Thanksgiving List

It might seem strange for a widow who lost her husband in a devastating stroke to be thankful for so much almost 4 years after his death. But my God is good and has given me to much to be thankful for in my life before, during, and after the stroke.

Psalm 9:1 in the New Living Translation says: “I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.” My God charged me with letting others know of how magnificent He is in my life and can be in yours! The whole purpose of writing my book was to let people know that God is dependable, provides all the support you need, is aware of your daily needs, and gives you blessings throughout.

Since Jerry’s death almost 4 years ago, God has continued to work in my heart and life to give me a ministry and service to others. There are days when I am praying to God and asking why He has blessed me so much? So many around me are suffering and I am richly blessed. Of course, the perspective of gratitude helps you get through each day by looking through a different lens.

As you enter the week of Thanksgiving, don’t forget to make your list of what you are thankful for. Be thankful and grateful for you are blessed by an all powerful God!

Thanksgiving Poster Free Stock Photo - Public Domain Pictures

Today I am thankful for:

  • Living in this country with freedom.
  • The opportunity we have to help Afghan refugees settle in a new country.
  • The blessing of great food for this week.
  • The dinner my boyfriend and I are hosting today after church for 23 international students from Oklahoma University.
  • The pleasure these students give us by getting to know them and learning about their culture.
  • The season of fall with the season of nature getting ready for rest through the winter (rest can be a valuable time for each of us to renew and refresh)
  • Sweet memories of a precious Christian husband for 50 years.
  • Beautiful children who show their dad in their lives.
  • My grandson who has Jerry’s beautiful voice–what a blessing to me.
  • A day of worship today to be with other Christians.
  • Having my book published to tell others about the wonderful works of my God!
  • Salvation–can there be anything better than God wanting us to spend eternity with him?
  • My thankful list is never ending–I pray yours is too!

Speaking at a Lectureship

Memories will surface

I leave September 25 to head to Searcy, Arkansas to speak on the Harding Lectureship. I will also have a booth to sell my books (hopefully).

As I am preparing my presentation, I realize again how phenomenal God’s care was of us during the stroke days! Wow, what an awesome God we serve! Going through the slides in my presentation reminded me again and again of how sweet the care was. Seeing the pictures and watching videos of Jerry during that time brought back so many memories of those 22 months. Please be praying for me as I give my presentation on Tuesday, September 28 on how awesome God’s love was in our lives.

“I will thank you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.”

Psalm 91:1-3

I had to create a PowerPoint slide as an advertisement of my booth. There will be screens to show the different vendors who will be there. As I thought about what I would say on a quick slide to motivate people to stop by my booth, here is what I came up with:

There was an amazing love story between Jerry and Lois Cox during the time of his stroke. It was overshadowed by the even more amazing love story of God’s care for them during that time.

Here is a link to the lectureship: https://www.harding.edu/events/lectureship
It is exciting to be back to doing some speaking again. And the picture is the theme.

I also had an amazing email from a woman who found me by accident on the web, bought my book, and was very encouraged by what she read. She is caring for her husband for over a year now. That is the reason I wrote the book–to share our story of God’s love with others!

Today I am thankful for:

  • Cooler weather on its way.
  • Monarch butterflies in my garden.
  • Getting back to teaching!! Woo hoo! I am teaching at Southern Nazarene University.
  • Our international students at OU–we have 7 new ones this fall.
  • The new German exchange student living with my daughter.
  • The wonderful visits I had on my trip to Wisconsin in August.
  • Reconnecting with 2 of our International students who moved to Tulsa by meeting them at the Gathering Place.
  • A 50 year marriage!
  • Still grieving after 3.5 years–yes I am thankful to have had a marriage worth the grieving.
  • The opportunity to tell others about God’s amazing work.

Jerry Shall Never Be Forgotten

This scripture was in my daily readings recently:

Psalm 112:6 – “Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.”

Of course, I will never forget my sweet husband nor will his family and friends. However, this is an interesting thought that he will be remembered forever. He is eternal and is with God now. From that standpoint, he will be remembered forever with his creator!

The first part of the verse reminds me of my days of the stroke. Leaning on God every day to help me get through kept my faith strong. It would have been easy to decide God had forgotten me to send such a horrible stroke on such a sweet Christian man. However, God taught me so much during that time as well as blessing us with a great relationship for the 22 months. I cherish that time with Jerry before he went home to be with God.

Facebook posts memory pictures from time to time. Today’s was from 4 years ago. What precious times those were!

Memories of my sweet guy.

Today I am thankful for:

  • The wonderful memories of Jerry.
  • Remembering his amazing voice through my grandson, David.
  • Knowing as a righteous man, he will never be forgotten.
  • Counting on God’s promise that dependence on his keeps me firm.
  • The opening of our coffee shop on the Oklahoma University campus.
  • The work with the international students from OU.
  • The recent baptism of Cigole Thomas from India.
  • A beautiful week with lots of sunshine.
  • My family both at church and at home.
  • God loving me no matter what.

God will repay the years

First of all, let me say it has been a very long time since I wrote. That is not because the grieving has stopped but life has just gotten busier and busier even through COVID. I had COVID and survived with only a mild case.

My book is now with a publisher. In that process, it has been edited twice more causing me to continually read it. Each time is filled with tears and memories. December 30 will mark 3 years since my sweet guy went to be with the Lord. Every day there are a few tears shed as I remember his life, our life together for 50 plus years.

One of the scriptures I reread in proofing the book again was Joel 2:25:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.”

That verse was in the introduction of the book. My thought in reading the scripture was God promised to repay me for the years of caregiving for Jerry. Please understand I am not saying those years were wasted–absolutely not. I continually thank God for the time I had with my sweet guy at the end of his life and all the lessons I learned. However, my life was put on hold and God promised to repay that part.

In my Christmas newsletter which you can access here, I explain the new life God is giving me. I am richly blessed to be starting a new job in January–the one I hoped to get when I moved back to Oklahoma 6 years ago. There was just a 6 year detour. I also have now dated Henry for 2 years as of yesterday. We have a blessed life together serving God especially through our ministry to international students at Oklahoma University. God has definitely given me back those years and then some.

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with Care, in hopes that St. Nicholas would soon be there!”

The stockings hung in the picture show my ability to decorate for Christmas a little without being reminded that Jerry’s stocking is no longer there.

Today I am thankful for:

  1. The Christmas season celebrating the birth of our savior.
  2. The reminder of Jerry all month and remembering our precious 50-year marriage.
  3. The new job waiting for me in January.
  4. Dating such a great Christian widower, Henry.
  5. The ministry we have together serving the internationals–3 have been baptized into Christ.
  6. The family I have here close to spend time with almost daily.
  7. The recovery from COVID my daughters, one grandson, and I have had.
  8. The arrival of the vaccine promising relief from the pandemic.
  9. The blessing of technology to allow churches to keep worshipping together during this time.
  10. My Zoom life group Christmas party coming up this Sunday.
  11. The years of caregiving being given back to me by God.

Hidden Treasures

This morning a scripture hit me between the eyes. Does that ever happen to you? I hope so because it is God’s way of getting into your heart to help you meditate and move forward in your faith. The scripture is Isaiah 45:3 – “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”

There are a couple of things in this little verse that speak to me in my widowhood. The idea of hidden treasures is always something to give you excitement. The mystery of it being hidden makes you want to go on a treasure hunt to look for it. Throughout history, there are so many stories of people who hear of a treasure hidden on an island or elsewhere and spend all their time and money in an effort to find it.

But notice, God says He will GIVE us hidden treasure. We don’t have to look for it; however, it often escapes us. The idea of being a widow was not one I thought of as a treasure. I was certainly not spending my marriage looking forward to the day I would become a widow even though we know as women it will probably come. But God has given me so many treasures in my new life. The treasure of completing a book and seeing it in print is totally because of God in my life. The purpose He has given me to share His story is a treasure. When I think back on the 22 months of the stroke, God gave us a treasure of a very special and intimate relationship–the height of our marriage of love. Wow, the treasures come into my life if I am open to God bringing them.

And these treasures are hidden in secret places. The story of the Secret Garden is such a great story. A special place where these children could be alone in their private place. I often feel my garden is a secret place–one where God meets me to talk and deepen my faith and wisdom. But even those the treasures are hidden in the secret places, God is guiding us there to find them.

The other part of this verse tells us God summons us by name. That is amazing to me. There is supposed to be 7.8 billion people in the world this year. And yet, God calls me by name. He knows me personally. He knows the days when grief hits the hardest. He knows every tear I shed–every one! He recounts my hairs every morning after I shampoo it and several fall out. What an amazing God who wants that kind of personal relationship with ME! That is itself is a treasure. And it is a treasure you can have too.

Image result for isaiah 45:3

Today I am grateful for:

  • A beautiful sunshiny day after almost 2 inches of rain yesterday.
  • Zoom for the 3 Bible studies I have going during the pandemic.
  • The garden coming alive with life and blossoms.
  • God helping people re-prioritize their lives during the pandemic.
  • Being free of the virus at this point.
  • A great study of Abigail and a deep Beth Moore study.
  • Having enough money during this time to take care of my needs.
  • Church services online to keep us connected.
  • Our international students and how they enrich our lives.
  • The hidden treasures God keeps helping me find.
  • Knowing me by name!

My Book is Published!

Writing a book is quite a process. Actually, my writing part took only 4 months. But then the editing process began. I am thankful and blessed to have the 4 editors I did have. They were wonderful to help me make the book more readable and correct.

Next began the process of figuring out how to get the book published. My, oh my, what a project that has turned out to be. There are many vanity presses out there who will publish anything you want published–for a price. That price runs from $3,000 up to $10,000. So for now, it is on Amazon. You can click this link to order it in either paperback or Kindle version.

My book cover.

God has been using me and our story to help others already. One of the ladies I walk with at the gym said my book is powerful. She has a brother-in-law home bound and it has been helpful to her family. I attended a memorial for a widow in my boyfriend’s wife’s family last weekend. I was able to reach out to her in a meaningful way as well. God will use me as long as I am open to His bidding.

My grieving and healing are still ongoing. So many days, I miss something specific about Jerry. Other days, I just miss him in general. Yes, God has given me a full life with purpose and people in it, but there is and always will be an empty spot filled only by Jerry. I am thrilled he is not here for the virus craziness going on now as he would have been in the high-risk group for sure.

Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” When our governor gave his state of emergency address for Oklahoma, he ended with this verse. I feel blessed to have a governor who is a believer and not afraid to publicly acknowledge it. This is such a true scripture for our present day situation. As difficult as it is not to be anxious, God tells us not to be. He is still in control and will use the situation to bring good to us. Slowing down for everyone is good–more family time, more home time, just more time to focus on God and His goodness.

Today I am thankful for:

  • Spring is just around the corner!
  • The rain to make my garden grow.
  • The government restrictions to keep us safe.
  • My boyfriend and the joy of having a companion.
  • A comfortable house to wait out the virus.
  • Being healthy to minimize my risk for the virus.
  • My book being available on Amazon.
  • My editors to help the book be its best.
  • Church online and a group of 10 to worship with at my boyfriend’s house.
  • God being in control to help us not be anxious.

Please pray for my son-in-law’s income. With the coffee shop going to take out only, the NBA games he calls for being cancelled, and the church where he preaches Sunday nights being cancelled, his income is drastically cut. Pray for a quick end to the virus for all involved worldwide. Also pray for the safe travels Monday of our German exchange student, Lya, whose mother is flying her home. The virus is scaring everyone around the world and rightly so. Lya will be in a confined airplane Monday so pray for immunity for her.

Grieving in Year 3

Wow, it has been a long time since I wrote. The holidays were both busy and a time of remembering. Just because I haven’t written a blog entry in some time, don’t think my grieving is finished and behind me. Not in the least!

Grieving is a journey–a long journey. It is one you need reach the end of but just have stops along the way of remembering, crying, and being thankful for the life you had together. The being thankful for me is the greatest blessing in my grieving. I was married for 50 years. We shared a love and a commitment to each other that is foreign to so many couples in today’s temporary world. It is sad to be so different because we had a happy marriage of so many years. Yes, we had many differences but the commitment was there to always work on the marriage.

My boyfriend had told me year 2 was harder for him than year 1 and that was so true for me. The permanency of my life as a widow is so real to me now. I will never celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with Jerry again. He will always be remembered at these times but his presence is gone. As sad as that is, I am thankful for his new life in heaven with such joy and freedom from pain. Sitting at the feet of Jesus daily must be such a marvelous experience–beyond our imagination.

Thanksgiving was a time of sharing my home with many of our international students. We had students from Iran, Viet Nam, Taiwan, Ghana, Turkey, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Here is a picture of our group.

Activities like this keep me busy and not missing Jerry as much. He would have loved having all these people in our homes so very much. Reaching out to others helps keep yourself in better emotional shape.

Psalm 62:8“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” God has proven himself trustworthy at all times, during the stroke and now as a widow. He has never left me alone and never will. He has been and continues to be my refuge. Praise God for His presence in my life on a daily basis.

Today I am thankful for:

  1. Getting to drive to Tulsa to hear my grandson, David, sing with Norman Children’s Chorus.
  2. Having an early birthday dinner with Lynn in Tulsa before she flies out to Atlanta tomorrow for a conference.
  3. Hiking tomorrow at Little Niagara with my boyfriend and good friend, Kelly Ann.
  4. Dinner plans tomorrow night for my birthday at a very fancy restaurant with my boyfriend.
  5. The international students who are such a lovely part of my life here.
  6. My warm house on cold days.
  7. Plans for my trip to Ecuador and Vienna this year.
  8. Friends here to do things with and enjoy.
  9. A wonderful church home.
  10. Having a faithful and trustworthy God who is always there for me.

The Tears Never Stop!

It has been 21 months since my sweet guy left this earth to sing with the heavenly choir. So it has been 21 months for me to adjust to life without him, right? I am finding out the grieving process is never ending. There are very few days when tears don’t flow over something that triggers them. Yesterday, I went to a doctor’s appointment in the same building where I took Jerry so many times during those 22 months. Tears flowed as I entered the building. I passed a cemetery this afternoon and was reminded me of so many who have passed away–not just my sweet guy. I gave a talk on caregiving at church last Saturday which caused many tears in preparation just thinking about our lives together during that time. When I get in the car to go somewhere, the passenger seat is empty! The triggers are and will be never ending.

And yes, I have a boyfriend who is very sweet and great to hang out with on a regular basis. We enjoy each other’s company very much and talk about our spouses openly. His wife died in the same calendar year as Jerry but 10 months earlier. We understand each other. We are not trying to replace our spouses but to move forward with our grief and keep living. We serve others at church together, entertain together, go to the theater, concerts, out to dinner, and just sit together and hold hands. It is great, and I am very thankful I have him in my life. But the grieving continues, and I think it always will.

Psalm 27:1, 13-14 – ” 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

The Lord has been so good to me through all this. Even though the tears flow, he is still with me each day helping me through the tears, giving me sweet memories of our 50 years together. Waiting on the Lord has never been my strong suit, but I know He has only the best in mind for me. I only need to live today and enjoy today. The past is behind me and the future is not here yet.

So true!

Today I am thankful for:

  • Time with David–it is Tuesday and grandsons are great.
  • Wonderful rain last night to refresh my garden.
  • Beautiful sun peaking through the clouds this morning.
  • Lunch with Granny Annie, my traveling partner to Israel/Egypt last March.
  • Dinner with a good friend from church this evening.
  • A gathering planned for the international students next week at my boyfriend’s house.
  • Attending Fiddler on the Roof this Thursday. It will be great but also cause for many tears when they sing certain songs that Jerry sang so well.
  • A widows/widowers banquet at church this Sunday evening.
  • The peace I enjoy in the present.
  • God being the stronghold of my life.

Grief Comes from Love

Wow–it has been a long time since I wrote an entry in my blog. That does not mean my grieving has ended. Not in the least. I am well into my second year of being a widow but the tears still flow freely. It is different during the second year. All those difficult firsts are over and behind me. During the second year, however, the total permanence sets in hard. The first year is all new experiencing the first holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries without Jerry. This year, it hits hard that this is the way it is going to be throughout the rest of my life.

Here is a page from a grieving book I have titled In Loving Memory:

Why did this happen to me? we ask.
It happened partly because we were fortunate enough to have loved someone.
Without love there would be no grief. ~ June Cerza Kolf

Grieving has not been fun and does not end. However, it does help to be reminded that I grieve Jerry’s loss because I loved Jerry. Without love, there would be no reason to still be grieving almost 21 months after his death. I am so fortunate to have shared love with this great man of God. The love is worth the grief!

Isaiah 8:10 – “Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us.” Grief can be used by Satan to keep me down. He could use it to make me depressed and unable to keep living. Grief can cause widows to withdraw from life. However, I would rather focus on the fact that God is with me! He never left me–ever! Not even once during my 21 months have I felt alone. He was always there and always will be.

I have enjoyed my walking in my neighborhood so much this summer enjoying the morning sunrise. Here is a picture of one such beautiful mornings.

God’s beautiful mornings in my neighborhood.

Today I am thankful for:

  • Bible Study Fellowship starting today for the fall.
  • Going with the twins I have helped with since April 2018 to their second haircut–they are do adorable.
  • My sweet boyfriend who helps me walk through the journey of grief.
  • Gorgeous sunrises with amazing colors.
  • The beauty in my garden.
  • The serenity in my garden.
  • Our OU international students this year. I have one from the Republic of Moldovia, France, Netherlands, and Iran.
  • Tuesdays with David continuing.
  • A new friend at church–Gail.
  • The love I had to cause me to grieve.
  • God never leaving me–EVER!

Memory Trip to Wisconsin/ Minnesota

What a wonderful trip I had venturing down memory lane with friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin the last 2 weeks of June. This year I was able to revisit places where Jerry and I had gone and replay the memories. Yes, it was still very painful but not unbearable. It is good to be able to be in some of the same places doing some of our favorite things we had done as a couple.

Among the places visited were Winona, Wabasha, Kellogg, and Red Wing, Minnesota. My friend, Mara, went with me to see the National Eagle Center, the Anderson Hotel where Jerry and I stayed for one of my birthdays, the Carousel Shops, and just seeing the beauty of the Mississippi. I also went kayaking on the Mississippi with Paul and Mara. Then Mara and Deb went with me to hike up to Brady’s Bluff in Perrot State Park giving a beautiful view of the river from the top of the bluffs. The warming hut at the top had no bats sleeping through the day which was sad realizing the affect of the white-nose syndrome that has killed so many of them.

Here are some pictures of my adventures.

Kayaking on the peaceful river.
Brady’s Bluff
National Eagle Center in Wabasha, MN

Psalm 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
God has never let me down through the caregiving and now through being a widow. He provides what I need including the strength I need to continue my life. Being able to count on that from God means a lot to me. I never have to face tomorrow alone but know the strength I need will be there for me.

Today I am thankful for:

  • My garden and the beauty God continues to send me.
  • My family to get together with here for meals and other activities.
  • The coffee shop we are working on remodeling to open on the Oklahoma University campus this fall.
  • The international students who are in our lives here.
  • All the wonderful friends I saw in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
  • My hostess in Minnesota, Deb who I worked with at La Crescent.
  • Getting to speak at Rotary on some things one of the Iranians shared with me about differences.
  • Kayaking on the Mississippi–wow, how beautiful!
  • The beauty of the bluffs in the La Crosse, WI area.
  • The church there is growing with their new minister.
  • God being dependable and my strength every day! Praise Him for that.

This song I found to be very meaningful to me, especially the second verse talking about when I am alone.