Showing posts with label 1. Mondays: Grief Issues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1. Mondays: Grief Issues. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2018

Everyone Wants to Be Happy



Another holiday weekend alone. I know it's hard.
If it weren't difficult, you wouldn't be surfing the net, nor reading this blog.
So maybe, just maybe, there's a point to it. I've learned that God uses the needs we have--perhaps even allows us to have these needs--so that we will get uncomfortable enough that we get willing to move.
Move where?
hmm...
How about the place where those needs will be met?
I don't think I have to spell it out for you.
View the video, visit the website...

This particular article from www.desiringGod.org tells about a 24-year-old widow who, after days of imprisonment, opened her mouth to scream--but out came a song instead.
"That night the police chief came down and said he was taking her home on one condition: "You must come to my house in three days.' Then he said,
'I don’t understand. You are not afraid of anything. My wife and daughters and all the women in my family are afraid of everything. But you are not afraid of anything. . . . I want you to come to my house so you can tell everyone why you are not afraid. And I want you to sing that song.'"
When the pressure is on, happiness extinct, the future hopeless...and you're ready to scream, what will come out of your mouth? What sound do you want to make?

Today could be your turning point for living the rest of your life. Visit the website, particularly the link to the article. Pick one of the fifteen challenges for women---if you do I'd love to hear from you on Labor Day next year. It won't be the same as today.

God's saints have been imprisoned through out the ages. Whether it's a prison with iron bars and chains, or the physical confinements of a broken down body, or a deep pit of despair--God knows, He stands with you, and he holds the ways to turn this to good right in his hand. Genesis 50:20.
💗 ferree

Don't forget: if you receive this by email or on your phone and the video doesn't show, simply click on the title and it will go to my blog site where the links will work.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Tips for Better Sleep


I seldom link to other sites, but sleep is such a common problem for widows and others who grieve, and this website, "Tuck" has the latest and greatest research on sleep. They gave me permission to briefly summarize their 10 tips, but please visit the website for the full article and even more helps. They offer links to a TON of resources. They're all secular and of course I'm not giving them a blanket  endorsement, but it's good to educate yourself and recognize various symptoms you might experience. Once you can identify problems you can ask God for His grace and help to deal with them. 💗ferree   


The evidence is strong that good sleep hastens recovery toward “successful” bereavement...

1. Consider cognitive-behavioral therapy. (CBT) If your symptoms and sleeplessness have persisted for 12 weeks or more, it may be time to get professional help. 
(Sleep problems are very normal during grief but they can become a vicious cycle of worrying about not sleeping and not sleeping because you’re worrying. Don’t hesitate to see your family physician and find some referrals for counsellors and types of therapies. Choose a counsellor or therapist as carefully as you do a physician. Talk to a biblical counsellor; they might be able to help you with sleep problems too). f.h.

2. Follow a regular sleep schedule.  . . . avoid napping for more than 20 or 30 minutes.

3. Spend time with friends and family. Find people who will allow you to share your stories, your grief, and your tears without judgment, but who will also know when to help distract you by doing an activity together. 

4. Avoid self-medicating with alcohol, drugs, or sleeping aids. While they may help you fall asleep initially, many of these substances actually disrupt the quality of your sleep – and they can lead to addiction and permanent changes in your sleep architecture when abused.

5. Keep up a healthy exercise routine. Exercise gets your endorphins going and helps you feel physically better. It provides a distraction from the pain you are going through, and it also helps you sleep. By physically tiring your body, you will fall asleep more easily by bedtime.

6. Eat well.Do your best to eat healthy foods and avoid overly sugary, junky, or fatty foods. The same foods that don’t make you feel great emotionally or physically also disrupt your sleep. . . Also, even though caffeine is fine for some people, limit your intake past the afternoon and overall. It activates your nervous system, keeping you alert and potentially anxious.

7. Develop a calming bedtime routine. Creating a bedtime routine is helpful for anyone who wants to fall asleep faster, but for those in grieving, it gives you something to focus on besides your grief.

8. Try journaling. If you wake up during the night, don’t stress. Disrupted sleep is a common part of grief. If you can’t fall back asleep after 10 minutes or so, get out of bed and go into another room. This part is key – you don’t want your mind to start viewing your bed as a place where you lie awake and frustrated.

9. Avoid electronics at night. (Let me insert a memo here: Get off Facebook! f.h.)  Electronics like our smartphone flood our eyes with strong bluelight. Our brain perceives this as sunlight, and accordingly tries to keep us up and awake.

Beyond the physical reaction, electronics often provide stressors of their own. . . Avoiding electronics in the 60 minutes before you go to bed helps you mentally break away from these distressing reminders, while avoiding confusing your brain about what time of day it is.

10. Reframe your bedroom. It’s possible you have items that remind you of the loss in your bedroom . . . It may be easier for you to cope if you remove reminders of that person from your room – at least temporarily. . . You may take this time to redecorate your room, giving you something to focus on that provides hope. Choose calming, relaxing colors and clear your bedroom of clutter. A calmer bedroom environment makes for a calmer mind, more conducive to sleep.
Counting sheep never works for me... but talking to The Shepherd helps!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Failure, Fire and Fullfillment

The Refiner's Fire
Trials? Tribulations? Testing by fire?

Sound familiar? Widowhood qualifies as all of the above!

Have you ever admitted or even considered that widowhood is a time of trial and testing--that its a season of suffering? I don't know why it took me a long time to see that; maybe the over-used term "denial" applies and I couldn't wrap my head around it. Maybe I thought I was so strong and that my faith was so strong and superior that I would easily rise above it. Mostly though, I was in shock and couldn't believe my husband had died; I sure couldn't sit down with myself and explain to myself that I was actually suffering from a trial of life.

With God, though, our sorrow will one day be wiped away. Right now we're in the flames and pain; and if you're like me they're not only fueled by tragic circumstances-- my own failures threaten to consume me too.

This selection from Psalm 66:10 and 12 brought me through the fire to a future of hope.
You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined ... We went through fire and through water, but You brought us out to rich fulfillment. (NKJV)

Now take a look a the entire Psalm 66 either by yourself or as a Bible study or devotional with your widows group. Make 2 columns on a paper or marker board: 
1). PRAISE and 2). PAIN
  • Look at each phrase or verse and decide in which column it fits. 
  • When you've divided up all the verses ask which column is longer. 
  • What does that tell us about the bigger picture of God's plan and involvement in our lives? 
  • Which verses stand out to you most of all and speak to your experience? 
  • Which one verse provides you with the most hope and promise? 
  • Jot your favorite verse down on a 3x5 card. Keep it in your pocket, tape it to your steering wheel, post it as your status on Facebook or do anything that will serve to remind you of God's faithful fulfillment throughout the day. 
Today is the day when pain can take off it's disguise and praise can start to rise. God understands the emotional roller coaster of grief and the Bible never says that its sinful to have feelings. God is touched by our infirmities. And he touches us in our weakness with the fulfillment of the power and promises of His Word when we take it to heart (or pocket or steering wheel) :) Please try this, I think you'll be greatly encouraged when you do.  ferree

Monday, December 18, 2017

3 Tips for Christmas Plans

Don't you just hate that carol, "It's the most wonderful time of the year . . .?" They ought to synch it with "Killing Me Softly With His Song." Holidays are hard during grief.

But when we think ahead and prepare a little, Christmas won't be as bad as we fear. In fact, it can yield precious moments and priceless memories. Here are three tips that can help you prepare and deal with some of the sadness.

1. Give yourself something to look forward to
  • Take a trip out of town to visit relatives or friends.
  • Take a change from your usual Christmas decorating. Either do something different, leave all your decorations in storage and just put a poinsettia on the table, or skip it entirely. Don't worry about sending Christmas cards unless that's something you love.   
  • I don't think your husband should be excused from getting you a Christmas present. It's just that this year you get to make sure it's what you actually wanted. How about a bicyle, puppy, or learning a new hobby like knitting or music lessons?   
  • Make reservations at a restaurant that serves on the holiday. Or go to a movie to pass the rest of the afternoon or evening. My family is often far away on Christmas Day. The first time I went to a movie on Christmas I was surprised to find the theater was open and other people were there, too!
2. Give yourself an escape plan
  • You're at Aunt Minnie's and feel like you'll suffocate or explode? This will be easier if before you go, talk to Aunt Minnie and say something like, "If I disappear for a few minutes, please don't worry about me. I get these little grief storms and I might slip into the bedroom or take a little walk. I'll be back shortly and I'll be OK." If Aunt Minnie disagrees with you and says you have nothing to cry about, then you'll know maybe you shouldn't even go to her house. But chances are Aunt Minnie will be your bodyguard and valient defender if you let her in on the plan.
  • For other situations, like a restaurant, church, movie theater or shopping, you can just walk out. But you can also slip into the restroom first, and pray about what's best to do. If you then decide to leave that's fine, but at least you've thought about it and you're not just running away. You've given yourself the ability to make a choice and do what's best for you.
3.  Be your own best friend.
  • Take a look at yourself and ask, "What does this girlfriend need right now?" Then remember this: "My God shall supply all your needs . . ." Philippians 4:19, and set out to find what God has supplied.
  • Don't hesitate to call in the troops, ask for help, or invite yourself over to someone's home. Unbelievable as it might sound, people think you've got it all together and that you don't need them.
  • Cash in on all the "If there's anything I can do" offers you've received.
It's wise to see these days coming on the calendar. Try to prepare for them by giving yourself something to look forward to, keep in mind an escape plan, and be your own best friend. Your Heavenly Father has not abandoned you. He loves you and holds you close.

Please add a comment or email your idea for dealing with the holidays to encourage other widows.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Aftermath of Grief and Widowhood

From the Google dictionary:

  af·ter·math
  ˈaftərˌmaTH
    noun  the consequences or aftereffects of a significant unpleasant event.

From "Ferree's dictionary:"

wid·ow·hood
ˈwidōˌho͝od
noun:  a significant unpleasant event!


Does the "significant unpleasant event" of widowhood include aftermaths? Indeed it does! The list of possible aftermaths can be as varied as each person involved, and as unique as each individual. There are financial effects, social hurdles, grief issues, career changes, estate decisions, family relationships, health effects, and immense loneliness to navigate. May I give you a ray of hope though? In time, God can give you the strength and wisdom to work through all of these. 

But there is one aftereffect that I seldom see discussed. Please chime in with your thoughts on this particular aftermath--it might be one you've not considered yet--but unless widows confront it, it will prove an ongoing battle. I'm talking about temptation, specifically the temptation of giving in to bitterness.

temp·ta·tion
tem(p)ˈtāSH(ə)n
noun
1. a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.
2. a thing or course of action that attracts or tempts someone.

bit·ter·ness
ˈbidərnəs

noun
1. sharpness of taste; lack of sweetness.
2. anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly; resentment.

When life changes forever in an instant, there's no going back. We can't pretend it never happened. We grieve because we loved, and we can never forget because we still love them! The person died, but our love for them did not, and it will not. 

The emotions are so strong! The memories so vivid! The longing so painful! 

I know!

I'm often dismissed by widows now and I'm ok with that. I was widowed seventeen years ago and I've been remarried for fifteen years. I totally understand. Had I met someone like me when I was first widowed, I would have dismissed her too. I would have thought the same thing that widows assume about me: "Oh, she's married now. She's fine, she's lucky, blessed, happy and "over it!" 

But the only difference between my first year of widowhood and today is that I've learned how to deal with this one aftermath: the temptation of bitterness.

Please visit again in the days ahead for five points I still return to when the aftermath of bitterness tempts me to wallow in it. If this topic is personal for you too, don't hesitate to comment or email. I won't be able to answer any emails individually, but I will be happy to address them in this blog if I can. 

ferree
used with permission by Steve Hastings

Monday, September 18, 2017

Autumn's Arrival Affects Our Feelings

Let's take a look at the calendar for September and October. Does it hold significant days for you? Perhaps a wedding anniversary or loved one's birthday? What about your own birthday? Will you make your cake this year?

Or how about the change of season?

Almost subconsciously, that change affects our feelings. Fragrant smells like burning leaves, pumpkins, tomatoes or apple cider recall dim pictures to our mind and poignant yearnings to our heart. Autumn especially speaks to me. Perhaps its because I'm in that season of my own life. These thoughts tumbled through my mind while I was down on my knees working the soil in Ohio one year, a string of strong metaphors as summer passes away...


AUTUMN GARDEN
by Ferree Hardy

Dry, brittle leaves crumble in my fingers
Like pages from a diary
a hundred years ago
smelling of spent sunshine

Others fold golden curls
Over slugs and molds
And work decay through winter
Unseen, unheard, unhindered

Yellow jackets buzz
Summoned by sticky sap
Unaware of days to come
Their wings brush my skin


All these days of autumn will "fall" upon us, be aware so they don't catch you by surprise. If you want to treat them like just another day, that's a valid option. If you want to open your senses and your heart to hold them close, then do something special, give them honor. The thing is-- you have a choice. Exercising that choice is a step towards life.

This September as you begin to see your garden fade, be mindful of the harvest too. Take hope and remember that God truly does work things together for our good ... even you. If you've already believed in Christ as your Savior from sin, begin to spend time in the Bible and learn to know Him as your Savior of the harvest: each memory, each breath, each tear... they all matter.
ferree

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Living Experiences from Living Examples

The eclipse is today, and here in South Carolina all the hotels are jammed and we're all watching the weather reports and hoping the clouds won't get in the way. I'll be working hard at my school library to have it ready for classroom visits next week, but I hope to peek out the doors this afternoon. No, I won't look at the sun, but I remember when I was young and there was an eclipse the landscape got full of shadows and dusk. It was eerie. I wonder if it'll be like that again.
https://goo.gl/images/BS7AUo

Full of shadows and dusk---kind of like widowhood, isn't it? When our life is eclipsed by grief. Everything changes. But the sun doesn't go down, and neither do we. We're held by God. . . Today I have some special shares from Facebook widow friends that I know you will relate to and find hope in, even if the sun doesn't shine.
ferree

from Donna T.
I normally don't post anything that has to do with how I deal with being a widow. Felt like I needed to share this. A very special friend tells me life is an adventure to get out there and live it. Today I lived an adventure I thought one day I would like to do. I went to Elephant Rock State Park. I had gone by this right after my husband died and thought some day I would like to come back and see this place. That was 5 years ago. Today was the day that that adventure happened. This place was amazing!!!! Rock formations that are beyond anything I'd ever seen. Today I walked 2.5 miles around this park and climbing around and on these rocks like a kid. All my stresses and worries were left at the gate ( well except for getting "lost"). I got to see Gods beauty in a way I've never experienced it. Told my friend Linda Rich that today after climbing to the top of one of the highest formations that I felt like I was living the UP movie. Life really is an adventure and unless we get out there and make it happen we will miss out on so much that God has for us out there to experience and to share. For those interested google ELEPHANT ROCK STATE PARK it's in Bellview, Missouri. Thanks Linda R. for living the example and my prayer is that I can continue to do the same. (from Donna T.)   Click here to view some photos of this amazing place: Elephant Rocks State Park

from Lynda J.
Have you had your first wedding experience as a widow? Your first 'singles' table experience?

On the weekend, my friend married a man who'd been widowed 6 years. It was joyful and hope-filled... but the weeks leading up the event were tear filled. Choosing what to wear, while walking in alone, caused me so much anxiety. But God.... 


I'm not a shopper, but found a dress that was modest and I felt good in and on sale 70% off (Canadian dollars 😬😃)! 

I ended up being asked to sit at the Guestbook table with another woman on her own, and at the singles table I discovered another woman who was widowed in a similar way to me (sudden and unexpected).

After all those tears, I'm so thankful I went and experienced the joy. I think the tears were necessary in getting me there. More grieving, mourning in order to keep baby stepping forward. 


from Sharon V.
Have you noticed how the experiences of our lives change who we are as people-especially the difficult experiences? They can make us bitter or draw us closer to God. They can make us wrap ourselves in our own troubles or make us more sensitive to others.
I have noticed also the idea of closure to past grief and trials is really a false concept. I had the illusion when Wayne died that if I faced grief head-on, it would someday completely disappear. That is not how it works. One learns to adapt to the grief and it softens, but it is forever a part of one's life. It forever changes how one views life and eternity.
Yet this is a good thing. I think God wants to leave somewhat of an ache in our hearts, so we realize our need for Him and our dependence on Him. I think He does this to make us more sensitive to others. We would be less effective in His kingdom and less in love with Him, if He removed all the pain. God knows what He is doing.

from Missy F. 
😔tough couple of days.
It has been 4-1/2 years and at first going into the church office where Don would be sitting at his desk reading his Bible in preparation for the morning sermon was tough but the last year and a half has been pretty ok fine.
This morning I walked in as I did every Sunday morning to grab the sound room key and like a sneaker sneeze that rocks your body and blows your vanilla latte across the room, grief rocked me to the core 😢

https://goo.gl/images/h3pNFJ

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Is There Really A Reason for Widowhood?

(Reposted from 2015, but well-worth a second reading. Also the video is fantastic! If you subscribe to this blog and can't access it in the email, try looking it up on your computer instead of by cell phone. Read the comments too, and chime in. I love to hear from you!)
ferree

Why did tragedy strike? What's the reason for suffering? What's God up to in this situation? These classic questions blurt out from each of us going through trials.

One time in a church group discusson about pain and suffering, someone asked me point blank about why my first husband died.... They wanted to know if his death brought other people to come to the Lord and be saved and born again....? What was the reason and justification?, they asked, because obviously, in their mind, there had to be a reason?

Here's what I told them: "There's no reason my husband had to die so others would turn to Christ. God could have worked some other way for them to get saved rather than having my kids grow up without their dad."

Yea, life is brutal! But what I said was true---God has an infinite number of ways to draw a person to Himself. The God of the Bible is Almighty and Holy, Faithful and Good! He does not kill off one person so another can be saved, that's ridiculous. God will use these awful things for good, but this person's question revealed a warped view of God.

Another time my husband, Tom, and I were in a Bible study where the leader arrogantly had it all figured out. He knew God's plan. There was a reason for everything, he told us. We needed stronger faith. We should pray more, work harder, give more, repent of the personal sin that was obviously causing our suffering.

Tom and I remained silent. Tom was widowed the same year I was and we met and married two years later. There wasn't time to begin to question or correct this guy. But we talked about it afterwards. Is there really a reason?

Yes, Tom wisely said. The reason we suffer is this: we live in a fallen, imperfect world. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers ... (Romans 8:22a NASB) The whole creation! That includes all of humanity. Me. And you. I know you've groaned and suffered...

The other day a friend called me from her home near the West Coast. We are like dopplegangers ---like we're living the same life, but on opposite coasts. We talked, and laughed and cried together about all our matching aches and pains. We're just a mess! We groan and suffer for no reason at all except one: we need a Savior! We need Him every day, in every way. He alone can save us from our sin, ourselves, our circumstances. We pictured our lives as helpless lumps of clay, dirt, and pain at the foot of The Cross. We live in a fallen world and we need Him!

That reason calmed me; it eased the fretting and the nagging questions. How about you? Do you look for reasons that could justify your suffering? Anything that can serve as payback for what you've been through?  A million dollar settlement? A new husband? Happiness? A new purpose for you? Knowing that he was a hero, perhaps? Knowing he's in a better place?

Those things can provide fleeting comfort, but not a satisfying reason.

Bottom line-- the reason for suffering?---We need Him. The self-help gurus, the fairy-tale endings, the follow-your-heart philosophies? They are side tracks and dead ends on this journey. Join me on the path to The Cross where we can all collapse and admit it---We need Him.

The amazing thing is that God doesn't leave us grovelling in our need. He doesn't merely observe and take notes from a distance. He responds, He loves, He rushes in...
Matthew 11:28
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Come to the Lord today...He loves you so much!


Dear God,
I come to you today because I realize that ...
I
need
You.
I can't carry this burden any longer. The emotional roller coaster of shock, anger, despair and this fallen world is too much. Forgive me, Lord, I need Your forgiveness because I fall short of handling this. I need You! I surrender my ways to You. I give them up, I repent. You love me! Forever!
You sent Jesus to bear me and my sins on that cross--yes, I believe! I come to You, please come to me. Show me how to rest in You and find peace as I follow and love You. Thank you for saving me, for loving me, Lord.
Amen

Monday, August 7, 2017

Anxiety Vs. Relief

Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”

This verse reminds me of two very different loads I can choose to carry every day---anxiety or relief.  I'll bet you face that choice too. When I wake up in the morning I must decide: anxious words or kind words. Which will I listen to today? Which will I allow to stew in my heart?

You’d think the choice would be easy! Take the kind words and be cheered up! But that's not a popular option, many people would say it's not realistic either.

The anxious words were so familiar when I was widowed. I was used to them. Some people would say I had a right to them. Here they are:
  • It’s not fair . . .
  • If only . . .
  • What if . . .
One day even my wedding ring was sending me anxious and discouraging words. I know that sounds a little crazy! But I didn't hear voices or hallucinate. I loved my ring and never intended to take it off. But that day, it seemed like every time I looked at that ring, instead of stirring memories of the good marriage I had enjoyed, it would say, “You’re not married any more.” Of course that was true, but looking at my ring had become negative and painful, and no longer a sweet reminder.

I had recently been given my grandmother’s diamond ring. So when the wedding ring started sassing me, I took it off and put Grandma's on in it’s place. The new ring sparkled and seemed to say “good things can still happen.”

In the same way, even years later today, I can take off the anxious words and choose kind words. Well, kind of in the same way, but this is a bit harder than simply replacing a ring (and some days I know even that's too hard). Stay with me though...

Instead of “It's not fair...” we can pick up on Eph. 1:3 which isn't very fair either, but is a much better deal. It says that God has “. . . blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ...” I sure don't deserve blessings like that, yet God is gracious and generous.

Instead of “If only...” we can replace it with “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made... all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139:14-16.

Instead of “What if...” we can fill in the blank withwhat ever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

In fact, read all of Phillipians 4:4-9 today. It’s a pile of kind words. If you pick up this load of Scripture today, instead of you carrying it around, it’ll carry you! It's not always easy to replace our thoughts with Scripture. Sometimes it's spiritual warfare and a struggle, but God really can give us victory in this, I'm living proof (most of the time--I'll be the first to tell you I know the struggle, and I'm not perfect. Ever.).But if I can pray for you about this please let me know by emailing me at [email protected]. We're not meant to struggle alone but rather to bear one another's burdens and I'm more than willing to listen and pray for you.

One of the most amazing things about being a Christian widow is that we can experience new life and true freedom in Christ. He lives within us. We experience grief, and grieve deeply (!),  but we do not have to be enslaved to grief and ruled by emotions alone. God has a much better way. We are not alone or abandoned, He is with us and He loves you deeply. Your life is not a waste and good things can still happen. There's new life in heaven for your husband, but there's also new life here for you. It starts with making a choice between anxious thoughts or kind words today. Don't worry about what you'll do about that choice tomorrow, today is the day for a victory.

ferree

Monday, June 12, 2017

Father's Day Focus


When Father’s Day rolls around every June it’s a secret struggle for most widows and for me too. For years I’ve tried to avoid thinking about it too much. My own father, my two fathers-in-law, my husband (I’m remarried), and my son who’s now a father will all receive their due. I love them all dearly and rejoice they are in my life! But there’s one person whose absence is always on the landscape of my heart. I don’t grieve anymore, but I still miss my first husband, the father of my children. My husband, Tom, understands. He was widowed too, and Mother’s Day holds the same for him.

Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are two holidays that put a painful divide between the “haves” and the “have nots.” Those who don’t have parents, or spouses, or the opportunity to be mothers and fathers buckle up and endure the day. The “haves” gather together, telephone, or send cards and gifts to their loved ones, and well they should. Life is precious and love expresses itself through these holidays. But for those who have lost loved ones it’s complicated. If you’re one of the “haves” and one of the “have nots” at the same time the turmoil isn’t easy to describe, explain, express or resolve.

Father’s Day is hard enough for adults; how hard must it be for the children? I recently heard that many people who don’t believe in God happen to have a painful experience like the death of someone they loved in their past. My own children bear that out and my heart has broken innumerable times for them.

When I was widowed I had no guidance about my children and no widows my age to compare notes with. I didn’t know what my widow friend Myra wisely told me years later, “In saving your kids, you save yourself.” Her husband died of a massive heart attack on Christmas Eve when their two daughters were ages five and seven. Now, almost 20 years later, a close-knit family with added sons-in-law and good memories has emerged.

If you’re more like me than Myra, though, if you’ve had some parenting failures because of grief and the pressures of widowhood, remember it’s never too late to start doing right. Let’s use Father’s Day as a time to start over. Although it's a day that can really sting, ignoring it doesn’t do any good. It'll come again next year. What our children need more than two parents is one parent who loves them enough to raise them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They don’t need a parent who holds back, passive, indecisive, or lets nature take its course. Consider parenting as a full time commitment to seeing that Christ is formed in our offspring.  The apostle Paul shows us how to do this in I Thessalonians 2:7 – 12. He described himself as gentle as a mother caring for young children and as encouraging as a father. He had a goal that his “children” would learn to live “worthy of God.” I never thought to have a goal for my children when I was widowed. Have you?

Even if your children are now adults, remember it’s not too late. Everyone needs someone watching out for them, someone who’s on their side, and has tangible and worthy goals for them. We all need to be treated gently and encouraged no matter what our age.

Looking back, I wish I had made an annual event of Father's Day. Instead of ignoring it, I could have done something with my kids. It’s a natural opportunity to get the children to talk about how they’re doing and to learn more about their father and their heritage. Acknowledging the day with a prayer will help. A small gift or a treat like their father’s favorite dessert might be good. Share some memories and funny stories. A visit with other family members or an activity that will take up the whole day, create some fresh, fun memories, and wear everyone out enough for a good night's sleep is also a good option.

Don’t try to be blind to the day or avoid talking about the person. Don’t try to compensate and make up for their absence with money or extravagant, unusual privileges. Don’t be so absorbed in your own pity that you’re unaware of how your children are feeling. Don’t think that a new husband will solve all your problems, only God can do that. Instead, make Father’s Day a time to bless your family with what would have pleased their father. 

Watch out for signs that your children are struggling. They should cry but it probably won’t be as often as you do. Younger ones might cry one minute and run out to play the next; I’ve been told that’s normal. Later on as they age they will need to talk and think about their father. Hospice or children’s services in your area might offer a “Grief Camp” day camp for children. Find out about it and consider using it. They will meet other kids whose parent has died and they’ll do helpful activities on a child’s level. It’s good for widows to know they’re not alone, and it’s good for children to meet other children and realize they’re not the only ones either.

Older children and teens who refuse to talk or cry should meet with a wise, godly person or a professional counselor regularly. I recommend about six weeks at first, and then for a few follow-up visits every year for the next few years. Interview the counsellor before you send your child and make sure you agree with their methods. Family or group counselling might be an excellent option too.

If your child or teen’s behavior changes for the worse, if their school work slips, if they seem depressed, or if they take on an angry, rebellious, or hateful attitude (even a few years after the death) you will also need to find counsel. If they won’t cooperate, then you should seek help for yourself in how to handle them. This can be a frightening journey so make sure you are also seeking God’s help first and He will lead you to the right people.

Cling to these truths: 1. Nothing is impossible with God, not even raising children alone. 2. In Christ we do not have to grieve as the world does; we have true hope, grief doesn’t have to last forever. 3. We will change even if we try not to, so let’s follow God and make it a change for the better.

Let’s make Father’s Day the day we get back to mothering.*
ferree
P.S. I'll be away from the Internet and won't be able to post anymore for the next few weeks. Please be sure to subscribe to this blog so it comes straight to your inbox and you never miss a post, OK? Also, please visit the friends in my blog roll and see what God is doing in their lives on this journey called widowhood.
* also printed in Just Plain Values magazine, June, 2017. Copyright 2017 Ferree Hardy.

Monday, June 5, 2017

3 Things Remain for Widows

The prayers and Scripture selections today were written by one of the godliest widows I've ever met. It's only been a little more than a year ago when her husband died, but she has been a fountain of encouragement and love to the widows in her group ever since. 
She sent the following prayers and Scriptures to me so I could share them with you. But in the mean time she received a very disturbing diagnosis herself. It's my hope today that her words will bring you comfort and that they'll go back and do the same for her... Please pray for this widow today (her name is Marcia). I'll pray for her too, and for you.   
ferree
And three things remain, faith, hope, and love,
The greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

God, you are faithful, you give me hope, and you have loved me with an everlasting love. Please help me trust in your love and faithfulness in this season of my life. Forgive me for doubting you and making an idol of my fears and anxiety.

Help me to live in a way that demonstrates that I trust your goodness and sovereignty. In my brokenness let it still be evident that I am depending on you to guide me and carry be forward.

Since the beginning of time the hiss of the serpent has whispered the lies that you do not care and that you are not a good God. Help me to dismiss the hiss and trust in you alone. Amen

Faith:
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. Deuteronomy 7:9

God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. Psalm 105:4-5

But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3

Hope:
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:5

…the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. Titus 1;2

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. Psalm 33:20-21

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Love:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight. Psalm 119:76-77

The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

Abba Father, you are faithful and you have promised you will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:9). You demonstrated your love when you sent Jesus to Calvary so we might have eternal life. (John 3:16). We have this hope in you and nothing we experience in this life will diminish our hope and trust in what you have promised. (1Peter 1:3-4) Amen

Monday, May 29, 2017

10 Reasons Why Crying Is OK

Holidays like today can trigger grief because it might seem like the rest of the world has forgotten us or our loved one. We might not have any plans while they do, and doggone it---we just miss our husband!

If a cry catches in your throat, or tears well up unexpectedly, that's OK, it means you're perfectly normal. Let them flow. God designed the body to release its stress and toxins through the valuable mechanism of crying.

Let's look up some special verses from God's Word about crying. You can find many more, but these are a good introduction. Copy and print them so you can hold them in your hand and let them sink into your heart by thanking the Lord for understanding and loving you.

10 Truths About Crying
Psalm 30:5
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 34:15
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 40:1
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.

Psalm 126:5
Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.

Ecclesiastes 3:4
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.

Isaiah 53:3a
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

II Corinthians 4:17
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,

Revelation 21:4
and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

These are just a few from the NASB, with my italics added. What are some of your favorite Bible verses? Feel free to comment or share some other references, too, and take today one step at a time.  ♥ ferree

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spring Planting

Plowed fields and freshly planted gardens remind me that in the midst of sorrow life goes on. All those seeds buried underground picture how overwhelmed, buried, and in the dark I felt as a widow. Now what would I do? How was I to carry on? What was next? 

Grief is different for each individual, and widowhood is a particular challenge. There's no formula or prescription cure-all, but as I’ve talked and listened to widows over the years I know there comes a point in time when they need to see some steps to take to grow out of that darkness. It’s like a
planting season. Here are five “seeds,” so to speak, that I encourage them to plant. These “seeds” will bring a harvest of better days ahead and glean hope and wisdom in the here and now.

 Read
Read one or two good resources about grief to understand the process and avoid pitfalls. Beware of misinformation! There’s a lot of it, so don’t believe everything. Just learn enough to know that this sad time does not have to last forever. My favorite book on the basics of grief is still the one I was given a few days after my husband died—Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace by James R. White. It’s short and concise, compassionate and biblical.
Talk or write
Talk about your husband, your life together, his death, and your feelings. If you have children at home it’s good to get them to talk too. Among adults, most will kindly wait for you to speak first. Others will not ever be comfortable talking about death! But speaking up will help you find friends who understand and they’re the ones you need. If you can’t find someone to talk to, write down what you'd like to say in a notebook or diary. This is helpful because when you hear yourself tell what happened, even though it’s hard to talk or write about, you begin to get over the shock.
Find role models.  
You can get to know other widows in person or through reading about them. Don’t limit yourself to just one or two. Get to know many widows. Positive widows light a spark in you to keep pressing on, even if it’s a hard day. They help you learn that you don't have to like this experience, but you can still be thankful. You can be honest about your heartaches, but you can still hope. Good role models help you see examples of good choices. 
Start to rebuild your life. 
Most people do not understand the huge adjustments a widow has forced upon her and the rebuilding that must take place. Many widows have not only lost their husband, they've lost their identity and structure to their day. Little things have fractured, like no longer having another person to share in supper or chores. Adding to that are the far more complicated threats of losing finances, home, health, and family relationships. But slowly and surely the widow can arise from this rubble one brick at a time. The “to do” list will always be longer than the “did and done,” but accomplishing one thing, one step at a time, is excellent progress. Simply start wherever you’re at and do the next thing in front of you, breaking it down to smaller duties.

Relax and rest in the Lord. 
I know this is easier said than done. I too have felt the heavy load, the burden of a broken heart, the fatigue, sleeplessness, constant adrenal drain, and utter exhaustion. I desperately wanted my garden to be done! I wanted my questions to cease! Now what would I do? How could I go on? What was next? But the secret I learned was this: to relax; to let grief and widowhood run their course, but not rule my life. Desperation didn’t accomplish anything. I had seeds to plant, but I also had to rest—to wait for and look to God for the growth.

Start planting these seeds today, dear widow, even just one or two. Water them with your tears, and just like the fields and gardens in the earth around us, in the proper time the sun will shine, life will sprout and God will grant a good harvest. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Psalm 126:5  
ferree

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Cry of The Lonely Heart

Dear Reader,

The following words are from a widow about a really dark time that many have gone through. The details are different from widow to widow. . . ages of the kids, the length of the marriage, cause and suddenness of death . . . But the outlook is the same for many widows --- a vast and lonely future. The pain seems unbearable.

As you read the following, think about how you relate and how she can carry on. What helped you? Please leave a comment to tell what pulled you through.

In the last year I turned 37, and my husband of seventeen years was killed by a large object flying off a tandem truck. He had just turned 39. We had four children who are still in school. I homeschooled them and was a stay-at-home mother since our first child was born.
I found people in the very beginning! But now no one visits or calls. I am alone so much that I cannot bear it. I am seeking the Lord through it. But I long for love with skin on.
My prayer is that God brings a husband. In my age group other people do not have time for others. They are more interested in their own lives.
It is very hard.


I remember well the same sort of struggle! The loneliness was like someone had beat up my soul--I felt so bruised and sore. Psalm 34:18 described my condition,
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
I was brokenhearted and crushed like the psalm described.
But it also described true hope---The LORD is close--and He saves. Although I didn't "feel" like God was close I kept blindly crying out to Him over and over.

Would you believe that my need and loneliness were what God used to steer me to meet people who would build me up and fill me up with God's truth? I replied to this dear widow the following:

In my opinion it's fine to ask God for a husband, but realize that a husband may not be the best solution. Watch for other ways God may come to your rescue. Perhaps God will use your loneliness to connect you to a new set of Christian friends through attending a grief support group, finding a Christian counsellor, or reaching out to help other single moms who are also trying to honor God by homeschooling.
God loves you and has a divine purpose for you. He will enable you to carry on and raise your children well. It's really hard to make all the decisions by yourself so just take one day at a time. Present each moment to God, and--as the experienced widow and Bible teacher, Elisabeth Elliott used to say, "Just do the next thing."

However, there is wisdom in many counsellors and I know that many of you can offer insight and direction for this situation too. Please comment today. Share your experience and how to seek God in similar circumstances. Your words are part of the process of grief that God uses to restore and renew us.
ferree

Monday, March 13, 2017

Making A Change Can Help

When it first happened, life blurred like hitting fast-forward on an old video tape. Get up, brush teeth, make coffee, fumble around, lay down, it's night. Doesn't mean sleep. Insert crying at every pause. Rewind. Repeat. Insert funeral. Hello, good-bye, kiss kiss. Insert memorial service. Rewind. Repeat.

The phone rang incessantly, a wagon train of food--sandwiches, chicken, lasagne, roast beef, casseroles, tossed salad, pasta salad, potato salad, casseroles, brownies, cookies, pies, casseroles, donuts, cakes, breads, and more casseroles rolled in through the front door.

The family descended from the four corners of the earth, I think they took over a hotel. I don't remember exactly. My living room was stuffed with them before the funeral, bodies pressed in, and I liked that. I felt like I was a patient in an emergency room, eyes open but paralyzed--poked, prodded, loved on. "She'll live," I heard them tell my broken heart through tears of their own.

And then it was over. Everyone had to go home. It was me, Brad and Lisa.

We picked over the leftover food until it finally had to be thrown out. Eating wasn't very interesting. When the kids got hungry I handed them a few dollars. Lisa could drive to Wendys or McDonalds. She didn't mind.

But one day I made supper. Put the plates on the table. We sat down.

We weren't prepared for that empty chair. It sat there cold and hard. We suddenly lost our appetites after a forkful or two, cleared the table and went off to other things. No amount of beautiful table settings, gracious dinner music or gourmet cooking ever warmed it up. I tried to imagine God as our unseen guest, but my imagination wasn't that good.

Man, that was hard! That simple, stupid empty chair. An inanimate object I couldn't avoid or get around.

Did you have obstacles like that in your journey through grief? Maybe for you it was a family picture, coming home to an empty house, trying to sleep in an empty bed, visiting your husband's family or even going to church?

Lets talk about it. How did you deal with these painful reminders in your life? If you got over them, how you do it? Your comments will be life-giving encouragement to us all.

For me, that empty chair had to be filled with guests. That was hard to do, especially with the crazy schedules people keep--families seldom eat together anyway. But I enjoyed having dinner guests and I learned that God commanded us to practice hospitality as much for our own sake as for another's. If we didn't have guests, I relaxed the standard of us all having dinner together. I went more casual and we ate at the smaller table in the kitchen or took our plates in front of the tv. Instead of butting my head and heart against the immovable chair, I opted for change.

Hang on to this roller coaster ride through grief, my sister! With God, good things can still happen, and opting for change can help.
ferree

Monday, December 26, 2016

A New Year Alone?

Even though all the Christmas packages have been unwrapped, maybe the tree is already gone, there's still one big package to open. For most widows I suspect its like the proverbial elephant in the living room; we're trying to ignore it and that's really awkward....
We wish it would go away but it won't; it's too big to handle ourselves and nobody wants to talk about it. The elephant--this mysterious, unopened package--is a brand new year.

Maybe you're not done with the old year, you say? Maybe it's too soon, the grief too fresh, the shock still a constant companion? Ahh, then here's what to do: lean into the new year, looking forward to it as a time of rest and recovery. Learn about the grief journey, collect and preserve your memories, find mentors or role models, and spot and follow your Shepherd through the valley of Psalm 23.

Or, perhaps you are SO DONE with the old year? Are you suspended in limbo, waiting for your so-called life to happen again? Do you wonder if there's any meaning, any purpose, any reason why you're still here? Do you worry that twelve months from now life will be exactly the same as it is today? Then I invite you to gather your courage and step into the new year. Like before, spot and follow your Shepherd. Continue to work through your grief, but begin to awaken to God's promises, many of which are summed up in Jeremiah 29:11.

As I constantly scour the Internet for resources for widows, I'm continually convinced and impassioned for the need for Widows Christian Place. Widows gasp for hope, and this is one of the few places to find it. Constant venting and groveling in grief merely perpetuates and ingrains the grief. While grief is acknowledged here, I believe it's also important to address the whole of life because the rest of the world will not stop when life explodes and a woman is widowed. The widow is pretty much left to herself to pick up the pieces. My hope is that WCP will help widows do just that--pick up the pieces, adapt to the new normal, discover hidden strengths and talents that God formed deep within before they were born, and with God at their side, step into the adventure of this new phase of life.

Let's unwrap the new year together. Even if it is an elephant, with God we can handle it. With God we are not alone.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Are you ready? You can do this! Lean on me, and we'll step in together.
ferree

Monday, December 5, 2016

From My Inbox to Yours.... Widows Connect


Dear Reader,
I'm excited to share with you a note from a newer widow who recently found Widows Christian Place and my feature about Gayle Roper's book, "A Widow's Journey."
I was so pleased that she wrote to me and is also allowing me to share it with you. That's the intent of this blog--a place where widows can know they are not alone. It's not about me--I'm just here to serve you like an oasis in the wilderness. Your comments and interactions are the most important thing.

So let me step aside right now and we can all see what Karen wrote to me the other day:

I wanted to give my comments about Gayle’s book – “A Widow’s Journey”.  I bought my copy thru Amazon, a while back, and this is the best book I have read on widowhood thus far.
 
I lost my beloved husband Michael, suddenly and unexpectedly on July 18, 2016.  I am totally devastated, like all of you have felt, being plunged into this terrible and sorrowful, unwanted journey.  My husband and I were together 34 years, and would have been married 30 years on New Year’s Day 2017... 
I savored every page of Gayle’s book.  It was like she was writing this for me.  It was a book I wished I could go on reading forever, day after lonely day. I now walk where she walked, as she was missing and grieving for her beloved husband.  Every emotion and grief stricken experience she wrote about – I felt in my own heart.                                    

And when I came sadly to the end of that marvelous book, I saw that photo of Gayle and her beloved Chuck.  That picture conveyed the essence of her book, and what she lost when she lost him.  I could see the tremendous love they had for each other. You could see that Chuck must have said something outrageously funny to Gayle, and she was just about doubled over in laughter – with that humor reaching her in the way only Chuck could have said to her.  How well I could relate to that picture of them, in my own relationship with my husband!  He'd have me laughing so hard, I'd have tears rolling down my face, and he'd be so pleased with himself that he made me laugh. That silly, crooked smile of his, and that mischievous twinkle in his eyes.  My laughter would make him start laughing till we were gasping for breath and in tears.  Just the way Chuck looked because Gayle was laughing so hard.  Only your soul mate could touch you like that. 

Gayle was so exquisitely happy in that photo – you could just feel her joy in being in her husband’s arms.   I found myself grieving for Gayle, because I knew what she had lost.  Exactly what I had lost, each of us, in our own separate way – with our own so very much loved husbands. 

Gayle – I loved your book, and your message to us widows individually, at the end.  I hope that maybe some glorious day – we can all meet up in Heaven with our own husbands, and share a laugh or a thousand!  Chuck and Mike will probably be thinking up new and delightful ways to make us laugh again, after all these tears.  No more tears in Heaven, and no more ever being without our beloved husbands again...
Love in Jesus,
Karen  
 
I hope Karen's note touched your heart like it touched mine. Would you like to see the picture of Gayle and Chuck that she mentioned? I can't post it here without permission, but you may go to Amazon and LOOK INSIDE A Widow's Journey. Look at the last pages of the book and you can't miss it. While you're there you might like to look at Gayle's other books too. She's an award-winning author, and her books are perfect companions to fill a widow's times when the house is just too quiet or she's eating alone in a restaurant, travelling, etc.
Ferree and Gayle at
Montrose Christian Writers
Conference, July 2016
 
And why wait 'til Heaven to meet Gayle? She hosts a wonderful widows retreat every spring. I'll give you the information about that tomorrow. It would be great fun and the beginning of great friendships if a group of us here a the WCP could attend together!
Until tomorrow,
ferree
 
 

 

Monday, November 21, 2016

On Line Dating: WARNING! bRoKeN Hearts and Busted Wallets Ahead!


I had the privilege of meeting Terrie several years ago, and she was kind enough to contact me about the important things she has learned regarding safety and caution when dating. Although I met my husband Tom online, it was many years ago, and there were so many people at our wedding who knew each other it was obvious that the Lord would have had us meet even outside of the Internet. There were online stalking and identity theft problems back then, but there are even more today.I do not recommend online dating sites, especially not the free ones. Terrie's post is a must read.
 ferree

On Line Dating: WARNING!
bRoKeN Hearts and Busted Wallets Ahead!
by Terrie Krumal

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  brains don’t quite connect, analyze or warn us when there is eminent 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 BBB regarding door to door sales).   If we are not analyzing all information the scammer/con men have shared with us, we become easy prey.

Let me pause here for just a moment and explain that I thought I would be writing these words to caution women regarding online dating, but after talking to several people, this information needs to apply to ALL 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. But that's not necessarily the case. They are maybe a little safer than online meetings, but those areas noted above still have con artists and 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 steel our resolves on how we  connect with them and what we share with them.

Several celebrities such as Dr. Phil have previously 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 dating 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 or talk to others who have had a good online experience, 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 sense something inside us warning us to run the other way!! 

So with all that in mind (and 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 their tricks.  I felt I could sort the good from the bad and the ugly!!

Boy was I wrong!  

So 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.

How do these people break down our barriers and succeed in taking advantage of us?

They shower you with loving words, they desire to meet you soon and they aspire 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 its very easy to fall for their approach).  They build up the relationship and your trust in them.  Then they ask for money. Oh, not for themselves (of course!), but for a “sick child,” or gifts for orphans (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, the transfer of stolen goods, 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.

Protect Yourself

The Federal Trade Commission has a wonderful website (www.ftc.gov) with information regarding the scams, what to do if you have become a victim, and many more 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 and the scammer is free to prey upon another widow.

The very first piece of advice is NEVER EVER go offsite.  Once they convince you to go off the dating website, the scam starts.  If you remain on the website, most companies track certain “buzz words” and 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 details up when someone was asking too much information—another warning sign).

In conclusion, put your life in Gods 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 trite, but being in your same situation 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.