What I Want or What Is Best?

Valentine’s Day.

Along with our anniversary, this is one of those days on the calendar that we widows dread. Can we just skip this day? Pretend it doesn’t exist?

One Valentine memory I have is when my husband, who rarely brought me flowers, had flowers delivered by some internet big-name company. They came nearly dead!  He had his secretary call and complain, so they sent another batch right away. It almost seemed like the company was verifying his true feelings about how impractical flowers can be!

During this time of year, I find myself running off in my mind to a place where I was happily married and feeling the love of my husband so deeply. My mind wanders off to places that didn’t even exist! I begin to imagine myself on the cover of a romance novel, wrapped in the arms of some half-dressed sweaty hunk! But I’m probably the only one who imagines this…

And with all the talk of “love” this time of year, I also find myself wishing for another chance at marriage. Let’s face it, I have a lot of years left on this earth hopefully.

I was listening to a sermon recently as my eyes moved across the page to a passage from 1 Samuel. The Israelites wanted a king. Badly. They begged God for a king so they could be like the other nations.

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20 ESV

Then it hit me – I sound just like them! Give me a husband, God, so I can fit in with the married folks again.  I want to feel loved again. My kids should experience a father in the house. He can fix all the repairs that keep coming up. Give me a husband…

I sound like a three-year-old, throwing a tantrum. I want a husband, God! I want him now!

Why did God say to the Israelites that they shouldn’t keep asking for a king?

  • They were rejecting God as their leader
  • Their children would serve the new king
  • Their money would not be their own – taxes!
  • They would serve the king

So Samuel shared with the people what God warned them would happen if they got a king like the other nations. The people shouted louder – We want a king! God then told Samuel to give them what they wanted. Even though it wasn’t the best for them.

Sisters, I never want God to say that to me. I want what is best. It might be marriage or it might be to remain single. I want to let God be God, saying, “Your will be done”, and be full of joy on the path He leads me on.

This Valentine’s Day, try to block out the fake images of love, and focus on the undying love God has for us. Let’s not forget His promises in our quest to be like others. I find encouragement in what God said to the Israelites in Isaiah 54:4-5 (living Bible)

…the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more, 

for your Creator will be your husband.

And another encouragement from Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Friend, you ARE loved. You ARE cherished. You ARE beautiful. You ARE special.

This is a wonderful song that will remind you of the love of God today. And another to remind us God’s love will never let us go. 

 

Father God, keep me focused on the path I am on and not always wishing for another route. Remind of the joy and pleasure of being in Your presence. Amen


 

 

Elizabeth DyerElizabeth Dyer, Elizabeth Kay Dyer, A Widow's Might, aNew Season lives in Oklahoma with her six children named after Bible characters, a large dog named after a grandfather, and a noisy cat named after a German race car driver!  Elizabeth lost her husband in 2012 and is learning she only THOUGHT she knew what trusting God was–widowhood has taken that “faith walk” to a whole new level for her. Psalm 94:19 has become a special verse for her family – “Lord, when doubts fill my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.”

 

 

Our team at A Widow’s Might would love to send a speaker to your next event. Email us at admin@anewseason.net to get information about our speakers.

Do you want to read more articles by Elizabeth? Read them here. 

We have more articles on Valentine’s Day. You can read them here. Happy Valentine’s Day by Nancy Ultimate Valentine by Erika  It’s All Good by Sherry

 

A Great Love

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: Psalm 34:18 KJV

My husband passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2011. 

He had been battling a rare blood cancer for over four years.  In November, 2010, it became apparent that the only chance to save his life would be to undergo a bone marrow transplant.  After much prayer, tremendous love from our family and  friends, and a divine certainty that we were in God’s will, we took a leave of absence from our jobs and left Northern Virginia for Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

My husband, Bill, received his transplant on January 14, 2011.  Bill was forty-two and strong in body and spirit.  The first few days were fine. However as we waited for the engrafting to occur, Bill began to contract infections (viral, fungal, bacterial, etc.) because he had no immune system.  

As we watched Christina Aguilera sing the Super Bowl National Anthem on February 6, 2011, I turned to comment on her mistake and Bill was unresponsive.  A team rushed in, and he was whisked away to ICU.  I called our family, and they started making plans to come from various areas of the country.  I will never forget the last words that Bill spoke to me a few days before he passed away.  He said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife!”   Bill fought for several days more.

For a whole day on February 13, the word “Goodbye” kept whispering in my head and heart.  I knew it was the Lord and that He was lovingly preparing me for His answer to my prayers, but I kept pushing it away, hiding from it.  Finally, on the morning of February 14, I couldn’t sleep, woke up early and prayed.  God lovingly reminded me that I had to say goodbye…not forever, but for now.

As I made my way to the hospital with Bill’s wedding band and his favorite blanket, I realized that I had to tell Bill it was okay to go.  I entered the ICU,  covered him gently with his favorite soft blanket and slipped his wedding band on his finger.  I gently laid my head on the pillow beside his ear and whispered, “I don’t want you to go, but if Jesus comes for you, go ahead, I’ll be OK.  I love you!”  He opened and closed his eyes several times and made eye contact with me.

As eighteen of our family gathered around his bedside in the ICU, we sang hymns, took turns kissing and hugging him as he looked each one of us in the eyes and blinked goodbye.  I know the moment our Savior showed up and took my sweet Bill by the hand and led him over into Gloryland.  His countenance became that of a little boy full of wonder and his beautiful lips formed a perfect “O” as though he was already singing praises to the Lord.

Later, we made our way back to the hotel and as I sat in the lobby surrounded by family, the front desk found me and handed me a beautiful flower arrangement.  I thought friends had sent it – after all it was Valentine’s Day.  I opened the card and it said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife. Love, Bill”

God didn’t leave me in that room in the ICU.  He didn’t leave me in that hotel lobby crying over the last Valentine’s flowers I would receive from my husband.  He gave me hope.  I will see my husband again.  I have a Savior that who cares about my every thought and need.  He seeks my company all day and never fails me.

I have discovered I would not have picked this journey if given the choice, but I like who I have become because of what has happened to me.  God’s not done with me yet, and I’m excited to see the plans He has for my life and future.

My husband loved the Lord and, on a day all about love, he went Home to be with his Love.  That is hopeful!

This Valentine’s Day, on the day that celebrates love, may you think about the Lord who loves you—and will never leave you, no matter what.  That’s a promise from Him.

Dear Lord, Thank You for allowing me to love and be loved.   Thank You for assurance that I have an eternal home in Heaven with You when my earthly ministry is finished.  Thank You for Valentine’s Day and a new understanding of love that I have because of You.


Sherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 20 years old and is in her second year of college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

Want to read more articles by Sherry? Sherry’s posts 

Another great article about Valentine’s Day is Holding HIS Hand… by Linda Lint

Ultimate Valentine

Today, we want to remind you that no earthly love can ever compare to the love of our Heavenly Father.  May His love be ever present and tangible in your life.

God is our ultimate valentine.

And here are His love notes to us:

Psalm 68:5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

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

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved.

1 John 4:9-11 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

1 John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 Peter 5:6-7  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Job 34:19 who shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich more than the poor,  for they are all the work of his hands?

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

John 13:34-35  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever.

Romans 5:2-5 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Colossians 2:6-7  Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.

Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.


Some additional encouragement for your day.

God is love. He didn’t need us. But He wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

Saving us is the greatest and most concrete demonstration of God’s love, the definitive display of His grace throughout time and eternity.  ~ David Jeremiah

God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.  ~ Jerry Bridges

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love Him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them.  ~ John Wesley

Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely. … He loves every one of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful, or broken. ~ Dieter F. Uchtdorf


Other articles that will bless you: Happy Valentine’s Day, My Divine Valentine, Who is Your Valentine?

 

 

Be Mine

 

Sisters, expectations can bring so much hurt. And unmet expectations can nearly kill our emotions.

Couples and Singles alike often wake up on Valentine’s Day with unmet expectations. But the pain and emptiness of a widow’s struggle on this day can be unique. Every ad on TV. Every picture of happy couples on social media. Memory after memory.

I found some great articles to help us keep our focus on the Truth of Scripture. Hopefully these articles by our team will help make this day a whole lot sweeter for you, without adding the calories of chocolate.

  • Do you find yourself longing for your husband on Valentine’s Day? Do you long to feel presented as a radiant church or bride, blameless and holy? Radiant church–that’s how Kit felt at the end of the evening.  Continue reading…
  • Happy Valentine’s Day! Yeah, I know…what’s happy about it?  Your significant other is gone.  No flowers for you.  No chocolates for you.  No Jewelry.  No perfume.  No card. No kisses. No hugs.  Just a slap in the face reminder that things will never be the same.  Julie says, If I see one more commercial that “Every kiss begins with ….Kay.” I’m going to hurt someone! Continue reading…
  • It was quite a while before he admitted the embarrassment about his hands. He was concerned about the carpenter’s callouses – all Linda noticed was their strong, yet gentle strength. Continue reading…
  •  God didn’t leave her in that room in the ICU.  He didn’t leave her in that hotel lobby crying over the last Valentine’s flowers Sherry would receive from her husband.  He gave her hope. She knew she would see her husband again.  She has a Savior Who cares about her every thought and need.  He seeks her company all day and never fails her. Continue reading…
  • Our sweet “Carebear”, the late Karen Emberlin, wrote a wonderful article about her heart surgery and compared it to a song being played on Christian radio stations currently – “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again”, by Danny Gokey. Here is the amazing video interview with the artist. Karen’s article is a sweet tribute to her heart beating like never before as she is spending eternity with her Creator God.

Please comment below with your thoughts on dealing with Valentine’s Day. We would love to hear your path to victory.

 

 

It’s All Good

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: Psalm 34:18

My husband passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2011.

He had been battling a rare blood cancer for over four years.  In November 2010, it became apparent that the only chance to save his life would be to undergo a bone marrow transplant.  After much prayer, tremendous love from our family and  friends, and a divine certainty that we were in God’s will, we took a leave of absence from our jobs and left Northern Virginia for DukeHospital in Durham, North Carolina.

My husband, Bill, received his transplant on January 14, 2011.  Bill was 42 and strong in body and spirit.  The first few days were fine, however as we waited for the engrafting to occur, Bill began to contract infections (viral, fungal, bacterial, etc.) because he had no immune system.  He also contracted graft versus host disease in his skin and G.I. tract—a major cause of death among transplant victims.

As we watched Christina Aguilera sing the National Anthem in the 2011 Super Bowl, I turned to comment on her mistake and Bill was unresponsive.  A team rushed in and he was whisked away to ICU.  I called our family, and they started making plans to come from various areas of the country.  I will never forget the last words that Bill spoke to me a few days before he passed away.  He said, “I love you always my beautiful wife!”   Bill fought for several days more.

For a whole day on February 13, the word “Goodbye” kept whispering in my head and heart.  I knew it was the Lord and that He was lovingly preparing me for His answer to my prayers, but I kept pushing it away and hiding from it.  Finally, on the morning of February 14, I couldn’t sleep and woke up early and prayed.  God told me that Bill’s testimony had to be told but that Bill would not be the one to tell it; I would.  He then lovingly reminded me that I had to say goodbye…not forever, but for now.

As I made my way to the hospital with Bill’s wedding band and his favorite blanket, I realized that I had to tell Bill it was OK to go.  I entered the ICU and I pulled back his sheet and covered him gently with his favorite soft blanket and slipped his wedding band on his finger.  I gently laid my head on the pillow beside his ear and whispered, “I don’t want you to go, but if Jesus comes for you, go ahead, I’ll be OK.  I love you!”  He opened and closed his eyes several times and made eye contact with me.

As 18 of our family gathered around his bedside in the ICU, we sang hymns and took turns kissing and hugging him and he looked each one of us in the eyes and blinked goodbye to each of us.  I know the moment our Savior showed up and took my sweet Bill by the hand and led him over into Gloryland.  His countenance became that of a little boy full of wonder and his beautiful lips formed a perfect “O” as though he was already singing praises to the Lord.

Later, we made our way back to the hotel and as I sat in the lobby surrounded by family, the front desk found me and handed me a beautiful flower arrangement.  I thought friends had sent it – after all it was Valentine’s Day.  I opened the card and it said, “I love you always, my beautiful wife. Love, Bill”

God didn’t leave me in that room in the ICU.  He didn’t leave me in that hotel lobby crying over the last Valentine’s flowers I would receive from my husband.  He gave me hope.  I will see my husband again.  I have a Savior that cares about my every thought and need.  He seeks my company all day and never fails me.

Three years down the road, I have discovered I would not have picked this journey if given the choice, but I like who I have become because of what has happened to me.  God’s not done with me yet and I’m excited to see the plans He has for my life and future.

My husband loved the Lord and, on a day all about love, he went Home to be with his Love.  That is hopeful!  Today, on this day that celebrates love, may you think about the Lord who loves you—and will never leave you, no matter what.  That’s a promise from Him.

Dear Lord, Thank You for allowing me to love and be loved.   Thank You for assurance that I have an eternal home in Heaven with You when my earthly ministry is finished.  Thank You for Valentine’s Day and a new understanding of love that I have because of You.

Holding HIS Hand….

by Linda Lint

I cling to you; Your strong right hand holds me securely.

Psalm 63:8 NLT

It was quite a while before he admitted the embarrassment about his hands. He was concerned about the carpenter’s callouses – all I noticed was their strong, yet gentle strength.

I have so many precious memories of those hands – holding my hand while we walked; placing his hand under my elbow when crossing the street; resting his hand on my shoulder when I was upset; sliding the ring on my finger.  Even when we were apart I knew we were “holding hands” because of the love we shared.

It has been almost three years since I held his hand for the last time – yet I still remember the feeling of love that was there.

Now, as I  approach yet another of “those” difficult dates, I am reminded  daily by the media and store displays that I no longer have a “Valentine”; therefore, I have no one to love me.

That is the world’s view.

 God’s view is entirely different. For God tells me very clearly in these words from Isaiah 41;10

valentine-280x280

God is telling me that He is holding my hand as we walk together; placing His hand under my elbow as I cross the street; resting His hand on my shoulder when I am upset and that He has placed a spiritual ring on my finger with His own right hand for He now has become my husband. (Isaiah 54:5)

Indeed, I do have a Valentine!

I thank God  for the 25 years my beloved and I were together, and I gratefully accept the love that He pours upon me as His Valentine.

My Lord, as these coming days unfold before my dear sisters, I pray that You will instill within them a real knowledge of Your ever present “Valentine” love for each of them. Let them feel the strength and gentleness of Your strong right hand caressing them gently – ever so gently. Amen.

 

Desert Love

by Julie Wright

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Yeah, I know…what’s happy about it?  Your significant other is gone.  No flowers for you.  No chocolates for you.  No Jewelry.  No perfume.  No card. No kisses. No hugs.  Just a slap in the face reminder that things will never be the same.  If I see one more commercial that “Every kiss begins with ….Kay.” I’m going to hurt someone!

Let me start of by saying, “I get it.” I really truly do.  Valentine’s Day is super hard for me too.  It was a day we told our friends and family of our engagement.  It was a day that he made me the most special and yummy meal the man had ever prepared!  It was a day that I felt more loved and treasured than I ever had before.  But, now…it’s different.< Sometimes we feel like we are trapped.  Like the pain we are feeling, the loneliness, the sadness, will never be lifted from us.  Sometimes we get a brief reprise from the hurt, but only to be slammed back down to the ground with more rounds of tears, sadness and pain.  It feels like it will never end.  Like it will never get any better.  Like God isn’t listening to us or caring about us…but…there is hope in the desert.

I’m reminded of Moses and the group that wallowed around in the desert for 40 years.  They complained.  They cried. They grumbled.  They didn’t think that God cared about them.  They actually thought that He had forgotten about them.

They wanted to go back to Egypt.  Back to the familiar.  Back to when they had food.  Back to when things were okay.  Back to where they were comfortable and were happy.

It didn’t matter to them that they were in slavery…they just wanted to be back where things were easier.

How often to do we feel that way as widows?  Wishing we could go back to the way things were.  Wanting to go back to our former life as a happily married woman.  Back to the life that was shared with the one we loved.  Back to the time when we had a helpmate.  A financial provider.  A constant handyman.  A playmate for the kids.  Back where we were comfortable and happy.

Now…back to the desert.  God remained with them each and every moment of the trek.  They may not have seen him.  They may not have been very happy with him.  But, He was there.  He even provided for them each and every day with manna (fresh bread) right from heaven.  They were given what they could eat for each day and the rest rotted away…none could be stored for later.  They were given just enough for that particular day.

We are going through our widow desert the same way.  We cry each day huddled in a tight ball on the bed.  We sob into pillows wishing for one more kiss.  One more conversation.  One more…anything.  We keep our heads turned looking back to what once was.  We may not see Him.  We may not feel Him near.  We may not be very happy with Him at the moment.  But, He’s there.  Giving us enough strength (and tissues) for just that day.  He pours out his love, his comfort, his peace on us each day.  Some days we need more peace or more strength to keep trekking, but He knows that and sends it to us fresh and new each morning.

The desert trek felt hopeless and bleak to Moses and the Israelites…much like our desert widow trek.  But, they made it to the Promised Land…the land filled with milk and honey.  The land with more blessings and happiness than they could have ever fathomed.  Did you know it was only suppose to be a seven year trek?  Not forty years!  It took them thirty three extra years to realize what had been right in front of them the whole time.

You know what…we will make it to our promised land too.  There is a spot across the widow desert that will fill us with peace, comfort and believe it or not, joy!  Our promised land feels so out of reach and so far away, but it’s there.  It always has been.  We need to take time to look out and up ahead, instead of back, twisting our necks and straining our eyes to the past.

As you are dragging your feet along in your widow desert this Valentine’s Day, take time to bask in God’s love and peace.  Dry your tears for a moment.  Stomp the sand from your feet.  Wipe the sweat from your brow and look up and out…across your desert and see God’s love waiting for you with open arms, a huge smile, and great big hug that says, “You’ve made it, my child.  You survived the desert.  Come and rest in my peace and joy again.”

Whether your trek takes seven years, or forty years…keep on moving toward Him.  He’s the best valentine you could ever receive.

Hugs and kisses from the desert!

My Divine Valentine

By Julie Reed

“I have loved you with an everlasting love…”  Jeremiah 31:3

Today is a special day for me and I find it no accident that God scheduled my post for this day.  I hope you won’t mind me “re-posting” from an article I wrote last year at this time.  Big hugs to all of you as you endure another holiday without your earthly loves.

It’s Valentine’s Day.  The day that sends millions of people in love scrambling for the perfect gift to say “I love you” to that special person in your life.  Women eagerly await roses, chocolates, perfume or even jewelry. The men are scrambling to find the perfect flowers, the perfect chocolates, the perfect scent and perfect jewel that conveys all they are feeling for their significant other.  A day that should be about love turns into a stress-filled day of hoping you got it all right.

For me, the day before has more meaning.  Yes, that right.  February 13th means more to me than February 14th.  Why?  Simple.  Fifteen years ago my boyfriend was bursting with excitement to ask me to marry him.  He was so excited in fact that he came to my place of work and tried to sneak the ring into the prescription drop off bin while I was working.  My heart sank when I saw the ring sitting in the bin.  No, not here, I thought.  Not at a drug store.  This is not romantic, this is not showing love.  I remember asking the head pharmacist to tell him to take the ring back and wait for me at home.  I’d be off in a few hours and the drug store just wasn’t romantic.  He begrudgingly took the ring and headed out the door with his head held in shame.

When I arrived home a few hours later the house smelled heavenly.  He had fixed an incredible meal for us.  Flowers were on the table.  Soft music was playing.  It was romantic, it was beautiful, it was perfect, but it wasn’t Valentine’s Day.  I remember debating with him to wait.

“I thought we were getting engaged tomorrow.  Valentine’s Day.  That’s what you told me.” I questioned him.

“Yea, I know.  But I’m too excited.  I love you so much and I want you to remember this forever.  Not a holiday because some card company says it is, but because I love you and I want it to start right now.” was his compelling reply.

After chasing me around the house for a few minutes, I finally sat on the couch and he placed the ring on my finger.  My early valentine.  It was perfect.

Flash ahead past 14 years of marriage and 2 children to a holiday that no longer makes me swoon.  It actually leaves an empty, sad, hollow feeling.  A deep pit.  Sadly, my love was called home to heaven almost 18 months ago.  I no longer get flowers at work, a card on my pillow or fancy chocolates.  I’m okay with it, really, but it’s still hard sometimes.  What makes it even harder is that 4 months ago, I lost his wedding ring.  Church friends had come to our house for an extreme makeover church edition and while working outside, I lost it.  I actually wasn’t sure where I lost it.  We took drains apart, searched jewelry boxes, clothing, and trash cans.  Everywhere.  Every corner was checked and double checked.  I had nothing.  The gold circle worn with love and pride was gone.  My heart was broken, yet again.

So, today, February 13, 2011, I received my Divine Valentine.  My husband’s best friend came over to visit with me and the kids and do some outdoor grilling.  We chatted a bit, set up the grill and started prepping the food.  While I was working in the kitchen, I heard my son come running in.

“Mom, mom, guess what we found?” he exclaimed.

“I don’t know, what is it honey? I asked, expecting some strange bug or creature to be presented to me.

I turned and saw my son holding a ring.  The ring.  His ring.  My ring.  Tears welled in my eyes.

“Are you kidding me?  Is that what I think it is? Is that daddy’s ring?” I asked with a shaky voice, already knowing the answer.

“Yea, mom.  It’s dad’s.  Uncle Bobby just found it in the mulch.”

Today, February 13th.  The day before Valentine’s Day.  The day my earthly true love asked me to be his bride.  The day that my heavenly Father reminded me that I am still His bride.  “I have loved you with an everlasting love” is painted on my bedroom wall for me to see every day and now forever in my heart.  Thank you God, for your Divine Valentine.  I love you too!

How Do You Deal with the Days?

By Danita Hiles

How do you deal with the days?

You know the ones.  The ones that are circled in red on your calendar and/or stained with tears in your heart.  The days that meant so much in the life of the one you loved and the life you shared.   That first year, all of those days loomed large.  We had a whole year to get through all of the firsts without my husband Dave.  Birthdays, holidays, wedding anniversaries and  the anniversary of his death.  As the days loomed large, and the clocked ticked by, I knew I needed to come up with a plan to deal with dates that used to be set aside for celebrations and now were simply reminders of what wasn’t and would never be.   Especially for the sake of my girls.   Here are the plans I pondered:

Option #1 – Avoidance…pull the covers over my head until the day was over.   This didn’t work.   Kids are made for LIVING and life does indeed go on.   At ages nine and three, they still needed lunch and laundry and Mommy!

Option #2 –  Wallow…spend the day looking at pictures and sobbing, talking about all that we missed !   This, also was not a hit.  We have cried and talked a lot about Dave as a family, but we needed a tangible expression for the day that went beyond our tears.

Option #3 –  Remember…find a way to commemorate,  honor, make a memory and grieve grace-fully.

As I talked to the Lord about it, He reminded me of all the times in scripture that He told folks to remember specific events or people.  Most of the time, He encouraged them to find a visual way to mark a particular battle or victory or miracle.  Many times it involved a pile of rocks placed in remembrance and named for the occasion.   In 1 Samuel 1:12 , Samuel he took a stone and placed it between two towns following a great victory against the Philistines.  He named it ‘Ebenezer’ saying thus far the Lord has brought us.  God calls His people to intentional remembrance of His faithfulness.

As we approached the first anniversary of Dave’s death, we made plans to travel to Pittsburgh to visit the cemetery where he is buried and spend time with his family.   I awoke that October 3 to a glorious fall Pennsylvania day.   While other families were picking apples at the orchard and raking piles of colorful leaves, we headed to the cemetery with Dave’s mom.  Because of a Navy glitch, we had not yet seen the gravestone with his name in bronze.    I don’t think there are many things more wretched than taking your young children to their father’s gravesite for the first time.

“Please Lord’, I whispered, ‘help my girls.  Help me to be strong.  Help us to face this grace-fully. Give me the words to say, Lord.  Be with us.’

Armed with Pittsburgh Steelers balloons and happy face balloons, we walked up the hill in the crisp fall breeze.

Kelsey started squealing,’ Mommy , look, look’.   As I followed her pointing finger I saw a mother horse and her baby standing at the fence adjoining the cemetery.    As we stared, another mom and foal came over to the fence, staring at us curiously.

‘Mom, can we go…please?’  Kelsey pleaded.   With a slow nod I released them to go.

My girls went running over to the fence, completely captured by the horsey families in front of them,  completely oblivious to our original purpose for this visit.  Dave’s mom and I walked slowly to the grave arm in arm.  Yes, it was just as impossible to believe as I had imagined to see his name on the marker.

Later, after the girls came running over, full of pony stories, we released our balloons to the heavens with prayers and love and a wonderful time of sharing memories of this man who had loved us all completely.  I had to laugh at the amazing provision of our gracious God.  On a day of sadness and remembrance and  tears, He had provided ponies and balloons for two little girls to have in their minds on the first anniversary of their daddy’s death.   They still talked about the horses that God brought to the cemetery for them!

We have been through a lot of those ’day’s since that first year.    And I always try to find some way to acknowledge the day and walk in intentional remembrance.   Father’s Day might find us at the zoo or a ball game. A birthday might include his favorite meal or dessert.  When the one year anniversary of my mom’s death came this summer, we baked brownies to take to the fire station.  A small token for the same guys who had helped her so many times when she fell.     I think when we face a day that looms large on our calendar and in our heart,  doing something tangible somehow releases our heart from the paralyzing grip of grief and allows God to heal us just a little bit more.

Here are a few practical ideas for your days of remembering….

  1. Release helium balloons with notes attached.   I know the theology of this is not sound J , but there is something comforting  in writing down our thoughts and sending them heavenward.
  2. Send a card to someone your loved one loved.   A mother in law, sister, brother , or close friend would treasure a note from you about the one both remember with such affection.
  3. Along those lines, consider doing something for someone else in memory of your loved one.  Brownies for the rescue squad, cookies for hospice workers,  present a book to your school or library in their memory.
  4. Make a memory : Plan to do something you would not ordinarily do – something that would have made your special one smile.  We took a trip to Heinz field where the Steelers play and it was such a great memory for my girls.
  5. Be intentional in your ‘remembering’.    Pull out the photo albums, share favorite memories and funny stories.   My kids love hearing about goofy things that Daddy used to do i.e. putting underwear on his head while folding the laundry!  Eat something wonderful that they would have loved.  There is no finer combination than laughter through tears followed by chocolate.
  6. Give thanks. This is a hard one.   But for me, very important.   Be thankful for the wonderful memories you do have.    Give them back to the Lord and He will meet you there.  (1 Thess. 5:16)

As you remember … know that God sees and He knows.

You are not alone.

We are with you,  shoulder to shoulder – standing on His promises together.

Phil 1:3   ‘I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…’

Psalm 34: 18  ‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit’.

Psalm 16: 11   ‘You will make known to me the path of life,  there will be joy again in your presence, and eternal pleasures forevermore. ‘