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 – https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/hope-aching-heart-day-1/

Day 2 – https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/hope-aching-heart-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

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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.

TURNING MY TRIALS INTO TRIUMPHS

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.  www.lovealiveinternational.com 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

 

Introducing Widow Rachel Moore

Rachel Moore

Rachel Moore became a widow July19, 2012.  She and her husband Gary and their two children Nathaniel and Bethany were missionaries in Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico, when Gary died suddenly of a heart attack.  In this first year, Rachel has given away many of their earthly possessions, packed and shipped the rest of their things to the US, made an international move, lived in a family owned apartment for several months to help them transition back to States living, and now has moved into their own personal rental home.  At this time she is studying to get her real estate license in order to make a living for herself and her children.  With Rachel’s permission, I am sharing something that she has written in her grief journey because I believe it so wonderfully paints a word picture of something that goes on in the heart of a widow.

Beautiful again…..

Today most of our furniture was sold and picked up. We’re down to the extreme bare essentials. I’m feeling very raw today. It’s like more and more of Gary dying as our family furniture disappears. The desk that he prepared for sermons; the bed that we slept in; and the table that we ate together as a family and had so many celebrations with our friends here in Mexico. Everything that we shared together is now gone and my heart is breaking in two. Even the things that we are keeping that remind me of him, such as my Kitchen-Aid mixer that he bought for me, are now packed away in boxes. Our house is empty. It’s empty of things and it’s desolate and void without Gary.

It’s weird, sometimes I forget what his voice sounded like and I get afraid of memories slipping from my consciousness. The pain of loss is deeper than any pain I’ve ever experienced. It’s more real and more intense than childbirth. It can grab me at unexpected times with gut wrenching sobs and a force of pain that I’ve never known before in my life.

And then other times, I fear that I’ll forget how to love. I don’t mean that I won’t remember how to love my children, or my friends, or my God but that I’ll forget what it’s like to love a man. Walking with my fingers intertwined in his was so natural, caressing his ring while we prayed together, and kissing him was such a part of every day life. It’s all starting to feel foreign to me and that is terrifying.

I want to love again but I don’t want to be a teenager again! Gary and I had mature love, we had comfortable love, we had secure love. What would it be like to start all over again? What comfort there is in feeling exuberantly in love and being free to express that love in a multitude of ways within the security and comfort of marriage. There’s no pressure to say the “right” thing because I am already loved and accepted. There isn’t any wondering if I should hold back or dive in, because in either situation the dance of marriage was beautiful.

I always had a talent for creating romance in our marriage. No matter how tired we both were or how stressful life was, I could always create the perfect setting for a relaxing and beautiful evening together. It was the delight of my life to anticipate my beloved’s needs and disappointments in his busy day and orchestrate an evening accordingly.

So yes, I suppose I’m feeling very alone right now and afraid of the future. I am a complex person. I have a “flaming extrovert” side to my personality. I am also a strong leader and can overcome incredible obstacles. But I also have a very introverted, shy and quiet side. In marriage I was able to be a complete person and shared all the aspects of my personality with Gary. I could sing and cook and invite the neighborhood in for dinner but I also  needed to sit quietly with my husband and snuggle in without needing or wanting to face any other person other than my husband. It’s in those more introverted times when I miss him the most. The times when I want to let down my hair and not worry about how I look, what my voice sounds like, or what people will think. I’m my beloved’s and he is mine and his banner over me was love. Gary covered me with a protective banner of love. and now at times I feel very naked, exposed and alone. I miss being emotionally carried and comfortable in his arms.

The weird part about all of these emotions is that I must let go of Gary and let the love that we shared rest in the past before I can welcome all these beautiful things back into my life again in the future. We humans do not like pain. We run from it, we flee from it and we abuse chemicals to numb it. Yet, facing the emotional pain of loss is what frees us up move on in our life and to embrace the future.

I believe that Gary’s and my relationship was incredible because we made it incredible. First and foremost we both knew without any doubt that God was calling us to get married. Not just “allowing” us to get married but we felt the mandate to get married! Secondly, we worked hard together to make our marriage a Godly and loving one. This was not an easy journey. We were both strong willed and opinionated people with a truck load of baggage from our past. Yet, we were diligent to work through these things in order to have a wonderful and strong marriage. And that we did! The result was an intimacy that was unparalleled in those around us. We were diligent to become one, in body, soul, and spirit and the resulting marriage was fantastic!

Because of the effort that went into our marriage, I believe that most great marriages come from sacrifice and yielding to God to become a servant to each other. Great marriages don’t just happen, they are created! Gary and I weren’t handed a “story book marriage”, our story was written through the fiery trials of life. We had a marriage filled with diligence, effort and Godliness and the fruit of that was absolutely astounding!

I typically think in analogies so please indulge me with this one:

Let’s say that Great Uncle Hubert died and left our family a perfect mansion that was the epitome of all of our dreams. We lived in this house and loved this home incredibly! But then a storm came, a terrible storm and a tornado force wind drove it’s fury right through the middle of this beautiful house that had been given to us. We were terribly saddened but assumed that Great Uncle Hubert must have taken out a large insurance policy on such a house. Yet, our sadness turned to despair when we realized that the insurance policy had expired. Our home was gone and our dreams had died. We despaired even of life itself!

On the other hand, let’s assume that Great Uncle Hubert willed us a run down old historic house that was falling apart at the seems. “Gee thanks Uncle Hubert!, thanks a bunch!” But instead of wallowing in our complaints we began to clean, paint and restore this old junk heap of a house. Within a year’s time we had a beautiful home that had the creativity of our family all over it. The warmth of the home had our personal tastes, styles and our hard working finger prints as its heart and soul. This wasn’t “Uncle Hubert’s” run down house anymore, this was our family home that was lovingly established by every drop of sweat, every tear of frustration and every paint stained t-shirt in our closet of well worn work clothes!

What if a tornado hit the second house???? We would weep, wail and mourn deeply because the second house had more intimate value in our life. The second house had become part of our very being. We had invested our very lives in the second house and we had become “one” with her. But after our terrible season of grief what would we do??? We would be willing to invest our lives into another home should God bring one into our lives. We did it once and it was incredible, we can certainly start over with another house and restore it beautifully! The second house may be an English Tutor home rather than a farm house. The resulting beauty would be vastly different but it would be incredible just the same!

My marriage to Gary was not handed to me on a silver platter. We worked hard for what we had and our marriage was truly amazing! It wasn’t a once in a lifetime chance at happiness but something that we learned to do and learned to do it very well! 🙂 It is the realization that we worked hard to create something incredible that gives me the strength and hope to press onward to the future. Our marriage wasn’t handed to us on a silver platter but the effort involved showed us that Godliness and servant hood really does bring amazing fruit.

I don’t know what kind of plans God has for me in the future but I do know that as I yield my whole heart continually to His sovereign plan, life will be beautiful again!

So I’m faced with this dance of pain. Do I face the pain head-on in order to heal thoroughly and become whole and healed in Jesus? Or do I run from the pain and get stuck in a never ending cycle of sadness, grief, and regret? As difficult as it is I am face to face with grief and dealing with it deeply, as I walk side-by-side with my savior. I am committed to allowing Him to conform me more and more into the image of Christ and to mold my heart more closely to His own. Therefore, I set my eyes on Christ and on Christ alone as I press onwards the future! He will make a way for life to be beautiful again!

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” Is. 43:18-19

LaTanya Law’s Widow Story

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LaTanya became a widow 3 years after her husband Demetrius was diagnosed with brain cancer.  She and Miriam Neff share some of her widow story and talks about some things to consider before dating again and possibly remarrying on Chris Fabry Live radio broadcast on Moody Radio.  LaTanya did remarry some years later after dating her new husband Michael for 3 years. You can listen to the broadcast here:

http://www.moodyradio.org/radioplayer.aspx?episode=113906&hour=2

Moody Radio – Special Program for Widows/December 21st

Chris Fabry Live

Chris Fabry of Moody Radio had a special 1 hour program yesterday talking about grief and widows featuring widow of 5 years Miriam Neff who is author of the book FROM ONE WIDOW TO ANOTHER.

To listen to the program, go to http://www.chrisfabrylive.com   Click on “Past Programs“.  Then click on the “Hour 2”  program for December 21st entitled “Grief at the Holidays“.

Meet Christine Thiele

Christine Thiele became a widow in 2005 leaving her as a single parent of 2 young sons.  She is a free lance writer, formal professional, and volunteer youth minister. Since her husband’s death her writing has been focused on grief and healing issues.  She has a blog  called “Memoirs from Widow Island” and in one of her latest posts she wrote about her sons’ reaction to Christmas  this year.  With her permission, I am sharing it with you today.

On a busy day, I can feel it beginning.  I can feel the stress mounting within the walls of my home.  We made it through Thanksgiving, but that’s just the beginning.  The kids and I brace ourselves for the holidays.  I can almost feel them hunkering down, getting ready to maintain and handle themselves as we watch the world move through the holiday season.

I’m feeling different this year.  I’m not as stressed as I remember being in the recent past.  Things are going a bit better for me though.  I have a job I love, I’m nearly done with my master’s (which translates to no school for me right now), and I’m finding myself looking forward to things more.  Heck, I’m actually going to go to the work holiday party and I’m not anxious in the slightest.

The kids don’t seem to be in the same place.  I can feel their stress building.  Their tempers are short.  Their tolerance is nearly non existent.  I know we all grieve differently, but some days, I wish we could be on the same page.  I know this time of year is so hard for them.  They miss their dad.  They see all their friends with dads around and they know something is missing in their world.  They feel it very deeply and that pain surfaces in anger many days, intolerance other days, and just plain cranky behavior throughout the season.

Holiday season is stressful for any kid.  The expectations, the anticipation, the busy schedule all lead to overload.  Add to my kids’ days that they miss their dad, their mom is busy nearly all the time, money is still tight and many days, they just don’t know how all this will play out.  I do my best to keep expectations in check, make time for some fun, provide low stress days and to be present to them.  Some days though they are just so cranky!  I become frustrated and am constantly asking myself…is it their grief?  Is it normal holiday, kid behavior? When do they need intervention and when do I need to let them work it out?  There is always that voice in my head…would it be different if Dave hadn’t died?  Would we see the same behaviors?  How can I help in the immediate situation and help them build the skills they need to work out these emotions and situations on their own?

I think the family member struggling the most right now is my little one.  He’s only seven.  He was six months old when Dave died.  He never had a birthday with his dad.  He was only 3 months old that first Christmas when Dave was still here.  He has no memories.  This frustrates him.  He is discovering what families with a dad around look like as he spends time with friends and is exposed to more at school.  He is very angry and it breaks my heart.  How much of this is grief? How much of this is his personality? I don’t know.  I do know that he is struggling nearly every day.  His holiday season isn’t what he hopes for…he wants more, he longs for more and as much as I try, I can’t give him what he wants most…his dad.

So, I do my best to make sure that he has time with other father type guys.  My brothers spend time with him.  He spends time with his friend’s families who have dads around.  I think it hurts him and heals him all at once.  I tell him stories about his dad.  I tell him how much his daddy loved him and wanted to always be here with him. It hurts and heals all at once…I hope.

There is nothing I want more for Christmas than for my kids to just feel normal again.  My holiday wish is that the hole in their hearts can somehow be filled by the people and love around them. I know that their dad loved them.  I know that the hardest thing he ever did was leave them.  I know that they will be ok, but when the holidays come…it seems like ok is far away.

http://widowisland.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/ready-set-go/#respond