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.

The Hole of Grief

I found this quote and really like it: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” ~~ Dr. Seuss

This is where I truly believe I am in my grieving process. When visiting a high school dear friend in Dallas a few weeks ago, she shared her thoughts about grief. Her husband lost his battle with cancer a few years back. She said grief is a hole in your life. It can never be filled and your life moves around the hole. Wow–that is profound for the way I am feeling. My 50-year marriage to Jerry was a huge blessing to me. The hole he left could never be filled by anyone except Jerry. Does that mean I can never have a relationship with anyone else? Not at all. It just means the relationship would be different totally from what I had with Jerry.

I am truly smiling because I had a 50-year marriage with Jerry and even because I had the amazing 22 months in his caregiving. Yes, I did say I am smiling because the 22 months happened. It was such a blessing to be able to end my marriage with a special time of loving and pampering my sweet guy.

This does not mean I don’t cry at times over his death. Of course I do. However, I choose to focus on all the good of our life together rather than on what I am now missing in my life. Jerry’s hole is always in my life and always will be. What a blessing he was not only to my life but to the lives of so many others. I am smiling Jerry and I know you are too (between songs!).

God also gives me my garden to smile at His creations every day. Here is a picture of my garden this year.

God’s Beauty at it best!

I Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God knows my grief, loves me through the grief, and is giving me a new life along with the grief. He is the one who helps me smile because I experienced life with Jerry and holds me while I cry through the difficult days. How marvelous to know He truly does care for me.

Today I am thankful for:

  • The beauty of my garden.
  • Smiling because of the joy of my life with Jerry.
  • Living my life around the hole Jerry left.
  • Enjoying the time spent with my boyfriend as he lives around the hole left by his wife.
  • Sunshine coming after being in the monsoon season here in Oklahoma.
  • Memorial Day dinner was great for about 18 at my boyfriend’s house.
  • Enjoying my roommate for the summer, 18-year old Isa, a student intern at Tim’s coffee shop this summer.
  • Delicious mashed cauliflower last Friday night, a new dish for me to make.
  • Also delicious chess pie, another a new dessert for me to make.
  • God’s care for me every day of my life and wanting to take my anxiety on His broad shoulders.

Pray for my sister’s family. She passed away May 11 in Boerne, Texas. It is still hard to imagine she is no longer in my life.