needed. That’s His way of loving me as an individual. When I write down blessings like this, I am overwhelmed with God’s care for me and I weep. It feels good to know that God is my husband now and I am never ever alone.

There have been many changes in my life in the last six years and I have talked about those in other blog posts, but the biggest change has been spiritually. I have come from the point at the beginning of widowhood where I was totally crushed and disappointed with God to a point now of rebuilding a new personal relationship with Him. I do not mean that I lost my salvation for that can never be lost once you repent of your sins and accept Him as your personal Savior. My relationship has become deeper and much more personal. Instead of feeling like I am walking in a crowd of others, I am finding that I am picturing myself in a one-on-one conversations with Jesus. Sometimes that picture is of us sitting together in a quiet and peaceful place. Sometimes we are walking along together – just Jesus and me. Many times we are riding together in the front seat of my car because after all, I enjoy going for long drives several times a week. So, of course, He is riding along with me.

What about you? Can you as a widow say that Jesus has become more precious to you? Have you drawn closer to Him knowing that He is all that you have now or have you pushed Him away, turned your back on Him and run the other way to do things on your own and in your way? It would seem to be easier to run than to stay and do all the hard work that goes with facing your grief head on and walking through it. Yet, running away will eventually lead to a dead end where you hit a brick wall at break neck speed.

“Now to you who keep trusting, He is precious.” I Peter 2:7a  Complete Jewish Bible