Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Holidays. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2019

Dealing with Valentine's Day Loneliness

Dealing with Valentine's Day

 Valentine's Day countdown has begun. About 110 million roses will be sold, and more than 58 million pounds of chocolate will fatten women's hips. Other women's...sadly. I understand. I've been widowed too. My first husband, Bruce, died instantly of a brain aneurism on Feb. 15, 2000 --the day between the big V and my birthday.

 It doesn't hurt like it used to, although I wanted it to hurt always. I never wanted to forget, but the years have drawn a shade over the grief and lifted the weight. I don't know if that will give you some hope today, but hope is a precious commodity so I want to give it out to as many as will accept it. Contrary to popular quotes and memes, Grief does not last forever. But I've been blogging and reaching out to widows since 2010 so I know it can feel like forever when you're in the middle of it. Suffocating at times. 

If you feel on the verge of getting pulled into the vicious vortex of Valentine's Day loneliness, here are some ideas I've collected over the years from other widows. You might be able to transform it by thinking ahead and using these ideas to do something different. If you want to pretend the day doesn't exist and not acknowledge it at all, that's okay too. I often find that people deal with sorrow in two different ways: 
  • remember/memorialize it
  • or choose to leave it alone. It's in the past, its been dealt with, and its time for the next chapter.
Depending on your background and personality, both of these methods can work. There's a third way too---have a pity party, but that won't get us anywhere.

If you'd like to memorialize the day or give yourself something to look forward to, here are a variety of things that might be meaningful for you: 
  • Visit the cemetery and leave a message of candy conversation hearts to melt into the snow
  • Tie a home-made Valentine to a helium balloon and let it fly away to heaven
  • Collect old Valentines and love letters and put them together in a decorative memory box keepsake.
  • Create a collage of photos and frame it to hang on a wall or stand on your dresser.
  • Buy a package or two of school Valentine cards. Send them to your own children, nieces & nephews or other family members. Write a little love note on them.
  • Or send Valentines to various groups--nursing homes, children's hospital wards, missionary kids you pray for, your childrens' ministry leaders, your Bible study group or group leaders . . .
  • Offer to babysit for a married couple so they can enjoy a romantic evening out. Prepare a lot of fun things to do with the kids so you don't end up bored and feeling sorry for yourself.
  • Invite other widows over for tea or coffee and snacks, or a carry-in lunch or supper. Give them an opportunity to share their stories and send them home with a love verse from the Bible.
  • Do something nice for yourself: sign up for a class about anything you're interested in--from Acrobatics to Zebra farming; join a church or community group; get a library card and use it; rent a musical instrument or buy an Irish whistle (I'm having so much fun learning to play mine!); volunteer or find a part-time job...
--hey, I'm getting carried away here, but you get the idea. Plan some 
and show yourself some love and kindness.

If, on the other hand, you just want to forget the day that's OK too. At least your pants will still fit without that 58 million pounds of chocolate.

Do you have some new ideas to share about dealing with Valentine's Day? Please comment today. I love to read everything that comes in and will post it asap. Other widows love reading your comments too and find them a big help.

P.S. Have you ordered your copy of Postcards from the Widows' Path yet for yourself or a friend? Take advantage of a 20% off sale if you order here in my bookstore. (Not on Amazon!) Thanks!

Monday, December 24, 2018

A Christmas Prayer for You

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which translated means, God with us.
Matthew 1:23 (NASB)
Dear God,
You've embedded our seasons and calendars with remembrances of you. The stars shine brighter in these long nights of December, the earth demonstrates your widom as it gives way to seasons of rest and replenishment. Weather fronts swirl both snow and balm around our globe, the moon pulls tides in and out, and planets follow their courses in a cycle of centuries.
Nations rise against nations, republics succeed and fail; houses are built, lovers are loved, babies are born-- some grow old--some do not... But whether only five years old or ninety-five, all eventually die. Yet against this massive and brutal canvas of nature and man your prophets and Scripture lay this claim:

Immanuel: You. Are. With. Us.
You are with the widow too. Such knowledge is too wondrous! We ask, as Mary asked the angel, "How can this be?"
How is it that the Creator of the universe--each galaxy, star, solar system, planet, continent, nation, people group, family, and person-- how is it that you come to us as Immanuel?
Renew and revive our sense of your presence in the cold beauty and long nights of December and grief. For when we know you are with us, we know we can make it through. When our own strength and hope are gone, "God with us," is all that matters.
When our Creator reaches through all of his creation to touch our life and enter our world, we begin to live again.
Grant us this peace and life through your presence this Christmas, Immanuel.

Wishing you a sacred and precious Christmas through the touch of Jesus Christ, ❤ferree

Monday, June 11, 2018

What Do Other Widows Do On Father's Day?

Here is a reprint from a few years ago, but it's timeless...

For all of you with children, I was wondering if you've any tips and suggestions for dealing with Father's Day this Sunday? Have you developed new traditions? Do you ignore it? Acknowlege it? Attend church/skip church? Your answers might be key for other readers here at Widows Christian Place. To start us off, here are some comments from some women who've gotten past that first year.

JB: Ferree, right or wrong I have let my children decide. The first year was tough because my then 22-yr-old daughter's birthday fell on Father's Day. She was born on Father's Day and it only lined up one other time. She had been looking forward to that next time it happened again. I flew to Wyoming to spend the day with her and we ate brunch out and went hiking. My younger kids, whose ages ranged 10 to 15 chose to stay home and keep things quiet with one of their other older sisters. Last year they also chose to skip church and we just spent a quiet day at home. I didn't make a big deal of it, we all knew what was going on. We did talk about it in the days leading up to it. From what I am gleaning so far the choice this year seems to be to skip church and spend the day here. My kids at home are now 12, 14 and 17. Just like any of us, it is not that they couldn't make it through church, it is just that they don't want to sit and be reminded of what they don't have and how great it is.

TSB: Named days - growing to hate them! Not only do I miss the husband who was such a great dad and Gramps, it is the second anniversary weekend of my own Daddy's death. Last year I made charitable donations in the name of those two men. Not sure how my adult son handles it or if he is establishing a tradition.

AE: My kids are grown and Father's Day falls really close to the time their father died. So we are doubled up. I think my children are shifting focus to the father in their own families with, of course, memories of their great Dad. I will let it be their choice. I am with you TSB, I hate named days. I am more conscious of honoring my own father since my husband is celebrating with his Heavenly Father and reunited with his own father in paradise. What a party!

RO: We had our Father's Day a couple of weeks ago in our country. My son went out fishing with a friend. My little girls and I stayed home and talked about dad. I realized it was so important for them especially the younger one to know that the day was dedicated to dads, so she drew lotsa stuff for him which we stored in her memory box (everything she says about dad or draws for him is stored in there). We finally cooked his favorite meal together and everyone was happy!

BJ: My Dad died a year and a half before my husband died. We go away on Father's Day weekend to one of our favorite get aways. It is now a great vacation weekend. Praise the Lord! I/we work hard to keep heart and focus on The Lord. He takes care of me and my children. Our Father. And we are so grateful. Truly.

MG: Last year, our first Father's Day without him, I decided to take my kids to the beach and not acknowledge the day. I'm sure the older ones were aware of the day. My husband never liked making a big deal about Father's Day or Mother's Day. He would acknowledge the day but not plan anything specific. I think we will attend church and whatever happens, happens.

LVW:  Joe died on Father’s Day 2011. I have gone to church every Father’s Day since then and I will be there again this year. Last week at choir practice, the lyrics to the anthem we are singing next Sunday really hit me. So I thought I’d share them with you.

"Father's Day Medley"
In praise of fathers who put their trust in the Lord,
Who teach their children to love and live His holy Word.
With thankful hearts we lift this song to men who walk in love;
For fathers we give all our praise to the Father up above.
Thank you, dear Lord, for godly men,
Who, in their homes each day,
Lovingly lead their families
Patiently show the way.
Thank you, dear Lord, for Christian homes,
And for the peace we share.
When godly men on bended knee
Lead us to You in prayer.

It sure made me think of how thankful I am for my own dad who the Lord has blessed us with for 90 years. (By the way, he sings tenor still in choir!) And it also made me think that even when our husbands and our own daddies are gone from this world, that we have our Heavenly Father who is with us always through the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that it’s easy by any means. I still cry and my heart aches- to be sure. But I try to focus my thoughts on celebrating all those fathers in my life who God has blessed me with……some here and some above. Immersing myself in thoughts of thankfulness on Father’s Day helps to balance the pain of remembering that first sad Father’s Day when I got the call that Joe was gone.

LD:  Father's Day ...without my Dad or Dave...let's just say I wasn't looking forward to it. Another widow put a different spin on the day-- We have the most wonderful heavenly Father who loves us and never leaves us! So I will be celebrating Happy God The Father Day! To honor my Father I am planning on doing an act of kindness to show God's love in a practical way.

Aren't these helpful? This is a good look at what happens in our Lifeboat groups on Facebook. Send me a "friend request" and a message with the word "Lifeboat" if you'd like to join. 

Which ever way you choose to spend Father's Day this year, please know that I'll be praying for you and that God your eternal Father holds you close.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tips from the Front Line of Widowhood

A dear friend, Kim, going through her third Christmas as a widow, wrote to me about yesterday's post, "3 Tips for Christmas Plans." I know that many will benefit from her experiences and responses and she kindly permitted me to post her comments today. Loneliness and grief are such a battle at times and Kim was on the front line of it this weekend . . .

Ferree, I think these points are so very important, even for those of us who have been widowed for years. Holidays bring up so many memories. This will be my 3rd Christmas without my beloved, and while I’m doing a lot better then I was in the past two years, I knew better then to over-do. 

1. Give yourself something to look forward to: This is the first year I’ve had a tree. I bought this little tabletop tree (a whopping 18” tall), and the tiny little ornaments that go with it. The tree is loaded with lights (I get this from my dad), and I actually enjoy turning it on in the evening. “Our” tree now brings joy to a family in church who needed a tree. The rest of “our” decorations are safely tucked away in a plastic tub and stored for down the road — or never again. Those Christmas cards? I took them out, and put them back in the drawer. Perhaps next year. Perhaps not.

2. Escape plan: needed this last night. :-/ Christmas potluck at church and I felt so alone, surrounded by all these happy couples and families. To close the evening we had a small Christmas program with the little ones, and I began to fall apart. I should have grabbed my purse and left, but I actually felt ashamed at myself. How stupid is that? I know better. I know it’s all okay. So I suffered through it all, came home and had a good cry, and then laid it all at the foot of the cross. Today I am fine; and I am firm in my resolve that if I need to escape — I will do so! 

3. Best friend: Thanks for this, I can now plan you for that new little appliance I’m going to buy. (LOL har har). I know it will make mealtime easier and healthier for me — and anything that makes mealtime for one person easier and healthier is a good thing. I’ve also been cashing in on the offers for help, and a group of men from church have helped me clean all of my late husbands things out of the garage. They’ve dealt with everything, and even taught me how to use the tools that are basic. I can now drill holes with the best of them, and I have my own socket wrench and can put shelves and things together. Yeah me! HAHA

Merry Christmas, Ferree, and all the other widows out there who are reading this. Remember to put CHRIST in your Christmas, and to focus on the One who was born so that He could die and rise again for your sins. Oh what joy heaven will be!


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, December 11, 2017

Sweet Christmas Ideas

On Saturday I had the privilege of joining these ladies
for their first Christmas lunch together. From left to right, starting in the back row are
Mindy, Wanda, Sissy, Andrea, Priscilla, me and Marilyn. All of them but Mindy went through my book
"Postcards from the Widows Path" last winter and they've been getting together about once a month ever since.
Mindy, on the other hand, is a Facebook friend of mine and made a special trip from NC to join us. And last but not least was Pam, who took this picture and prefers to hide behind the camera!
I hope you have widow friends to get together with over Christmas. Our conversation around the table was precious and full of hope!! If you don't yet have a widows group, pray and ask the Lord to help you start one in 2019. It's one of the most effective ways to grow through your grief.

And for any time you need a super-quick, super-great Christmas take-along, try these turtle candies.   

Here's all it takes: 1 small pretzel + 1 Rolo candy + 1 pecan half    

Here's all you do: 

  • Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. 
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 
  • Lay pretzels on baking sheet. 
  • Place a Rolo on top of each pretzel and bake for 4 minutes. 
  • Place a pecan half on top of the Rolo and smoosh it down (my favorite part, besides eating them). 
  • Let the chocolate harden back up and try not to eat too many!  

Sometimes starting to bake or make things for others is a helpful way to work out those blah- can't- wait- to- get- this- day- over- and- done- with feelings.

Hang in there, and if you're having a hard time today, talk about it with the friends who understand in our Facebook group called "Lifeboat." Lifeboat is a private group--only members I add can find it. If you'd like to join in, please send me (Ferree Hardy) a friend request on Facebook and a message that says "Lifeboat." I'll accept your request and add you in as soon as I can. 
Sorry, gentlemen, Lifeboat is for women only.
♥ ferree

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Memorial Christmas Ornament #3

Good evening Ferree!!

This is an ornament I had made for us and a couple of family members the Christmas after Kirk passed away. We just love it and it’s one of the first to be hung on our tree.

I ordered them off of I just picked a photo that I liked and was able to design it myself. It’s one of a couple that I made and a couple of family members had others made. They are all special.

Thank you!! Merry Christmas and Happy 2018!!

Angela Key
Hello Angela! This is a forever ornament and even though you'll never forget I'm sure that hanging it up each year makes it even more precious. Thank you so much for sharing it with me today!  - Ferree

P.S. Would anyone else like to share your ornament with the other readers on this blog? Just email a photo and your comment to me at Thank you!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Widow's Handcrafted Ornament

Dear Readers,
I was so pleased to see a photo of this wonderful ornament in my email yesterday. Turns out it was an anniversary date for the sender, which touched my heart. Read on to find out how Angela made this and her special Christmas wishes for everyone.
Angela, thank you for sending me this, it's just beautiful! You put a lot of thought, skill and love into making it and I know that friends here will want to use your idea to create this heirloom for themselves. 
I look forward to posting another ornament tomorrow too! Maybe we'll even get to see yours---just email me the photo and what you'd like to say [email protected]        ~Ferree

This will be my 3rd Christmas without my love, but yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of his death. Here is an Ornament I made for myself and my children. I got the bulbs from the craft store, rubbed a little glue and dropped some glitter in there. Used a piece of my husband’s t-shirt and ironed on his picture and a scripture that comforted me along with his name and dates he was here on earth.

I also bought some tiny vials and put some of his ashes in them so everyone would have a part of him forever. I hope this gives someone else some ideas for keepsakes.

Merry Christmas all. Remember we are celebrating because of what God did for us, and because of the precious gift of his Son we can be comforted knowing our husbands are in paradise with our Lord. We are also comforted by the knowledge that Jesus will never leave us in this state of grief alone. He never leaves us or forsakes us. I pray that all the widows find comfort in Him this Christmas season. - Angela

Monday, December 4, 2017

A Little Bit of Heaven

My friend Ann posted this on Facebook and I thought you'd love it as much as I do. And I never realized you can order these types of Christmas tree ornaments! Isn't this one pretty? She doesn't recall where she got it from but says that there are many places that offer them online.
I'd love to see other ornaments like this one. If you have a photo I could share with everyone please email it to me at or send it to me on Facebook.
A big shout of THANK YOU to Ann for her thoughts today!

For the first time in 37 years I almost did not put my Christmas tree up. 

Thanksgiving weekend was always the time we did this as a family. This year I had company (very welcome company but we were busy) for 10 days over thanksgiving and now into December work and other schedules are taking over. However Buddy (the dog) made sure I still got up before 5am today and got the tree done. 

It is hard to realize this is the 5th Christmas season without Mike physically here but an ornament I had made that first Christmas "alone" was a special find today. 

Christmas also reminds me I am not alone, you are not alone. Emmanuel, God with us, is our comfort and HOPE each day. 

May God bless each of you at this special time of year.

 - Ann

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A Pilgrim Widow: Elizabeth Warren

I've posted this previously, but looking back on history always helps me put life in perspective, and gives me a lot to be thankful for.

Can you imagine crossing the Atlantic in a hand-built wooden sailing schooner without bathrooms, electricity, heat or running water? Did I mention you have five daughters in tow, and you're going from England to America to meet your husband who sailed there three years previous on the Mayflower?

Did I mention the year is 1623?

This was the life of Elizabeth Warren. Kind of makes you glad you're you, doesn't it?

When Elizabeth arrived in Plymouth, her husband, Richard Warren was waiting for her. He hadn't died yet. That would happen in 1628, after the birth of their two sons. Did I mention there were no hospitals or anesthesia or Lamaze classes, and she had 7 children in all?

Hardly anything is known about the women of Plymouth, and even less about the widows among them. But Elizabeth, who lived well into her 90's, over 45 years without Richard, broke through the social conventions of the 17th century and lived out her life in goodness and victory.
"A woman of valor, who can find? Far beyond pearls is her value…
Give her the fruit of her hands, and she will be praised at the gates by her very own deeds."
Proverbs 31:10
Have a blessed Thanksgiving Day, and live each day to its fullest for the Lord.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

New Year's Resolutions for Widows

NYRs-- New Year Resolutions are often impossible dreams of a perfect life that deflate and whiz away like letting go of an untied balloon aren't they? For widows who are just trying to make it through the next day (or the next breath), that balloon took off a long time ago and took half their heart with it. They need to recover a bit more before the next leg of this journey.

But if you are a widow who's in need of some good hope and direction so you can begin rebuilding your life, some NYRs can be great building blocks. Here are the top __7__ resolutions I'd suggest.

1. January 1st: Go to church. (I hear those groans!) Also go on January 8, 15, 22, and 29 and the rest of the year. I know many of you will say its too painful, but so is medicine or physical therapy, and that's what church attendance will do for you--it helps you heal. We are not lone rangers, we need God's Word and God's people. Make sure you go to a Bible believing and Bible teaching church. Visit around if you must. Allow yourself time and several visits to choose. Going to church will show that you are not merely listening about the Christian life, but that you are actually doing it. (James 1:22 and Hebrews 10:25) God will bless you for it and I don't want you to miss out!

2. Daily Bible reading and prayer. Use a Bible reading plan as a guide, but be gentle with yourself. If you are still dealing with the fog of "widow brain," don't try to read through the whole Bible in a year. Rather, use a year-long book like "Daily Light," or better yet, watch for the plan I'll post here each month. My Bible reading plan will get you through the New Testament, selected Psalms, Proverbs and the Book of Ruth reading just one or two chapters each day. Most importantly: if you miss a day (or many days---it's OK, we've all been there) don't give up, and do NOT try to catch up. Just look at what day it is on the calendar and pick up with the reading on that day. For more ideas use the search box in the sidebar column of this blog to search other sites, like the daily emails from GriefShare. (view online if you're reading this on your phone or email). 

3. Sign up to receive this blog by email. That way you'll never miss a post! See the right side column on this site? Go about halfway down to the box where it says

WidowsChristianPlace delivered straight to your Inbox! Just enter your email address in this box.

 I only publish once or twice a week so your inbox won't be flooded. I never share your email with anyone (I'm very protective!), and if you want to unsubscribe you simply click the unsubscribe button. Easy peasy but always encouraging and informative. Take a look at the Remarks tab above to see what other widows are saying about the WCP.

4. Attend my Bible study for widows in the Florence, SC area. "Rebuilding After Loss" is a 6-week series beginning Friday, Jan. 20 at 10:30 a.m. at Florence Baptist Temple, 2308 S. Irby St., Florence, SC. Contact Kent Kendall at [email protected] or me at [email protected] to hold your place.

5. Attend A Widow's Journey retreat March 3 - 5, 2017. If you haven't registered already click here for more information. This will be a fantastic time to connect with other widows, learn from them, pray with them and gather strength for the journey. Yesterday a widow from California let me know she just registered and hopes to meet! I will check and see if I can get some days off work. How about you?

6. Meet me at a ladies luncheon, on Monday, March 13 at the George Theis Assembly Center, Word of Life Campus, in Hudson, FL. I'll be speaking! Cost of lunch is $10.00. Reservations required. Please email me at [email protected] for contact info.

7. Join a local Christian widows group or start your own by getting a small group together to go through "Postcards from the Widows' Path." Request the free discussion guide with your order and be sure to use the Buy Now button with the discount price of $11.99 in my Bookstore. Not ready for a group yet? "Postcards..." is like a good friend and walking partner. You go ahead and order your individual copy at the discount price too. If you want to pay by check please send $15.98 (includes shipping) to Ferree Hardy, PO Box 5024, Florence, SC 29502

I hope you can choose at least one of these resolutions to follow through with this year. Each one is a step forward that scores of widows have found truly helpful. God will not leave you desolate! He has many good things ahead for your life as you step out to follow Him on this widows path.   ♥ ferree  

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Poem: Christmas In Heaven

Christmas in Heaven

(author unknown)

I've had my first Christmas in Heaven
A Glorious, wonderful day.
I stood with the saints of the ages,
who found Christ the Truth and the Way.

I sang with the Heavenly Choir:
Just think: I who longed so to sing!
And oh, what celestial music
we brought to our Savior and King!

We sang the glad songs of redemption,
How Jesus to Bethlehem came,
And how they called His name Jesus,
That all might be saved through His name.

We sang once again with the angels,
The song that they sang that blest morn,
When shepherds first heard the glad story
That Jesus, the Savior, was born.

Oh, how I wish you had been there:
No Christmas on earth could compare
With all the rapture and glory
We witnessed in Heaven so fair.

You know how I always loved Christmas;
It seemed such a wonderful day,
With all of my loved ones around me
The children so happy and gay.

Yes, now I can see why I loved it:
And oh, what a joy it will be
When you and my loved ones are with me:
To share in the glories I see.

So dear ones on earth, here's my greeting:
Look up till the day dawn appears,
And oh, what a Christmas awaits us,
Beyond all our parting and tears.

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Different Kind of Gift for A Different Kind of Christmas

Here's a Christmas gift you may open early this year, even today. It's found in Romans 8:32 (NIV) He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all---how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

This verse was one of my anchor points. Days and months marched on past my husband's homegoing and kind folks continued to sympathize and shake their heads at the shock of it all. I suppose maybe Bruce being a pastor, and such an instantaneous death made it an event embraced by a larger, more public community than I would have had otherwise; it was kind of a ripple effect, touching new sets of people time and time again. Over and over again I'd meet more people who'd be 'so sorry for my loss.' And really, that was the right thing, the polite thing, to say.

But I really needed to hear that although my life was different from what I had expected and wanted--God, who did not spare his own Son for me--would graciously give me all things. That was the truth: my life was different but it was not diminished. I had no husband, but I had "all things." Grace, friendships and help poured in. God's love, help and watchfulness was at every turn. That doesn't mean it was easy or that I was happy. But evidence of God's providence filled my notebooks as much as loneliness filled my heart. My needs were God's way of leading me. My anguish was his call to find my all in him. My pain held promise and hope.

And so, my dear sister in sorrow, will you accept this gift of grace today-- the gift of God's riches at Christ's expense? Talk to the Lord about it and accept the gift of this truth: He freely gave his only Son for you, how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
. . 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 NIV)

I'll be praying for you especially this week. ferree

Monday, November 30, 2015

Not Sitting Home Alone This Christmas

Here's an inspiring note from a reader about surviving the holidays. I can't think of a better outlook and * truth that transforms * than what this "honey" of a widow had to say. Thanks for letting me share this Honey Bee!
Hello Ferree,

I have found it absolutely necessary for me to have a plan for Christmas. The first Christmas after David's death, I spent alone. We had no family. Not a good idea. Neither was sharing with other families. I felt like a fifth wheel, or a charity case, although folks meant well.

The next year I went to Nashville with a tour group and had a great time. The following year I went with a tour group to New Hampshire's White Mountains. Another fabulous time. Last year all I could find was New York City, so to NYC I went and had an amazing time. This year I'm booked to go to Frankenmuth, MI, a lovely Bavarian Village.

It doesn't matter where I go, as long as I'm not sitting home alone.

The bus tours work well for me. They do all the work and the planning. I just show up. Because I have had Stage 3 Cancer and then Congestive Heart Failure after my husband died, my strength is so limited, but I can still have a wonderful life, making new friends, getting "out there", and making sure I am constantly building community in my life "one conversation at a time".

This week one of the baristas at the Starbucks I frequent almost daily said, "You have an exciting life." Yes, I do. * God is good. He opens doors, and the more doors I walk through, the more doors seem to open. It's all documented in my stack of Gratitude Journals.*

I love the encouragement you provide here, Ferree. Yours was one of the first websites I discovered as a new widow. Thank you from my heart.

God bless you and all who visit here.
Honey Bee

Monday, November 9, 2015

How to Prepare for A Widow's First Christmas

Tidings of Comfort and Joy?
Facing the holidays after bereavement

When you’re grieving the death of a family member or friend, you may dread the holiday season. Thoughts of social gatherings, family traditions and obligations leave you anxious and overwhelmed. Your sadness can seem unbearable. You may wish you could skip these next two months and go straight to the routine of the next year—but you can’t. What can you do to lessen your stress and loneliness?
Holidays trigger tough emotions
           You can start by learning what emotions are normal and to be expected when facing the holidays without your loved one. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed as this holiday season approaches, that’s very normal,” advised psychologist Dr. Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, whose first husband died. “You’re probably wondering how you’re going to handle this and are unsure of what course to take. I want to assure you that you can get through these holidays, and hopefully you can even find moments of joy.”
            When you know what to expect, you won’t be rendered helpless as holiday events trigger unexpected emotions. Make a point to spend time talking with people who have experienced a past loss and have already been through a holiday season without their loved one. They can help you have an idea of typical emotions and emotional triggers to expect. These people can also provide much-needed comfort and support.
Creating a holiday plan will help
            Another important step in surviving the holidays is to create a healthy plan for the coming season. “Planning does help you to have a little control, even when you feel totally out of control,” said Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge. A healthy plan involves making decisions in advance about traditions, meals, time spent with others, holiday decorating, gift-giving and commitments.
            You will likely not have the energy or the interest in doing as much as you have in past years. Decide ahead of time which invitations you’ll accept, and let the host or family member know that you might leave early. Consider whether your decorating will be different this year: perhaps a smaller tree or simpler ornaments. If you cook or bake, cut back.
            Make a list of every holiday tradition you can think of, from music to presents to outings. Then decide which traditions will be too difficult without your deceased loved one, which traditions you’d like to maintain, and what new traditions you can start this year.
Communicating with family and friends
             What’s also helpful in facing the holidays is to communicate your specific concerns and needs with your family and friends. People in grief are often tempted to put on a mask and pretend things are fine, especially over the holidays. “I didn’t want to put on a damper on anyone else’s joy,” shared Mardie. “So I put on a happy face and tried to be the sister, the daughter, the aunt, that everybody wanted to see. Putting on that happy face was a heavier burden than I was emotionally able to carry at the time.”
             Your friends may want you to “cheer up” and “have fun,” when that’s the last thing you want. Others will avoid you because they don’t know what to say and don’t want to make you feel worse. Some family members will give you wrong advice in a misguided attempt to help. All of these people likely mean well, but will only end up hurting you if you don’t communicate what you truly need from them.
            As difficult as this may be, it’s important to tell people what they can do to help and what they are doing that isn’t helping. And if you don’t have the energy or inclination to talk to people face-to-face, then write your thoughts, concerns and needs in a letter or email. What’s important is that you are being honest and gracious in your communication.
            In describing the first holiday dinner after she was widowed, Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge said, “It seemed like no one wanted to talk about my husband. I kept waiting for somebody to bring up [his name]. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore. I excused myself and left and bawled all the way home. Later I decided maybe they were waiting for me to decide if it was okay to talk about him; maybe they were afraid if they said anything, they’d make me feel worse. From that time on when I went to an event, I found a way to let people know I wanted to talk about him and I wanted to hear their stories.”
            So where can you find out what emotions to expect over the holidays, how to create a healthy plan and how to communicate with family and friends these coming weeks?
Attend a Surviving the Holidays seminar.
            A GriefShare Surviving the Holidays seminar offers practical, actionable strategies for making it through the holiday season. At this two-hour seminar, you’ll view a video featuring advice from people in grief who’ve faced the holidays after their loss. You’ll hear insights from respected Christian counselors, pastors and psychologists. You’ll receive a Holiday Survival Guide with over 30 encouraging readings, helpful charts and tips to manage the holiday season during this difficult time.
            At GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, you’ll meet with other grieving people who have an understanding of what you’re going through. They won’t judge you or force you to share, but will accept you where you are and will offer comfort and support. “When I went to GriefShare,” said Marion, “I realized there are different ways to grieve.”
           Your holiday season won’t be easy; your emotions may ambush you and suck you under at times. But you can choose to walk through this season in a way that honors your loved one and puts you on the path of health and healing.
           To register or find out more about GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, google their website today and enter your zipcode to find one near you.
Source: GriefShare

Another excellent help for grief during the holiday season is a newer ministry called Grief Care Fellowship. My husband and I will lead a seminar using their "Grieving Through the Holidays." It is very similar to Surviving the Holidays, but we'll have more time for discussion and interaction since we won't use an entire video. If you're in the Florence, SC area, please register with Kent Kendall at [email protected]. "Grieving Through the Holidays" will be held at Florence Baptist Temple, Saturday, November 14 from 10 - 11:30 a.m. and is free of charge. Each attendee will be provided with a student notebook filled with practical helps, ideas and plans to help navigate through the holidays. Please let me know if you plan to come so I can be sure to meet you. Thanks!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Resurrection Reasons to Rejoice

I'm reading a book, The Prayer That Changes Everything by Stormie Omartian, this year. Yep. I'm taking a whole year to read it, it's that rich. When I got to page 63 earlier this week I couldn't help but connect it to Easter! These are seven amazing things we receive when we place our faith in Christ! The power of his blood for our forgiveness and the power of his resurrection for eternal life with him! I hope you'll pause to rest your hope in the Lord and consider these wonderful riches at Christ's expense---God's grace to you this Easter. The verses are from the New King James Version.

Because of Jesus, I am forgiven.
Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:25-26)

Because of Jesus, I have peace with God.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)

Because of Jesus, I don't have to live with guilt or condemnation.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)

Because of Jesus, I have a great inheritance.
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:17)

Because of Jesus, I always have someone interceding for me.
Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)

Because of Jesus, I have eternal life with Him.
And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:10-11)

Because of Jesus, I can have more life in this life.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Have a blessed Easter

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Things Which Angels Long to See - Christmas 2014

Merry Christmas to you, beloved of God!

I recently read this passage of Scripture and thought how perfectly it sums up the hope of Christmas applied to life in this imperfect world. May these words of LIFE bless you and fill you with hope as much as they did me. I've laid out and centered each verse so we can thoughtfully read and meditate on one line at a time. Each is so rich with meaning and praise on this sacred day. May you be blessed! 

Born Again to a Living Hope

I Peter 1:3-12 (ESV)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 
who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 
so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 
obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 
inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 
It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.