Showing posts with label 3. Wednesdays: Stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3. Wednesdays: Stories. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A Widow's Story--Lucy

I have another butterfly story for you, but my friend Lucy in Chicago area just passed a milestone yesterday. Here is a glimpse of her testimony as she's followed Jesus through some tough times. Thank you for sharing Lucy. ❤ferree

Image may contain: Lucy Reyes Rodriguez, smiling, standing and indoorTen years ago today (Oct. 9) I was diagnosed with a rare cancer. I passed the 5 year marker for remission. God gave me life again when all looked hopeless. I live with a disability, which made it difficult to be a teacher or a paraprofessional in a normal school setting.
But now I volunteer and co-lead a 3-day-a-week after-school program ministry through my church for CPS kids, grades 2-4.
I also volunteer at the food pantry. I lead a women's grief support class and I work with volunteers to support my pastor. When God says He is not done with me, He helps me to do His work. I thank God for all He has allowed me to do.
Losing my husband and mom and my health are tragic for me, but joy has come back to me. Like I told a friend yesterday, severe illnesses do not make us throwaway people. That's when God can do great things through us.

Image may contain: Lucy Reyes Rodriguez, smiling, sitting, shoes and outdoor
Lucy's first mission trip-- to Puerto Rico this past July. 


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Restless No More -- A Widow's Story -- Joan Wyrtzen Bagg


Do you attend or lead a widows group? Here are life-lifting verses from a Bible study that my friend Joan Wyrtzen Bagg recently shared with a group. Feel free to use them with your group too! Joan was first widowed at age 47.
When my first husband, Loren Steiner, passed away from cancer I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't understand why the Lord took him home at age 50. One night all alone I asked the Lord why this had happened and what did He want me to do now?
Joan was first widowed at age 47. She was then remarried for 10 years and widowed again. Then, after about 12 years the Lord once again had remarriage for her. This time she and her husband Doug Bagg have been instrumental in founding Grief Care Fellowship to train church members how to help widows and others who journey through grief.
(Click the Grief Care logo here on my blog for more info).  
Read more of her account by clicking here. If you are feeling a sense of restlessness in your life, be sure to read part 2 of her story right here. Maybe the Lord is changing the course of your life too.

You may copy these verses for personal or group use. Please note that they are from the New International Version (NIV), except for the words in italics which Joan used for her group.

God is My Husband 

 (Isaiah 54:5)  “For your Maker is your Husband-the Lord Almighty is His name.”

 He gives me Everlasting Love

 (Jeremiah 31:3)  “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

I have His Word for comfort

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4)  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in our troubles (sorrow), so that we can comfort those in any trouble (sorrow) with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. “

His is my security

(Isaiah 41:13) “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you; Do not fear; I will help you.”

I do not need to worry

(Matthew 7:25-34) “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; about your body, what you will wear….your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.” 
(Phil 4:19)  “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

When I am lonely He gives me… A song in the night
(Ps 77:6) “I remembered my songs in the night.”
(Jeremiah 31:13) “Turning my mourning into Joy. “

When I am sad I remember…..
(Psalm 118:24) “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” 
(Philippians 4: 4) “Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say “Rejoice!”

God’s will for me   
(Thessalonians 5:16, 17, 18)“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

One Widow's Story: Widowhood Is Not A Mere Problem to Solve

My Facebook friend Lynda recently shared a discovery God put in her path as she was contemplating the many anniversaries and challenges ahead of her this month. Please read on to find out what she discovered. This wasn't "just a coincidence," so I am posting it today for your benefit too. Thank you Lynda for sharing what the Lord is doing in your life! ♥ ferree
* * *
April as usual will bring a shower of family birthdays (and an anniversary), including my late husband’s “Forever 49” birthday. With the thought that he would have been 53 years old, I realized that I’ve become settled into the groove of widowhood. I felt somewhat ambivalent about feeling too settled, feeling like I need to push myself forward. I certainly have done several “firsts” multiple times over and there will be more to come. Funny, once in awhile I miss the rawness of grief for it kept the nearness of Mike closer. I can, however, still conjure up the physical solidness of him - how his hugs felt, how it felt to hold his hand, how it felt to be kissed by him. The last time ever I held his hand was the night before he slipped into the deathly coma. I remember his strong grip and how it loosened, but not letting go as he fell asleep, mercifully without any hallucinations. For a long time I could not think of that night without riding a wave of grief, but Time as the Healer enabled me to cherish the memory easier now.

Recently I went into a Christian store going out of business and a book “The Undistracted Widow” caught my eye and in leafing through it, a phrase jumped out to me: “Widowhood is not simply a problem to be solved or a circumstance that must somehow be overcome.” 

I then bought the book even though I had already read a few books on the topic of widowhood. The author, a widow herself, shared an article that helped her to see widowhood as a calling from God. The article goes on to say that both marriage and singleness are callings, or vocations. The article’s author explained that when we view our lives as a calling from God, we believe that God has arranged for us to enter a certain state and qualified us to be used by Him to bring in the kingdom of God.

The author then said that is true for a Christian whose spouse has died, and true for a Christian whose spouse had walked out, deserting him or her. And now we have the choice to see our singleness as a vocation, not by bad luck or chance, but as a gift from the Lord. He also wrote that of course, no one would expect such a person to think about the state of singleness as a gift immediately after some traumatic event that has made him or her single.

The author of the book, in another chapter, outlined 10 ways how not to waste the experience of widowhood and use it to magnify Christ:
1. We will waste our widowhood if we do not believe it is designed for us by God.
2. We will waste our widowhood if we believe it is a curse and not a gift.
3. We will waste our widowhood if we seek comfort from anything other than God.
4. We will waste our widowhood if we refuse to think about death.
5. We will waste our widowhood if we think that “surviving” widowhood means a desperate search for another mate rather than cherishing Christ.
6. We will waste our widowhood if we spend too much time reading about widowhood and not enough time reading about God.
7. We will waste our widowhood if we let it drive us into solitude instead of deepening our relationships with unmistakable affection.
8. We will waste our widowhood if we grieve as those who have no hope.
9. We will waste our widowhood if we treat sin as casually as before.
10. We will waste our widowhood if we fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ. *
Ouch. I certainly needed to adjust my thoughts regarding widowhood and not to see it as just something to be endured. I have hope that I can live fulfilled in this second half of my life here on earth (if I should live to 100!) and it’s up to God if my calling or vocation gets changed back to marriage. Hopefully now I will get some Divine trajectory on how not to waste my widowhood in practical ways. ~ by Lynda M.S. 

* Taken from The Undistracted Widow by Carol W. Cornish, © 2010, pp. 168-170. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org. To order a copy of the book for yourself, please click here: 
512320: The Undistracted Widow The Undistracted Widow

By Carol W. Cornish / Crossway


Writing from a biblical perspective, Carol Cornish helps readers to discover how God is working in the midst of the deep distress of losing a spouse. She provides the reader with direction in finding true and lasting comfort in Christ. Cornish, who lost her husband of 38 years to lung cancer, encourages widows to use their widowhood for God's glory. Ministry to widows needs to be a priority for Christian communities, and Cornish equips churches, families, and friends to come alongside those mourning the loss of a spouse.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Widow's Story: What's In Your Backpack?

by Darlene O'Lena

While doing my devotions this morning, I actually said to God “Lord, I’m SO tired of everything.”

As I sat there thinking of all I have to do today and things on my mind, God gave me an image so strong that I couldn’t ignore it. I pictured a backpack overflowing with LARGE rocks.

On each rock was a label… “Finances”, “Family”, “Work”, “Health”, etc.

In my mind, I pictured myself picking up this heavy backpack every morning and throwing it on my back, overloaded and weighted down. Then, walking thru the day, actually TRUDGING from the weight of this load on my back, only to take it off at night and picking it back up the next day.

Wearing this backpack really takes a toll….. body aches, tiredness, tears sliding down my cheeks, irritability, depression, sleepless nights. Well, no wonder, with a load on my back THAT heavy every day.

That isn’t what God wants for our lives at all ! Didn’t Jesus say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”? (Matthew 11:28) and, also, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30).

He really doesn’t WANT us to carry this around on our backs every day. He wants us to give every one of those rocks to HIM. Empty that bag out at His feet and let HIM take care of it all.

I admit, I have a problem with giving it all to Him. I pretty much have learned to take care of myself, and, in my human nature, still want to take care of EVERYTHING. But, it’s taking its toll. So, I am going to work at keeping that backpack EMPTY.

After I empty it out and hand all the rocks to Jesus, I’m going to keep that backpack on the chair next to where I do my devotions in the morning, reminding myself to keep it EMPTY. It won’t be easy at first, but God will teach me…. 

Father God, thank you for reminding me of this today. Help me and others to “unload our backpacks” today and not fill them back up. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful devotional with us Darlene. Readers, if you missed out on Darlene's mission trip to Rwanda last year I know you'll want to catch up by checking out this link:
A Widow's Journey to Rwanda
Rwanda, Day One
Rwanda: The Rest of the Story

Monday, November 14, 2016

Catching Up With Gayle Roper - WIN HER BOOK!

Ferree with Gayle Roper at Montrose
Christian Writers Conference
Finally! Yes, finally!
I met Gayle Roper at a writers conference in July and am  f - i - n - a - l - l - y  able to introduce her!

She's an award-winning author of some of THE BEST Christian fiction out there, a wonderful person, AND an amazing widow. Read her books and meet her in person at a widows retreat she puts on each March with Sandy Cove Ministries in Maryland. (click here for retreat info). (Click here for her website). If you want to attend the retreat please let me know and I'll consider going too.

You'll also love her book, "A Widow's Journey - Reflections On Walking Alone." I read it immediately after the writers conference and wrote about it in August. I was so impressed with Gayle and her writing I even compared the book to C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed." That's a huge compliment to a writer! (Click here for the blog post and see if you agree).

Her husband, Chuck, died July 2, 2010, ten days after their 47th wedding anniversary, and after 3.5 years when a rare cancer of the bile ducts in and around his liver was diagnosed. "God gets to make the choices," is what Gayle told me. She's chosen to be content, and to her that means "agreeing with God that He and what He's provided are sufficient for His purposes for me." Discontentment equals disagreeing and fighting with God.

When asked what she would pass along to new widows, she said,
"It does get better; it's a slow process. The intense sorrow eases; the overwhelming moments become further apart..."
Other tips from Gayle:
  • Develop women's friendships...
  • Enjoy your women friends...
  • Don't rush remarriage...
  • Learn to be single, and learn to live again.
And here are two tips for bookworms and widows from Gayle the bookworm and widow:
  • I take a book along when I'm going out to eat by myself.
  • Fall asleep at night reading lighter stories where things turn out well at the end. Escape with humorous, fun, light-hearted stories and mysteries.
I want to close with three things Gayle has concluded that widows need. She admits it's best if they're in place before widowhood, but if you still implement what you are able of these three things I believe you'll benefit. The following are from pages 70-71 of "A Widow's Journey."
  • "First, we should have something that is ours, something we do that we don't do with our husbands, something that gives us satisfaction and pleasure when we do it..."
  • "Second, we need family and friends to help us mourn..."
  • "And last, we need a strong spiritual base to stand on... No one else is there in the dark of the night. No one else knows our deepest regrets and understands our loneliness. No one else loves us deeply enough to die for us."
The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
I will build you up again
and you...will be rebuilt."
Jeremiah 31:3-4

Leave a comment here today (not on Facebook), and you will be entered into a drawing for Gayle's book, "A Widow's Journey." You'll love it, and I'm anxious to pass it along. Comment today! The drawing will be on Friday, November 18, 2016, and the winner announced immediately. It will be up to the winner to email me at [email protected] with her mailing address. Once I get that address the book will be in her hands within a few days!
ferree


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Widow's Story---She Dated My First Husband!

Dear Readers,
Shortly after I spoke to the widows group at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, North Carolina, in March I received an email from one of the attendees which made me laugh with delight and just shake my head. My dearly departed Bruce... once again I was reminded that I was the last in a long line of girls he dated, lol.

But this lady, Terri Tangeman, and I had more in common than having lived in Ohio and a date with Bruce. As she told me her story I realized that she and I would have shared a wonderful friendship if we'd have ever met. But then I realized that as Christians we will have the eons of eternity in heaven, and I don't know which I look forward to more---getting to know her here, or There!

I hope her interesting life and the challenges of widowhood she met and overcame by God's grace will inspire you as much as they did me. Here's a peek at what she shared with me:

Hello again Ferree,

My husband Tony and I were married in July of 1977, a year before you and Bruce. We met at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN. Although we were both from Ohio, we didn't meet until our sophomore year. Then we dated three years at school, and married after graduating.

After the wedding we worked in a Christian school near Tampa, Florida for five years. Then we went on a short term mission project with Trans World Radio to Monte Carlo, Monaco and Swaziland, Africa for 18 months. I am a TWR missionary kid, so I was thrilled to be on the field again! When we returned to the States we waited on the Lord’s direction for 1 1/2 years and then became career missionaries with TWR, to the island of Bonaire for 13 years. Both of our sons were born in Bonaire. The Lord didn’t send us children until we’d been married for 11 years, so I always said we had our retirement years first!

Let me back up a bit though. Tony was born with only a single ventricle to his heart. He was never supposed to live! But as he would say, “No one ever told me that, so I just kept on living.” He loved life and lived well-- just at his own pace. During our first furlough from Bonaire, much to our surprise, his cardiologist sent him to Mayo Clinic for an evaluation. He became a candidate for a Fontan procedure, which essentially rerouted his circulatory system. This greatly improved his overall condition (but in the end, it was complications from this surgery which contributed to his death). We returned to Bonaire after a very long recovery and served another 10 years.
Visit this additional website of TransWorld Radio for
tremendous (and free) Bible and ministry resources!
In July of 1999 our boys got sick with a simple virus. Tony caught it from them and it tipped the balance in his system. He started going downhill quickly. We were able to fly back to the US on an air ambulance and take him straight to Duke University Hospital. They stabilized him and he was released from the hospital 3 weeks later. But things were still not right. 

We made another trip to Mayo Clinic but they couldn’t really help with anything but a heart transplant. So Tony went on the heart list at Duke in March of 2000. He got a hospital infection on his skin at the end of April and died from that infection 3 days later. He had been so close to death on numerous occasions and the Lord always restored him to us, but not this time. This time I knew Tony was going Home.

When we first entered Mayo Clinic back in 1990 I asked the Lord to speak to me daily from His Word and show me what He had for us. Time and time again that Word promised life! I hung on to those promises and saw God heal him. In 1999 when he was sick, I again asked the Lord to prepare my heart. This time the message was “trust me and praise me.” That’s what we did. When he passed away, I was able to come home from the hospital praising the Lord and trusting Him for my future.

Like you when Bruce died, everything in our world changed too. (Everything except that I was still the homeschool teacher for my 2 sons). We had to move back to the US from our home in Bonaire. In doing so we lost our home, our country, our ministry, our church, our friends, and our pets...besides losing Tony. We lost it all. But because the Lord had prepared my heart I could continue to praise Him and trust Him. I knew that how I responded to Tony’s death would greatly impact how my sons responded. I made it my mission to teach them that God is good and we can trust Him. God provided all we needed.

My guys graduated in 2007 and 2010. They married in 2011 and 2012. It was THEN that I finally understood that I was alone and Tony was gone. I grieved when he died. But I grieved in a whole new way when I was alone.

I never realized how much focusing on my sons had kept me from focusing on my own loss. As our Social Security benefits disappeared because the boys were grown, I went to work with TWR right here in Cary....first part time, now full time. My kids live in the area and I am a grandmother now. New joys!

In some ways our stories are very different: while I knew of my husband’s condition, we had seen God raise him up from death’s door over and over again to live strong again. I really didn’t know until 3 days before he died that it wasn’t going to happen this time. I did however, have more warning than you did when you lost Bruce. But it speaks to me deeply that even though I married a man who some thought would leave me an early widow, your strong, healthy husband actually died before mine. Tony was 47. Bruce was 46. I love Ps. 139:16 and cling to that truth.

God’s great faithfulness has sustained me and the many lessons that He taught me during our Mayo Clinic experience in 1990 prepared me for leaning hard on Him. I still marvel at the fact that Bruce was your husband! And that we have met in this unusual way.

May God bless you as you continue serving Him,
Terri


Psalm 139:16 New International Version (NIV)
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Do You Have A Role Model?

I never see my name on pretty pins or stationary in stores,
so I was thrilled to see it on this sign in Paradise, PA
I think role models are really important for widows. As a widow, I was always wondering if I'd make it, and I carefully watched the widows around me. I tried to figure out if they were happy, and how they found contentment. Sometimes I needed to know how they made it through the day! So I hope this blog fills in some of those blanks for you if you're watching other widows like I was.

I became a true fan of widows when I found out about the woman who's name I share.
You probably noticed my first name is unusual, right? It was actually one of my great-grandmothers' maiden names, and as a little girl I'd heard a family legend that in early American history a lady from France named Madame Ferree received some land from William Penn.

So when I was freshly widowed with a little spare time on my hands, I did some research. I found out that Madame Ferree was more than a legend, she was a pretty amazing woman! Her real name was Mary or Marie, and she and her husband, Daniel, were wealthy silk merchants in France in the 1600's. They were also Huguenots (a form of Calvinist Protestant Christianity)---a dangerous label when religious freedom in France was revoked in 1685. Religious persecution flamed and the Daniel Ferree family fled for their lives to the Rhine Valley of Germany.

Along the way they adopted a boy who’s parents had been murdered for their faith. In Germany Palatine their youngest son was born, becoming the 7th child in the family of refugees.

But guess what happened next: Mary Ferree’s husband died. She was a widow, too, like me! Like you! Except I didn't have 7 children, nor was I persecuted and running for my life.

After her husbands death, Mary Ferree and the children took a remarkable journey to Holland, and then to England. There, "by chance" she met William Penn and Queen Anne, who gave her a land grant and outfitting to The New World! Then she sailed for eleven weeks across the Atlantic to arrive in New York in 1710. I can't imagine what crossing the Atlantic must have been like! No electricity or running water on board!

This is a commemorative plate depicting
the welcome Mary Ferree received in 1712
from Tanawa, chief of the Paquaw Indians.
From the port of New York--remember it's only the year 1710, the United States of America doesn't exist yet!-- she traveled up the Hudson River to a French Huguenot community further inland. And in 1712 she and her family made their way to Philadelphia to obtain the title to their land.

From Philadelphia she continued west for another 50 miles, met peaceful Indians, lodged in the wigwams they offered, and declared the countryside to be Paradise, a word which generations later thought fitting to name the village of Paradise, Pennsylvania.

I was stunned by this my ancestor, her struggles, her faith, her life—and especially all she had accomplished as a widow! I’m not sure I could make it anywhere without a car, my cell phone, or a nice warm bed at night!

But what's most important is that you know you have such a role model, too. Here's where you may find her-- or him:
  • your family tree—maybe your mother, or an aunt, or grandma
  • a friend from your past---like a classmate, or a teacher, nurse or co-worker
  • Scripture--is there a favorite Bible character you can really relate to?
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (NIV)

Don't you just love this verse? I thank the Lord for everything "that was written in the past," and the people who wrote and lived it. God has given their stories to us for our endurance, encouragement and hope. Who are your role models today? I'd love to hear your stories!

ferree

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Widow's Story: Pregnant!

Dear Friends,

A daily Bible reading habit offers food for thought, knowledge of God and his ways, and every once in a while a shocking surprise!

On our private Facebook widows group Lifeboat, we've had several widows who gave birth after their husbands died, and a few who's husband's died when their children were very young babies. My heart goes out to these women. As I try to pray for them intelligently, I wonder about their daily routines and how they feel. When I put myself in their shoes, I can pray for specific things for them. And sometimes I struggle with the hard questions life's fairness and suffering in general.

One particular day I was thinking about these women while doing my Bible reading in 1 Chronicles. I won't come right out and say it's boring, but I will say the only time one would read 1 Chronicles is if they've promised to read through the entire Bible, or if they want fall asleep at night!

In order to stay on task I had to literally follow the lines with my finger. And then God socked it to me! As I was thinking about these widows who were pregnant when their husband's died this verse came up:

1 Chronicles 2:24 (NIV)
After Hezron died in Caleb Ephrathah, Abijah the wife of Hezron bore him Ashhur the father of Tekoa.

Oh my goodness! There was a pregnant widow in Bible times!
It was as if God told me, "I know. I've been through this with other widows, too. I put this verse here for you, and I leaned your thoughts towards this verse today. Nothing takes me by surprise. They're all in my hands, they'll be OK."

By the way, Ashhur, the baby born to the widow, grew up to be the founding father of the village of Tekoa in Israel. This town still exists! This baby, raised by a widow, made a name for himself and left a strong legacy that has survived for thousands of years!

This reminds me of another verse:
Romans 8:18 (NIV)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

God has a good purpose and hope for widows today, too; for Joannah, Crystal, Christine, Wendy, Carol and many more . . .

ferree

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Widow's Story: More Than She Ever Dreamed...

Here's a letter from a reader that I've been granted permission to share with you. Are you ready to read about her long-awaited love story? I think you'll enjoy it.  ferree

Hi Ferree,
Been awhile since I’ve written you, but felt that I would share and hopefully convey to some of the widows that there is life after our beloved ones pass.

I’m sure you’ve seen that I’m engaged and I couldn’t be happier. But it took a while to get to this point…

I first met my now beloved just three months after Wayne passed away in 2012. We went to dinner a couple of times, but I knew I wasn’t ready and that I was still mourning my Wayne. It didn't seem fair to me to take up his time and rob him of meeting other women, perhaps even his future wife! So I made a covenant with God that I would stay single until He introduced me to His choice. I had seen a picture captioned, “Dance with God and He will allow the right one to cut in.” Well, that’s exactly what I've done. I’ve kept to the motto and obedience to dance with God until He brought the perfect one.
Come January of this year, John contacted me again out of the blue, and asked if I’d like to go to dinner. We went and it was as if God had already ordained this relationship to bloom. We'd talk for hours on the phone; he’d come over and we’d talk until 2 o’clock in the morning. We’d take long walks holding hands, laughing, sharing about our childhoods (neither one of us had an easy one), and talking about losing his wife to cancer. They were married 42 years, and Wayne and I were married 20 years. He lost his wife exactly one month prior to me losing Wayne. We talked about how it was hard to helplessly watch them die a little bit every day.
 
There were so many similarities in losing our spouses, and I think that’s why we could cry in front of each other. One day as we were sitting on a park bench sharing these similarities it was as if God had planned it perfectly: we looked up and saw two hummingbirds flitting above us! They'd disappear and then return, looking at us as if to say, "It’s okay, time to live, time to love again and enjoy God’s blessings!" Little did either one of us know that both our spouses loved hummingbirds! She had collected them and mine had photographed them. Only God knew……He’s so good.

I shared with him my covenant with God to remain pure until I married again because I felt it was the greatest gift I could ever give to a new husband. Ferree, he was so moved by my covenant with God that he cried! He explained that he had tried dating other women after me, and although he had some enjoyable dates, he said it was the women who came on to him for pure physical pleasure. He said he told them "no," and they would say “What are you, gay?” and other hurtful things. He said he told them that intimacy was reserved for the wedding night and not to be handed out like a piece of sweet candy. Then I cried too! Who would have thought he had made the same covenant as I had? God did!
On April 22nd he called me and asked if I could be dressed and ready to go by 8:00 the next morning? Of course, I could! I awoke early that morning to get ready. I have to admit I was nervous because I had no clue what was planned for the day. Right on time a knock came at the door and when I opened it there he stood, smiling. He asked if I was ready and when I stepped outside there was a black limo, a red carpet rolled up to my door, and a chauffer waiting to open the door and help me into the limo! And of course there were neighbors outside watching (LOL!!) I got in and now I really started getting nervous! I asked where were we going and he said, "Well you said you've always wanted to visit the winery that's the same as your maiden namesake, so I thought we’d go and do it in style."

The drive took about 2 hours to get to the winery, and of course, when a limo pulls up anywhere everyone is curious. The chauffer opened the door and helped me out and as we approached the door to the winery, he opened that one too! Behind it there stood three young ladies, each with a single red rose and they asked, "Are you Deborah?" I’m giggling, and blushing, but I said "Yes," and they gave me each of their roses. Then, the owner of the winery took us on a private tour! Come to find out after talking with him, we actually are related by six generations ago! Who would have thought!
We left that winery and proceeded to drive to two others. Each time I was greeted with three red roses. I looked at my beloved and said, "What’s going on?" He said, "I just want to make today special, as you deserve it."

I remember asking God, Is this real? Am I dreaming? How was I blessed to get a such a romantic gentleman? I looked up and said thank you, Lord. Our last stop was by a lush green meadow with trees. This time when the limo door opened there was a red blanket, a bottle of champagne, two glasses and strawberries.
He led me to the blanket to sit down. He opened the champagne and then said, "I need to read something to you. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t mess up." He read to me all that he'd been looking for in his next spouse; that I had all the traits, plus more he hadn’t even counted on; and that for the last three years he had been praying that if it was the Lord’s will that He would let us reconnect again. He had fallen in love me on our first date in January shortly after my Wayne died. He told me he knew I was the one for him, but he was afraid to share for fear that I didn’t feel the same way, and other sentimental and deep heart emotions. He then laid the paper down and reached inside the basket and brought out a box. He opened the lid and asked if I would marry him! Tears just flowed and I hugged him for the longest time. He said, "Is that a yes? I said "Yes, a thousand times yes!" and then when I saw the ring (band was in the box as well) I about fainted! I looked at him and said "Oh My!" My hand was shaking so badly that he had to lay it flat on the blanket to put the ring on. LOL!!! I have yet to come down from the clouds of that special day and I just praise the Lord every day for this wonderful man He brought into my life.
So I guess what I want to say to other widows who doubt they’ll ever find someone as wonderful as their passed beloved--- if you trust God, He will allow you to have that fairytale ending. So keep your eyes on the Lord, stay obedient and trust Him to select the right one to cut in on your dance. God will truly give you the desires of your heart.

Yes, I had many nights that were lonely, many times where I’d be out and seeing other couples interact. Many times I'd say
Lord, I’m ready to have someone special, I’m ready to be a wife again. I don’t want to be alone forever. I know You’re my husband and I praise You for providing, protecting and comforting me during these hard times. But Lord, I need the physical touch, someone who can hold me tightly when things are off balance, someone to share the joy you’ve placed in me--someone I can live out the rest of my life with while giving YOU praise. But I trust you, Lord, and I will wait for however long it takes.
Anyway, just wanted to share and hoping this might help others. (((HUGS))) Deb B.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Widow's Journey to Rwanda

Dear Reader, Have you ever considered going on a short-term mission trip? You can join me this week as we visit the country of Rwanda through the eyes of my Facebook friend Darlene. She pushed through many challenges to get there and the Lord surprised and blessed her many times! ferree

Thinking about my little namesake,
Darlenne, over in Rwanda today....
  Praying for you, little Darlenne....
TURNING MY TRIALS INTO TRIUMPHS
by Darlene McComis O'Lena   March 26, 2016

Rwanda, Africa. Called “the land of a thousand hills,” it is a small 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 me going on a mission trip started 20 years ago. Friends of ours had gone on a trip and told my husband, Chuck, and me about it. That very Sunday, pastor gave a sermon on missions and asked people to step forward if they wanted to go on a missions trip sometime during their life.  Chuck and I went forward, as did many others. But 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 years. 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 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 would come true.

I had heard about a mission in Rwanda, Africa at my church. I had always thought about Africa.  One of my favorite movies as a child was “Stanley and Livingston,” about 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 how 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 who 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 had 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 could I do with that? Oh, but God had a chosen plan for me!

Share your food with the hungry  and provide the poor wanderer with shelter —when you see the naked, to clothe them….Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness,   and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always;  he will satisfy your needs. Isaiah 58:7, 10, 11

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

2 Groups for Widows At Foothils Bible Church, Littleton, CO

Dear Reader,

I want to tell the world about your widows group! It'll be so helpful and encouraging for widows to see that groups really do exist, that other widows have started these groups, and that they can probably do it too.

Today's group is from Colorado, and the information comes from Leslie, a longtime friend here at Widows Christian Place. She has followed God with gentle grace and faith in the loss of her first husband eight years ago, and then on to a sweet second marriage almost three years ago. Leslie is on staff at this church. And the church now hosts 2 groups! The first, Joyful Christian Widows meets once a month, the other, a growth group, meets once a week during fall, winter and spring.

1.
Name of the group: Joyful Christian Widows (It's a community group that meets at Foothills Bible Church)
How long the group has been going: 3+ years (Started out meeting in private homes and at restaurants), less than a year meeting at Foothills.
Location: Littleton, Colorado
Church office phone # or email: (303) 979-0685 x 222; [email protected]
How often the group meets: Once a month
Purpose:  Social, encouragement and support.
Their usual meeting goes like this:  We meet for brunch and fellowship, encouraging one another (particularly those new on the journey) through conversation and a meaningful devotion/discussion time.  We enjoy just being together with other women who “get it!”
Ideas you've used that would be good to share with other groups:  * As our group grows, we are seeing the value in developing a core leadership team that is united in vision and purpose and seeks to honor God in the way we lead the diverse group women who come to our events. * Always have Kleenex on hand. * And chocolate.
J
Anything else you think we'd like to know:  Joyful Christian Widows is a community outreach, with women attending from all over the greater Denver metro area and beyond (as far as Colorado Springs!) We welcome widows at any stage from newly widowed to remarried. We have a Facebook page (search “Joyful Christian Widows”) where we keep in touch between gatherings and post information on our events.


2.
Name of the group: Kneebone and Eskew Growth Group (G2) at Foothills Bible Church
How long the group has been going: One year.
Location: Littleton, Colorado
Church office phone # or email: (303) 979-0685 x 222; [email protected]
How often the group meets: Once a week during the church’s official G2 session (fall, winter, and spring).  We meet together socially during the “off seasons.”

Purpose: Bible/book studies.  Our recent studies have included Postcards from the Widows' Path (Ferree Hardy), Where do I Go From Here (Miriam Neff), and A Grace Disguised (Jerry Sittser).
Their usual meeting goes like this: We meet in the church’s Prayer Chapel on Wednesday mornings for prayer, fellowship, and to go through a biblically based book study that is of particular interest to widows.           

Ideas you've used that would be good to share with other groups: * We have adopted one of our church’s “Global Outreach” workers, a missionary who is herself recently widowed.  We encourage her through prayer and notes/cards, and we partner with others in our church to make sure she is remembered with gifts on her birthday and at Christmas.
Anything else you think we'd like to know:  We are one of many small groups within our church, but we are unique in that we provide a safe place for the widows in our congregation and community.  Any widow is welcome to join us!  Women can sign up for our G2 online here:  http://www.foothillsbiblechurch.org/smallgroup/kneebone-eskew/ 



Wow, I love their ideas---especially about adopting a missionary who's been widowed. And, of course, the chocolate! :)
Let's hear from you now, OK? Just copy the format below, paste it in an email and tell me about your group. Email it to me at [email protected] and I hope to post your information soon.

Love to you,
ferree


Name of the group:
How long the group has been going:
Location: 
Church office phone # or email:
How often the group meets:
Purpose: 
Usual order of meeting goes like this:
Ideas you've used that would be good to share with other groups:
Anything else you think we'd like to know

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grace---God's Outrageous Grace---A Widow's Story


Grace Fabian, July 2011
This lady doesn't look so outrageous, does she?
But the Lord's work of forgiveness in her life, her childrens' lives, and the Nabak tribe in Paupau New Guinea has been a journey of outrageous grace.

I was privileged to meet Grace in 2006 when we "just happened" to end up together as roommates at Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA. I plan to attend again this summer---oh my!---it's ten years later! I can't wait, it's such a spiritually refreshing time so I hope you'll enjoy reliving some of the moments with me today.

When Grace and I first met we'd both been widowed and we were both investigating whether or not we should write a book---mine would be about God's guidance for widows from the Bible's book of Ruth. Grace's would be about God's sustaining guidance and grace after she found her husband murdered while translating 1 Corinthians 13 (known to so many Christians as the Love chapter).

Grace's book, Outrageous Grace, has now sold thousands of copies and is earning recognition as one of the greatest missionary stories of our time! When I read it I couldn't put it down!

I'd heard her story from her own lips late into the night as we sat on our beds like schoolgirls the first time we met at the Montrose writers conference. I wept then, and I was moved again while reading about parts of her life she'd kept quiet about that night---her husband's narrow escape from eastern Europe in World War 2, the stress and injustice of the murder trial and investigation, and how her own life was verbally threatened and physically harrassed in the months following the murder!

I've also listened to her speak on the deep, ever faithful goodness, kindness and love from the hand of God--isn't that an incredible message from a widow who's husband was brutally murdered? God's grace IS outrageous, and my friend Grace IS amazing!

But do you know what? God offers the same love, grace, and relationship to all widows--even you, even me. We learn about it through this fellowship in suffering-- by reading about a role model like Grace to learn her secrets, by encouraging each other in grief support groups like GriefShare or a widows group, but most importantly-- by seeking a vital, living relationship with our God who is standing with us.  ferree

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reflections: Do You Feel Like Your Heart Is On Hold?

My blogger friend Candy at Reflections from My Porch Swing has been climbing a long and difficult trail for the past six years since her husband, father and mother all died within months and she's had major changes and health issues to deal with ever since. But you know what? She deals with them! I've corresponded with her and read her blog for several years now and I don't believe she's ducked away from any of them. Oh, she'd have liked to! But she's too honest and authentic to sweep things into hiding and denial.

In the post I've linked to here (a must read!) she's realized how focused on death her life has become. She wonders if it's now time to tell her heart to beat again. We all have days like that, but for some of us it becomes a season. Is it time for you, too, to quit living life on hold and for your heart to start beating again? The blessing jar she mentions will help, as will being sensitive and obedient to God's Word in your life. We all know that our life changed forever the instant our husband's heart stopped beating, but what would happen if our own heart started again? Be sure to click over to Candy's post today.

PS. Here's a music video "Tell Your Heart To Beat Again," by Danny Gokey. He's a Christian musician (and American Idol finalist, sesason 8) who was widowed in 2008. He remarried in 2012.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Glimpsing A Widow's Story: The Call

I hope your heart will warm as mine did when I read this from my friend Courtney. She didn't intend for it to be a poem, but it sounded poetic to me so I gently arranged the lines of her words so you could slow down your pace and remember, perhaps, the day you also got "the call." How has life changed for you since then? Do you think that someday you too, will begin to no longer dread the jangle of the phone and it's news? And maybe... even anticipate... some news of life?  
ferree
The Call
 
The call to some,
myself included,
the call came that changed everything.
The call that brought news of an accident,
that something went wrong.
The call that shakes the ground you stand on and your legs give out.
My call was 29 months ago.
That one call caused anxiety and panic for months everytime the phone rang
as i anticipated more bad news,
more sadness,
more tragedy.

But then,
after 29 months,
i began to wait for the phone to ring.
I waited for the call of a little one who needed me
to stand in the gap and love them,
care for them,
and teach them.
 
I was waiting for a life giving call,
no longer a life taking call.
 
In the days of waiting for a little one, i realized how beautifully God was redeeming and restoring... what once brought panic now brings anticipation, what once brought news of death now brings life and a new beginning. 
 
It is with much gratefulness and humility i can say I GOT THE CALL! And now i have the blessing of caring for sweet baby "B",who was born on Christmas day. This is a journey that has stretched me in more ways than i know but watching the way God moves in the unknown and the waiting has revealed his grace,sovereignty and faithfulness more than i deserve.   ~ Courtney F.


P.S. Courtney, Your words today remind me of what happened to another widow...
 
Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own.
Ruth 4:14-16 (New Living Translation) 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Widows' Story: LaShaunda


(from her Lifeboat post on 12/18/2015. Used with permission)  There is something I want to share with you all. My husband passed away in October of this year. This was my very first Thanksgiving and Christmas without him for over 15 years. Monday (Dec. 28) was my first birthday without him as well.
During the holidays, I did not receive one phone call nor one visit from friends nor family. Usually every year for the holidays, everyone would always come to my home. Even though I was a little disappointed, I still felt God's peace.
 
This was an eye opener concerning the importance of keeping my eyes on God rather than people. God still blessed us (myself, son, and daughter) to have a blessed Christmas. We spent quality time together and opened gifts. We gave thanks to God for everything and our hearts were full of joy and peace. We even did a dedication for my husband which gave us peace in our hearts because we are keeping his memories alive.

I am sharing this because I always read this Bible verse, John 16:33 - I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. My world has been completely turned upside down and I am definitely facing tribulations (a state of great suffering or trouble), but the peace of God is so deeply rooted in my heart that I can still smile through the midst of it all.

I am encouraging you to know that it is okay to feel pain and to cry, but do not allow it to overtake you. God has His peace waiting especially for you. Receive it and experience being of good cheer through your tribulations. Put God first in your life and in His timing everything will fall into place.

Losing someone we love is never easy, but we can cherish the good times we had together and continue to keep their memories alive as a way to honor them. This is something that God is teaching me as I go through my healing process. I hurt and I cry, but I refuse to allow it pull me down. I am determined to move forward because in reality this is not our permanent home and one day I will see my husband again.

I am praying for you all as you go through your tribulations in this world. I pray that you will receive the peace of God in your hearts and that you will experience the blessings of being of good cheer. I love you all and may God bless you always.

Thank you LaShaunda for sharing this with us today, and may God bless you too. ferree

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Is There for Widows to Give Thanks for on Thanksgiving?

From a widow friend after Thanksgiving last year....

2014

This Thanksgiving I invited another widow and her two young boys over. Her husband passed away 7 years ago and she just turned 40.

We sat at my big table...her boys....plus all my children...

For a moment, emptiness swept over me as I realized none of these children had an earthly Daddy any more. No male "head" was seated in the foremost spot.

With a deep breath, I made a decision to focus on the smiles of just being together. I thought of how my friend had survived on this journey far longer than I . . . and then I simply gave in to joy.

This was not a time of sadness. We both knew we have had enough of that and it would surely come calling again. Instead, my Thanksgiving day was an amazing testimony to survival and courage and hope.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me this respite from my grief. Thank you for helping me focus on the blessing you were giving me in the "now" and not letting me waste it. Thank you, Dear Father, for giving me a glimpse of joy. Amen

 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Widows Groups Are In Surprising Places

Kenya, Africa
It's pretty cool to watch the idea of "Lifeboat" widow support groups set sail around the world. Pictured is a group from a few years ago among the Massai tribe in Kenya. Our type of lifeboat can go by land or by sea, in America, Africa, and now in Canada! Look at this sweet note sent to me in October:
 
...Starting a widows support group in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. First meeting in 2 weeks....dinner and a speaker. No idea how many will attend. Open to all widows--- Christian and non-Christian. Calling ourselves Stratford Lifeboat Widows Support Group. We swim through storming waters after we become widows, then reach for those already in the boat for support, encouragement and friendship. For those of us who believe in Jesus...He is the anchor in this journey. Asking for prayers... Thank you, and would appreciate any suggestions and ideas. Blessings, Nellie M.
 
In the summer of 2011 I started one private widows group on Facebook and named it Lifeboat. I added just about every widow I knew, which might have been only 30 or 40 ladies. When it got up to over 100 members I started Lifeboat 2. Now, a few years later, each "boat" has more than doubled and I've added two more "boats!" But the best thing to see is when women create their own Lifeboat (or other named) widow groups. Like my friend and co-laborer in the Lord, Miriam Neff says, "No one understands a widow like another widow." Check out Miriam's website for the groups she has started in the Chicago area, and then Africa, and now into Europe!

God blesses the little bit I do, He blesses what Miriam does, He blesses the Lifeboat groups in Kenya, in Canada, and on Facebook! It's just like the parables Jesus told---we give whatever talents we have, and God's the one who blesses the outcome. What a cool thing to be part of that big picture! Let's join together in helping widows everywhere! ferree
P.S. I'm delighted to tell you I'll have an update on the group in Ontario after Thanksgiving. I was so excited to hear what they're doing, and I know you will be too! AND I heard of another group in Kenya!

 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Faith for the Long Run

The following "long sappy post" is from a widow friend of mine, but it's anything but long and sappy. She's writing from the front line of this battleground called grief.  ~ferree
Warning....long sappy post.

Carl has been gone 6 years, 9 months and 3 days. The past few weeks have been challenging. I miss him. Incredibly so. 

The fact I have learned to fix a toilet, put air in my tires, killed a (very small) snake, lost my house, buried a dog, bought a house, bought a car, mowed the lawn, organized the garage, taken several solo trips and have even fallen in love doesn't erase the part of my heart Carl will always have. 

This season of my life causes me to feel trapped between what my life was and what it will be. It's uncomfortable. I am not at a place where I can move forward for many reasons. So I'm waiting on Gods timing. And that friends, is not cool. See? My human part wants to move forward. Be done.....

Grief stinks. It lingers. It's like a sniper attacking at the least expected moment and causing painful collateral damage.
 

Carol
The process can shake who you are and what you stand for to your very core.
 

This morning I read this scripture:
 
so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Corinthians 2:5)

I do not have to understand nor explain my circumstances. I just have to hold onto my faith in Him-- that His power (wisdom, strength and plans for me) will pull me through. 


I am comforted by that. See, at times, that very faith is all I have. And in retrospect I see it has protected me from the collateral damage of sniper-styled grief.


When my heart gets overwhelmed, it knows to cry out the words, "Oh God," to my Savior who does just that---He saves me.

 
Copyright 2015 by Carol Mason-Davis