Widows of Opportunity

Recently I began following a widows organization called Widows of Opportunity. The Cola Daily News in Columbia, South Carolina wrote an article about Kim Richardson and Widows of Opportunity  from which I want to share:

When Kimberly Richardson lost her husband in 2003, it could have been the end of her life. She was isolated and depressed, and very much in denial about what had happened. The love of her life and father to her child was killed unexpectedly in a car crash on Oct. 17 when he was just 27. 

At age 24 and with a 6-year-old son, life had turned upside down. After five years of denial and anger, Richardson came through her ordeal and founded Widows of Opportunity.

The nonprofit organization was created out of her own personal experiences with dealing with life as a widow. Richardson said that while family and friends initially surrounded her in the days and weeks after the incident, she did not have the consistent support that she desired.

Richardson wanted to make sure women who had just lost their spouses could access an outlet to deal with their grief as well as be around a community of women that have shared experiences.

“I want widows to know that you’re not alone, you’re not going crazy, and we’re here to listen to you,” she said. “There’s hope after loss.”

Today Kim continues her ministry with Widows of Opportunity and offers personal videos every week on her Facebook page called “Widows of Opportunity”. She also has a website that offers grief tips, motivational videos, testimonials as well as a 6 week grief course that can be done via Skype. Kim is also a motivational speaker and grief specialist.

What I especially love about Kim is that she is REAL. Her love and care for widows comes across so strongly in her weekly videos on Facebook and they always end with her beautiful smile and wave that makes you feel that you have been in a one-on-one conversation with her. If you have never gone for grief counseling or done any kind of grief work, seriously consider signing up for Kim’s 6 week grief course. Grief work with help is a must and this is a great way to start.

Fighting Forward

One thing that I find very affirming and healing is to read books written by Christian widows and some widowers. To this date I have read over fifty and have found that there are several books that are my top three. One such book is a new one called Fighting Forward written by a remarried widow Jan Owen from Alabama. For those widows who find themselves struggling greatly with their shattered faith, people who have lost a loved one or someone who wants to understand the grief that their friend is going through, this book is a must read.

Jan’s story sharing what life has felt like to her after the loss of her husband is one that is very raw. She chooses not to sugar-coat her words in order to just be real. There are those Christian widows who may not feel that they can ever take off their mask during grief thus giving others the impression that they are doing alright. Jan rips off her mask and allows herself to become openly vulnerable. As a result, she lost some friends.

Her intent in writing this book is to let others know that it is okay to share your grief in totality from the deepest parts of your heart. In fact, it’s very healing. After all, God created us and knows exactly how we are going to react when we lose our spouse. You cannot hide all that your are feeling from Him. As my Christian psychologist Dr. Dan Trathen always told me, “This is not God’s first rodeo.” God is not surprised or taken aback at our rage or anger towards Him. Our questions don’t cause Him to be disappointed in Him. Instead, He uses those questions to draw us into a much different and much closer relationship to Him if we allow it.

Choosing to live when I’d rather not is the bravest thing I’ve ever done”, says Jan. When my husband first died, I wanted to curl up in a corner with a blanket over my head and never move again. Closing down is always an option for a new widow or even one further down the road, but it is never a healthy one. It’s far harder to stand up, take that blanket off our head, put on your boxing gloves and begin to purposely take one step forward at a time. There are times when we’ll find ourselves taking a few steps backwards and that is normal. Those backward steps come when a grief trigger hits or when we just become so very tired in our journey that a rest stop is needed. The key is to never stay in that backward spot. It takes more guts to fight forward and God gives us the strength to do that.

God can and will use that deep, deep soul pain that you go through after the loss of your spouse. Whether it is to walk alongside another widow and encourage them in their journey, gathering names of new widows throughout the year and then sending each of them a special box for Christmas, sending out widow resources to new widows that you hear about or going to grad school to become a grief counseling specialist such as Jan is doing, your grief will not be without a purpose.

Have you chosen to fight forward? Or are you still lying on the mat struggling? No matter what your answer is, this book is one that will help you and allow you to know that you are not alone. Don’t be afraid to fight forward! You can find more information about Jan and her book on her Facebook page called Fighting Forward.

A Gentle Shift

Within the last seven months I have felt a gentle shift in my life. It began with the thought that maybe it’s time to think about getting a puppy as a companion. My daughters had all suggested to me many times in these last years that this might be something good for me, but I resisted that idea because I had a great fear of the possibility of loving something, or in this case one of God’s creatures, and losing it. I would not even give the idea a moment of consideration.

I suppose with this shift comes even more acceptance that this truly is my life now and I need to look forward more than backwards. There is truly no way for me to ever forget the life that I lived with my husband Bob nor the dreams that I had of us growing old together and being there for each other as we aged. But the time that God had planned for Bob on this earth was much shorter than either of us could have ever surmised. He has gone on to Glory while I remain here on this earth to live out the rest of my planned days.

Beginning in the second year of my widowhood and continuing on into my fifth year, the thought foremost in my mind was that I had to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Why am I still here? What is God’s purpose for me now? How do I really LIVE the life that I have been given? What do I do to fill my days doing things that are purposeful and meaningful? What do I do to feel like I belong now? How do I not feel like a third wheel in every situation I am in? How do I feel like I am not that sore thumb that sticks out? What does it take to go from that woman who feels like she has a big red “W” on her forehead to that single woman whose face shines from walking and talking with God all throughout her days?

These were the questions that continuously plagued me as they swirled around and around in my head depleting me of energy and frustrating me because the answer were not forthcoming. So, I decided to let all of those questions go the best that I could and just be still and wait. I am finding out that God doesn’t seem to want to answer all of my questions at one time. He probably knows that it would be too overwhelming for me. In fact, there may be some questions that He won’t answer. Instead, slowly like the turtle who creeps from one side of the highway to the other He allows a shift in my thinking and feelings that begin to gradually guide me forward.

It has taken me these last seven months to begin to even act on that shift. I have meticulously researched breeders for the type of puppy that I would like to have (female toy schnauzer) and have narrowed it down to two possibilities – both out of state. This week I will talk by phone to the breeder that lives the closest to me in order to get a feel for how we might work together and to ask more direct questions.

Tomorrow someone from one of the local fence companies will come to give me an estimate for putting up a small pet fence around my back patio. I wait for a return call from another fence company so that I can schedule a 2nd estimate with them in order to make a good decision. I already have a list of necessary questions that I got online to ask each representative.

I have read much about housebreaking, crate training, vet needs, obedience training as well as listened to online videos on each subject. List making and narrowing down exactly what puppy supplies are really needed has been completed. Vet research commenced and I found a wonderful small pet veterinarian that is a little over a mile from my house. He also just happens to have the best prices in town for his services.

My youngest brother’s help has been enlisted and I have sought his advice in several areas. He has owned a toy schnauzer for years. It’s good for me to have him walk alongside me in this new venture and encourage me on the days that I get scared about it all and wonder what in the world I am doing. This is a big step, but I have a feeling that it can be a step that will be beneficial emotionally and help not only to fill my days, but provide some good companionship.

Why does this new venture frighten me? Is it because I will once again become a caregiver taking on the responsibility of the care of the life of another being? Is it the realization that in order for me to have a loving, obedient pet, I must be committed and consistent to its training for a year? Is it that perfectionism tendency that I have that I might not chose the right breeder or the puppy whose adult size will be right and whose personality will be gentle and laid-back like this introvert needs? Is it just all the fears of the unknown?

In all honesty, it’s all of those thing and if I allow my mind to dwell on those uncertainties, I can very easily draw back into my shell, shut down and decide that I am just not brave enough to move forward.

Yet, if I do that, I might just miss an asset that could improve my life as a widow. So, I am stepping forward in trepidation with much prayer for exact direction in each and every decision that will need to be made in the next few months and trusting that this shift that God began in my heart those seven months ago is going to bring something special into my life.

Have you felt a shift in your life as a widow? If so, tell me about it. How did you feel? What new direction did you go?

Journey to a Sacred Place

“My life is a long journey to a sacred place 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 there are things that only God can reveal about my life. God wants to be intimately involved in my journeys 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.”

——–Gary Barkalow/It’s Your Call: What Are You Doing Here

The Treasure Box

It never ceases to amaze me the ways that God uses to speak very profound truths into my life. This month my sweet 16 year old autistic friend Brady stood with his mom and older brother at the graveside of his father. His mother wasn’t quite sure what his concept of death would be nor how he would react to it all.

Several nights before this Brady had prayed aloud with his family and his paternal grandparents telling the Lord how very sad they all were that his dad had died. This……from a child who came from a place where he could not speak. Over time and with much help from his mom and professionals, Brady has blossomed and developed into this sweet young man who not only speaks, but is able to express his emotions. His heart is BIG for others. His smile lights up a room. He “gets” things that others don’t “get”. A precious jewel God sent into this world to teach those around him so many unexpected truths.

As the casket was being lowered into the ground, Brady looked at his mom and said, “Is that the treasure box? Are they burying the treasure box?” Mom’s answer was “Yes“. When she shared that with me, an arrow immediately struck me in the heart. I knew there was a deep truth from God here. I began to mull over what Brady asked and this morning the answer came.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.” II Corinthians 4:7

Earthen vessels were clay jars fashioned by skilled potters who would take a lump of clay, shape it, mold it, and bake it until it was hard. Those jars were then painted, glazed and decorated for whatever purpose the potter had planned for it. Many jars had sacred scrolls or valuable documents that were rolled up and hidden inside.

Our bodies are temporary housing places for the treasure of the light of the rich truth of the gospel that displays the glory of God. When our earthly body is laid inside the casket, that casket becomes the box that holds the vessel that housed that treasure. That casket becomes a Treasure Box holding our physical bodies that will one day be resurrected to become glorified bodies if we have accepted Christ as our personal Savior.

Never again will I look at a casket the same way. Hereafter I will call it a Treasure Box.

Thank you, Brady, for being exactly who God made you to be and for revealing a new truth to comfort my heart.

brady-brenda-taylor(Brady on the left looking down at his mom standing next to his big brother at the graveside of their dad)

Dangerous Waters for a Widow

ss-imageNot all widows experience online dating scams. Some are successful in finding a good husband. But, what about those widows who are introduced to someone through a mutual friend? Some matches will work. Others will not. Such is the story of a widow who wishes to remain anonymous and tells her story in her own words.

Candy has been encouraging me for some time to share my story. I have started to do that several times, but the timing just wasn’t right. I’d like to share this now.

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to someone through a mutual friend. We immediately hit it off. It wasn’t long until we were seeing each other all of the time. We seemed to have so much in common and we rarely ever had differences or cross words. I was showered with compliments continually and was really just swept off my feet. It had been about 2 years since my husband of almost 30 years had died. I missed him terribly and did not realize just how lonely I was feeling.

I have lived in my present town a little over 20 years and have really settled in quite well. My son and his family live about an hour east of me and the rest of my family (sisters, mothers, cousins) live about two hours south of me. I have great support at my church and was very involved there even before my husband died. I have numerous close friends who really care about me.

Back to my story…..about 4 months after I started dating, my new man friend was talking marriage. Every warning sign under the sun was right there, but i just didn’t want to see it. Note to self: IF your family all thinks someone you are dating is “not good for you”, if your friends express concern that you are “acting differently”, well, as Jeff Foxworthy says, “Here’s your sign!” The warning signs for me were: he had been married multiple times (not judging; just stating the facts), he was not responsible with his money, and he was a little too needy with attention from me.

Looking back now, it seems like someone else was living in my brain. I have always been the responsible one! I was looking for happiness in a person and all along I knew God loved me and had better plans for me. Honestly, I was just plain rebellious.

I had worked all of my adult life. I have been mostly frugal and conscientious with the money I have earned. God has blessed me with a tremendous gift of organization and administration. I had enough sense about me to not tie the knot. I actually even talked to an attorney about a prenup. But, I knew in my heart that he wasn’t the one.

In my case he wasn’t a scam artist or anything like that, but he was, in my opinion, probably an opportunist and very lonely himself. Yep. Lonely people don’t make a good spouse. I still think he has feelings for me. I really do, but we are strictly friends. By friends, I mean that our dating relationship ended peacefully. We don’t date or share innocuous intimacies.

If I had just gone with my emotions, I would have ended up in a terrible mess. We do have a lot in common, but we have way too many differences to ever get married. We are most definitely “unequally yoked” in every sense of the word.

My caution to other widows is to not EVER act on your emotions. If something doesn’t seem right, listen to the Holy Spirit speaking to you. Do not ignore Him. God knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and He truly wants the best for us. We just need to let Him be our all. In His good time (and He’s always right on time), He will give us who/what we need and not who/what we THINK we need.

The photo of the sign pictured above was taken by me. When I saw it, God was dealing with the rebellion in me. How’s that for the “sign”?

Widows Beware! Broken Hearts and Busted Wallets


Widow Terrie Krumal was a certified educator and a counselor at Consumer Credit Counseling Service for over ten years. Her background and training is regarding credit and housing counseling. She shares invaluable information dealing with online dating that she has given me permission to share with you in her own words.

Losing a spouse can be a debilitating event that can affect us for weeks, months or even years. Honestly, I don’t think we ever get over it or get used to it. We all react so differently to that life event, but one trait is very common. Until the “fog” clears, our minds don’t quite connect, analyze or warn us when there is imminent danger. This is such a well-known fact that the dating scammers and con men specifically target widows. The cons know just what to say and in such a caring way that it catches a person off guard. Just check with the Better Business Bureau regarding door to door sales. If we are not analyzing all information the scammer/con man has shared with us, we become easy prey.

Let me pause here for just a moment and share that I thought I would be writing these words of caution to women regarding online dating, but after talking to several people, this information needs to apply to all of the other ways of meeting men.

There are ways to meet men – at church, at exercise class, at the grocery store or at stained glass workshops – and we assume that they are harmless and are the safest way to go. This is not necessarily the case. Maybe a little safer than online meetings, but those areas noted above still have con artists, scammers and not so nice guys. We must keep in mind that scammers/con men are out there in great numbers and are getting very sophisticated in their relationships. It behooves us to educate ourselves in preparation for meeting ANY man and to steel our resolves on how we connect with them and what we share with them.

Several celebrities such as Dr. Phil have covered the topic of online dating pointing out the perils of most of the websites. When Dr. Phil presented the facts of the scam, some women refused to believe him. This was even when faced with the truth.

Many of the websites give alerts to the dangers that may lurk in their website and how to avoid them. The Federal Trade Commission devotes a large segment on their website to the scams of dating websites. This is a great indicator of how elevated this issue has become. The victims are now in the tens of thousands.

But when you watch TV and talk to others who have had a good experience with the websites (and it does happen!), it’s hard to keep in mind the dangers that may lie ahead. We may become so desperate that we ignore those dangers even when we are having something inside warning us to run the other way!!

So, with all that in mind and with my previous employment experience as a consumer credit counselor who cautioned people on many scams, I felt I was educated enough to come up against the scammers and not fall for any of their tricks. I felt I could sort the good from the bad and the ugly!!

BOY, WAS I WRONG!!

Right now I want to stop and say if you have been scammed or in a relationship that may be a scam, please STOP and talk to a friend, a pastor or a trusted counselor. Please don’t be embarrassed or hesitant to talk to someone now. You need to seek the wisdom and discernment of a trusted individual.

Why do we “go looking for love in all the wrong places” and how do these people break down our barriers and succeed in taking advantage of us?

They shower you with loving words, the desire to meet you soon and the aspiration to “lay the world at your feet”. Sorry, but when you are a widow and you haven’t heard those words or felt that way for some time, it’s very easy to fall for their approach. They build up a relationship and you trust in them. Then they ask you for money. Not for themselves (of course!), but for a “sick child” or gifts for an orphan (really!) or a struggling business.

Or, they ask for your address so they can send you gifts and flowers, but what comes are delinquent bills, money laundering scams or even bank fraud. If you start to question them, they usually get defiant and angry or try to turn it around and make you the problem.

The Federal Trade Commission has a wonderful website with information regarding scams, what to do if you have become a victim of any type of scam other than dating website scams and many more scam details. You can file a complaint and if given enough time and details, they can catch the thieves. Unfortunately most women are so embarrassed that they never step forward and file a complaint.

The very first piece of advice is NEVER EVER go offsite. Once they convince you to go off the dating website, the scamming starts. If you remain on the website, most companies track certain “buzz words”, will advise you of a problem and then block the culprit. You are safer there than offsite, but you still have to remain diligent and cautious in your contacts. Be very careful with the information that you share with others. You don’t need to share everything with them no matter what they say. I actually made up details when someone was asking too much information – another warning sign.

In conclusion, put your life in God’s hands and He will guide you. He has a plan for your life and if there is another man for you, He will make it happen. I hope that doesn’t sound too trite, but being in your same situation as a widow, I have come to the conclusion that it will happen in God’s time. I just have to stop what I am doing and trust Him. After all, He is a good God and He loves us.

Who Was He?

collage-of-bobs-lifeNovember 10th, 2009 – the day our lives changed forever. Bob finished his earthly course and stepped into the presence of his Lord and Savior. The 36 years, 4 months and 10 days of the book of my life as a wife abruptly closed and a new book entitled Just You and I, Lord began. For seven years the chapters have been about brokenness, questions, uncertainties and fears. Woven all throughout those chapters has been the love of God, rebirth of a different kind of relationship with Him, learning to stand up for myself, doing things that I never dreamed I could do, taking the time to process through things that hurt me instead of stuffing them down deep inside my heart……and on and on.

Every year reflecting back is a part of the days and weeks leading up to November 10th. Who was Bob Feathers? The best way to answer that question is to take out the beautiful leather Bible that I was given from the men in the Emissions Lab at Nissan North America. Bob had been the lab manager and had two shifts of men under him. Those men became like family members to him. To say that he cared for each and every one of them dearly would be an understatement. Every night as we prayed together before going to sleep, Bob would pray for them all by name — not just first name, but first and last name. Every December he asked me to bake dozens and dozens of a variety of homemade cookies for them as his love gift to them. When his diet had to change during his last few years there, he ordered bags and bags of trail mix to hand out.

Being in the managerial position was extremely stressful, but Bob did his very best to take into consideration what was going on in each man’s personal life and to encourage them not only personally but professionally. His love and care became evident after his death when those men presented me with a beautiful leather Bible. Engraved on the front bottom right corner are the words “Robert Feathers/Friend”. One of the men that Bob had worked with from the very beginning sent me a note that means more to me than anything and so greatly describes who Bob was:

Bob loved all of you very much. I can still remember the photograph Bob kept on his desk at work of his 4 daughters (Leah, Annissa, Charity & Tshanina). He was so very proud of each of you. He was always talking about his children and his loving wife. Candy – you were the perfect wife for Bob. Bob knew how blessed he was in this life, and how blessed he would be after this life. He is in peace now, and I know that is difficult. I admired, truly admired Bob for the man that he was, for the way he lived his life, for the way he loved his family, for the ethics and his morals, for so many different reasons. He was a great man.

There were four other young men that Bob greatly loved and they were his sons-in-law. After all, he knew that these men were the ones whom he had entrusted the love and care of his four most precious possessions – his daughters. These were the men that would help raise his grandchildren and be the physical and spiritual leaders of their homes. Once a year when all four men were in town together, Bob would take them aside and just talk to them about life, what it means to be a husband, what it means to be a father and, most importantly, how to have a relationship with God. How much more he could say to them now after living in heaven for these last 7 years!

At the time of his death, there were four grandsons and one granddaughter. He loved them with all of his heart. He would talk to me about how he wanted to teach the boys how to repair small engines so that they would always have the knowledge to keep their lawn mowers and weed eaters running. He loved to take them up on his lap and ride them around our country yard on the John Deere riding mower. Letting them steer was the highlight of their day. Our granddaughter Elizabeth looked so much like her mother Leah that Bob nicknamed her “Little Leah”. Those grandchildren each came up to the hospital to show him their Halloween costumes nine days before his death. Bob made sure that he had some candy to give to each one of them because food was his love language and he wanted them to know that no matter how very sick he was, he loved them. Now there are 8 grandsons. Bob would be in his element for sure!

Our four daughters were Bob’s most valuable treasures entrusted to him by God to lead, guide and direct. They meant more to him than anything else in this world. He was so proud of the grown women, wives and mothers they had become. I wish he could know what they are like now seven years later. His chest would swell with love and thankfulness for their personal relationships with God, the way that they love on and care for their husbands, how they work so hard to train their children, how they love on me, their wisdom, their understanding, and how they love others as much as he did.

Bob wasn’t perfect. Neither am I. You could say that we grew up together after marrying at ages 20 and 21. I never once worried that he would not provide for me or our daughters. Never once did the thought that he might leave me enter my mind. I trusted him implicitly. A better picture of Christ’s unconditional love I could not have had. Because I loved/love Bob so deeply, I grieve deeply. Not a day goes by that he is not on my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t tell God how very much I miss him and how much it still hurts to live without him. What a gift it was for me to have experienced a love like that with my one and only! What a privilege it was to care for him and walk with him through those last dark days of his life.

Now I walk through my days with THE ONE – my Lord and Savior – and look forward to the day when I see Him and Bob face to face.

Dating and Remarriage: From a Widow’s Heart

Through my blog and several different private widow groups that I have joined, I have met and made long distance friends with many widows. Three of them have married this year and a fourth one, whom I met via one of my cousins and an aunt, just got engaged. I love the way that Suzanne Russell has shared her thoughts throughout her widow journey. Her words so wonderfully express exactly what her heart is feeling. How very happy I was when she shared last week that God has brought another man into her life and that they are getting married! Here is her story beginning with her first love story in her own words:

Ken and I met as counselors at a YMCA Camp in the Smoky Mountains. He had just graduated from UT Knoxville and grew up in East Tennessee. We married after he enlisted in the Air Force in 1974. His career spanned public recreation, the gas pipeline industry and health care facilities management and oversight. We spend the greater part of our 40 years together raising two children in Texas. He was a man who lived his life loving God’s Word and loving people.

We had a wonderful marriage. He died suddenly from a heart attack in April 2014.

Tom and Ken are so different. It amazes me. I’ve only had two men tell me they loved me. And shortly thereafter ask me to marry them. The same love resonated in them both. I am happy. I am grateful. And I am humbled by my Father’s love toward me. Marrying at my age is not without complications. But I am so joyful to have the opportunity to love and be loved again that the complications are there, but together you find your way. And it’s good.

The Pen

I don’t really know why i bought it.

It was a beautiful thing. The wood expertly turned and polished. My friend Richard made it.

But after I came home and actually used it to write, I realized it was too heavy for my hand. It was a man’s pen. Except I no longer had a man to use it.

But, it was beautiful. So I kept it and gradually began using it to underline verses and make notes in my journal.

One day, about a year ago, I held it out in front of me on upturned palms and said, “Lord, this is a man’s pen. I have no idea if it is your will to bring another man into my life. But if you do, then this belongs to  him.”

I still used it, and sometimes I would smile and think, “Who am I keeping this for?” Seriously? It’s not a simple thing to meet someone and fall in love. But looking out on my third year of widowhood, I thought, “Why not?”

My sister Michele said, “Get online. You might meet a Tom Hanks!” Seriously? Although I did miss messing with a man’s mind…

Am I getting too long here?

I met some real characters and had dates with some very nice men. Suzanne was popular. In a word, Geezerbait! But none, I told my friend Lizzo, were “pen-worthy”. I even had a standard copy & paste response for unwanted attention. And I wanted a tall guy. The taller the better. For once in my life I wanted to feel like a shrimp.

And he had to follow the rules. I felt it honored the Lord and Ken’s memory to remain chaste while being chased. 🙂 Surprisingly it comes up pretty quick in the conversation.

Shall I go on?

My social life was definitely on an uptick. Even my granddaughter, Charly, felt compelled to give me some rules for dating. They are epic, and yes, I’ve broken a few.

I got an email one night from a guy who was pretty interesting. But a whole inch shorter than me. I began to look for my copy & paste response, but something made me write him back expressing my interest while sharing the fact I would likely tower over him if I wore my heels.

This is what he said:

“Suzanne. I know that my appreciation for you will be just as you are, all 70 fabulous inches. If you know 69 is not going to do it for you, I respect that and suggest that you put something in your blurb. If you think it might be fine depending on the man, then let’s go to the Contra Dance on Monday night where you can dance with every age and every height and call it fun.”

That was a good answer! I went dancing.

And out to dinner. And movies. And hiking. And paddle boarding. And kayaking. And festivals….

Because I was spending so much time with Thomas, all the other guys were systematically getting thrown under the bus.

You’ve go to be getting bored by now. I never write this much…

I caught glimpses…Of him concentrating on his scrabble tiles. Hosting a small dinner party. Laughing at my movie pick and watching it anyway. Staring straight into my eyes and grinning while swinging me at the dances.

I knew he was becoming serious. Was I? I tell people I love them all the time, but I couldn’t tell Thomas. It would have opened a door that had been shut since Ken died.

Not a problem for him. He came out swinging and told me flat out he loved me. I just smiled and said nothing. Poor guy. Thomas would not get off the bus. He was riding up front, grinning for all he was worth!

I warned him the vetting process for me would be brutal. And span several states. He said, “Drag me wherever you want. I want Suzanne.” Another good answer.

I loved Ken. No. I love Ken. I know what comes with saying it out loud to a man. It’s foundational, taking things to another level and cutting off all escape routes.

Father, who am I looking for? One of Jesse’s tall sons? Thomas has a heart bigger and taller than many men. when he tells me I’m beautiful, when he tells me he loves me….I believe him.

I told him I love him not long after he gave another good answer to a deeply personal revelation. It was so good to finally say what I had been feeling. Nice. So very nice. A relief.

So. About a week later. After a great day trip to Chattanooga. Seeing Rock City, visiting my cousins and stopping by Ken’s grave, he says – “Marry me Suzanne.”

Jeepers.

What did I say? Thomas says I stalled.

What would people say?

Thomas: “Your friends will think what they will and tell you they are happy for you.”

At home later that night I prayed. My Father’s blessing was what I needed. I love my friends and they love me. Yet here is a man who had the courage to offer himself to me 24/7 for the rest of his life.

I told him he would have an answer.

The next time we met, he told me he heard my hesitation and knew the confidence I had in his faith and walk with Christ was of great importance. He wanted me to have it and did not want to pressure me.

I handed him the pen.

Lizzo: “Gene! Sue gave him the pen!”

Gene: “The pen? What pen? And what’s the significance?”

Lizzo: “It’s almost more significant than Thomas asking her to marry him!”

Gene: “Sue’s getting married?”

Yes. I guess I am. 🙂

The Castle of My Heart

“Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalm 97:10 NIV

One of the most heartbreaking things in the life of a widow is no longer being special, no longer belonging especially to someone, no longer being loved by someone in human form, and no longer having her spouse to guard and protect her. You may have family and friends in your life, but really and truly it’s just you and God now.

Have you ever given any thought about how God is guarding your life as a widow? Yesterday I began reading a new book entitled Guarded by Christ: Knowing the God Who Rescues and Keeps Us that just became available during this month. Author Heather Holleman struggled with depression and anxiety, but found that using mental word pictures to daily focus on the truths of scripture began to help her break down those strongholds in her life.

I am a visual person and as I began to think about what word picture would help me to most understand that God is guarding me, the picture of HighClere Castle, whose massive stone walls stand strong and erect out in the  countryside of Newbury, England, popped into my mind. Because that particular castle was used in the filming of the PBS series Downton Abbey, I knew that I could order an inexpensive replica of it to put on the window sill over my kitchen sink to serve as my daily reminder that I am in the castle where God is standing guard over me.

The location of my castle was especially important to me. Wide open spaces bring a feeling of peace. It’s a place where I can just breathe and feel the muscles in my body begin to relax. Jesus and I are strolling the grounds outside my magnificent castle as I pour out my heart to Him and share with Him all of my fears, concerns and deepest feelings. He quietly listens and then tells me how much He loves me and that I am His own. He puts His arms around me and points back to the protection of the castle walls assuring me that He’s got my back now.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6 NIV

Inside the castle I imagine myself seated with Jesus at a table for two. Flowers sit in the center of the table with their sweet aroma filling our intimate space. There are floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the outdoors flooding the room with warm sunlight that never ceases to uplift my spirits. During the fall and winter months a bright, cheery fire burns in a fireplace close to our table warming us as we sit together in close fellowship. The firelight lights up the gold gilded walls and painted frescoes on the ceiling. Love radiates from the face of my Jesus warming my heart. He reaches across the table and holds my hands letting me know that He’s got this widow life and will never ever leave me alone.

Early this morning as I began to come to consciousness the words and music to a song that my four daughters used to sing as children began to play in my mind. I haven’t thought of this song in years, but how relevant it is to my new word pictures as I meditate on being in the castle  with Jesus as He now guards my heart. Perhaps you will find that word pictures are helpful to you as a widow. When you think of some that are different than the ones I have shared here, please share them with us. How thankful I am that I am not doing widow life alone and that God’s got my back.