A New Year


To many of you reading this blog, the start of a new year brings sadness. It may be the first new year you have entered without your loved one. It is another dreaded first. It seems strange to realize that you are going to be living in a year that he or she never will.

To others it may represent a new year in which you can try to put the past year behind you. This new year may stand for a year without fresh sorrow or grief.

Some people comment that it is just a new date. It means nothing to them. One thing is certain, time will always continue on. There will always be a new second, hour, month and year. That is, until we reach Heaven where there is no sense of time.

We have no choice but to keep putting one foot forward. In Philippians 3:13-14 we read, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus .” We all need to keep pressing forward. With God’s help and with Him walking beside us, I hope we can all keep moving forward and looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2014.

May God bless you, Kathy

My third Christmas


This was my third Christmas without my beloved. I remember when my first Christmas was approaching. I declared to my daughters that I would not be decorating that year. However, as the days passed, I began to think of my small grandchildren and how I wanted to impact them. I had been telling them that it was a wonderful gift for their pap to have been able to go to heaven. They knew I missed him and that I was sad, but I wondered if I may give them the wrong message if I did not decorate at all. I decided in order for me to be able to decorate, I would have to change some things. My husband and I had always purchased a live tree, so I invested in an artificial tree. I also bought new ornaments. As far as the rest of the house, I decorated some, but not my usual amount.

My second Christmas seemed to be a little easier. I still grieved but not as strongly. I again used different ornaments. New Christmas traditions were starting to form between my daughters’ families and me.

This year brought me to the third Christmas. I was surprised to find myself actually worse than last year. I had read that for some widows the third year of grieving is the hardest. Unfortunately, I have found this to be true for me. I entered my third year of widowhood on June 4th of this year. In some ways, I have grieved harder this year than last year. I do not cry as often, but my husband’s birthday hit me hard this year just as the holidays have. For some reason, it reassures me to know that I am not the only one to which this has happened.

As I dealt with my feelings of grief over the past couple weeks, I have tried to find a balance for myself. I feel that we should not fight our grieving. However, I feel that I have reached a place where I need to help myself to keep moving forward. I can’t embrace my sorrow. I need to direct my steps forward as I continue to seek God’s will.

I am glad that our God is a God that cares.   Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” I pray you have the comfort that God can give as well.

Kathy

Feel free to share how your holidays were for you. I would love to hear from you.

God’s Goodness in Our Lives


Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to all that love God….” How can good come from the loss of a husband? As I prayed about how to explain this to the ladies at my church, I found it harder to explain to others than it was to believe it in my heart.  This verse does not mean it is good for a woman to lose her husband.  It does, however, mean that since all things work together for good, God can work good things into our lives even through the loss of a husband.

As I was searching how to approach this subject I read online about the Harm’s family. They were told that their baby would be born with a rare chromosome abnormality. This couple searched their hearts to learn how this problem with their precious child could possibly work for good. They loved God and knew that He is good. The new father said that one day after his baby was born the light bulb went on. He was able to see how God was taking care of them through their trial and how He had been faithful to them. He recognized that having this child in his life made him depend on God in a way he never would have.

As time went on, this family had another beautiful baby. After many bouts of sickness and seizures, they learned that she had a rare disease called Alexander’s disease. Through this new grief, just before she passed away, the Holy Spirit reminded them of that same truth again. God is good. They knew that God would be with them. Just as it was unexplainable to their minds how a baby dying can be for good, it is unexplainable to me how a husband dying can be good. But as this family accepts it, I also accept it. I know that if it were better, if it would bring more glory to God to have their baby here, or my husband here, then both would still be here. As God revealed to the Harm’s that their lives were touched by God’s faithfulness, that He has always been good, I too, as a widow have been able to realize this truth. The fact that He never fails to direct me has strengthened my faith and has given me peace through my loss.

I will admit that for a while I could not see beyond my sorrow. I wanted my old life back. But as I allowed God to heal me and to work in me, I saw how He was using my loss for good. Once again, I do not mean that it is good that Phil is gone and that I am a widow. But through that trial, God has worked in my life for good. When God handed me widowhood, He gradually handed me other things as well.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:11).

God has shown His goodness to me over and over. He filled my arms with a new grandbaby. He surrounded me with loving children and grandchildren, not to mention my church family.

He moved my daughter and her family not only to Pennsylvania, from Arizona, but right next door to me.

He has filled my heart and life with joy.

God prompted me to start this blog and reach out to other widows. He has used this blog to truly bless me and to bring other widows into my pathway. God has allowed me to reach out to many people who are hurting for various reasons. I think of one person that is living one of the worst nightmares I can think of, but as I read his blog and see how he praises the Lord, I am blessed richly. Without my trials and heartache I would never have had this opportunity. Writing this blog has truly enriched my life. I can add this ministry as one of many ways that God has fulfilled His promise of good in my life.

I dragged my feet about going to a Christian Writers’ Conference a few months ago. However, I knew that for some reason God wanted me to go, and He provided the finances. While there I met a sweet Christian lady, who is an author. She also works for a company that has an online devotional site. She was looking for others to help write devotions for this site. She was willing to work with me if I would send her my devotions. There is no monetary pay; it is considered as tithe to the Lord.  I do not have God – given talent to write anything. But when God prompts me to write something, whether it is another posting for my blog or another devotional, He always gives me the words to write. That in itself is a huge blessing.

God worked good in Phil’s life by rewarding him with eternal bliss in Heaven. I can share with confidence that God has used that trial in my life to continually bless me as well with good things in my life.

How has God used your loss to bring good into life? Share your trial and God’s goodness here. I look forward to hearing from you. Let’s continue to look for God’s goodness.

Kathy

Twenty-six Months into My Widowhood Journey


The further I travel on the road of widowhood, the clearer the picture becomes of my husband’s present state. With that realization the picture of his last days on earth becomes dimmer each day. Instead, I have a constant visualization of him being just behind the veil. The veil is what I  like to call the separation between heaven and earth.

Two months into my third year of his passing on, I still miss him very much and think of him often throughout each day. But, now when I think of him it is not with sorrow, instead the thoughts come to me because he is still a part of me. After 42 years of marriage he is intertwined with my thoughts and decisions. I have learned that I have to control my thoughts. If I start to entertain thoughts of his last days, or other sorrowful thoughts of the years of his illness, I realize that I have to stop myself. I am past needing to go through those thoughts for healing and for learning to deal with those times. I now am to the point that the only purpose those thoughts fulfill is to pull me back into sorrow. I know that he has just left his earthly tabernacle and moved into his house “not made with hands.” II Corinthians 5:1 says, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” That is where I need to picture him. He is in Glory Land, where I will be someday also.

As I go through my day, my husband is right there in my mind’s eye. He is not really that far away from me at all. As Christian’s, our ultimate victory has been to one day stand before our Savior and Lord. God allowed Phil to see Jesus face to face much sooner than any of us expected. However, I know that one day I, too, will be in the same place as Phil is, standing before my Lord.

Will I still ever shed tears again now that my husband is gone over two years? Yes, I am sure I will. But I’ll shed them because I miss him, not because I grieve for him. One day, I will meet him again never to be separated throughout eternity’s endless time.

A Anniversary Letter to my Husband


Good morning,  honey,

The sun is shining brightly this morning, and the birds are singing. There are lots of  flowers blooming outside. You know how I love spring! A morning like this warms my soul.  God gave us such a beautiful earth. What beauty you must be enjoying in Heaven! I praise the Lord for His wonderful love and goodness! While feeling this joy, I realize that I have a still, small sadness trying to creep inside my soul. May 10th keeps popping into my head. Yes, we would have been celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary this week! Even before I realized it, this sadness was creeping in. However, this year I can say that I have sadness, not sorrow. Last year I felt very sorrowful. There is a difference between the two feelings, and I am so thankful that God has brought me through the deepest of the waters and I am now on the shoreline.

I can’t help but think, “How nice it would have been to have if we could have been together and one day celebrated our 50th wedding Anniversary.” But then my thoughts turn around to realize that to be in God’s will is the only way to have real happiness. You are now in “fullness of all joy”  forever. Psalm 16:11 says, ” …in thy presence is fulness of joy….”  However, I know that this verse applies to me also. As I read this entire verse, ” Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of  joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore,”  I take these words to heart. If I strive to live daily in His presence, I can always have that joy He promises.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, ” For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  I am very thankful that God allowed me to have you for my husband. Our marriage was not perfect,  as no one’s is. But we loved each other deeply. I know that God fulfilled His purpose for you down here on earth, and He now has a further purposefor me. He gave me those precious married years, but He has a plan for me now as a widow. I strive daily to walk in His will and to be sensitive to His plan for me now.

Thank you, honey,  for choosing me as your wife and for being by my side all  those years we had together. You are still my hubby.

We may not live together any more, but my heart is still tied to yours. I love you very much.

Yours forever, Kathy

New hope


As spring approaches each year, it always makes me think of new life and hope. As a person works his way through grief, it sometimes feels likes they will never rise above it.

Much of God’s beautiful creation does not show its’  “face” until springtime arrives. As we experience a long, cold winter we see only barren ground and bare trees. Then one day we notice little buds on the trees and tiny shoots coming up towards the light.  The sun shines a little brighter and a little longer. Seeing new life bursting forth, we realize that they things in nature aren’t dead, and they’re not something to toss aside. Instead, they are displaying God’s perfect order of His creation. In the spring they come forth fresh and invigorated again. They have completed one of God’s intended cycles of life. All of these signs I see in spring renew my hope, and I know that I also can come forth with an invigorated spirit.

Another reminder of this hope that comes with springtime is the hope that Easter brings us. Our hope isn’t in whether the sun shines, or flowers bloom. Our hope is in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is because of Him that we have hope. Because He was crucified on the cross for our sins and rose again the third day we can have hope! We know that He sits at the right hand of God the Father. We know that all of His promises will be fulfilled and are being fulfilled every day.  “Because He lives that I can face tomorrow!”

This will be my second spring without my beloved Phil. However, when I think of him, I not only have hope, but I have full assurance that he too lives. He lives in a place that is beyond our human words of description. He’s been rewarded fullness of all joy! How do I know that?

I know that because God promises that if we trust in Him, and believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, if we believe that He truly did take our sins to the cross, and rose again the third day, we will live  eternally with Him. My husband did confess with His mouth that Christ is Lord and believed in Him.

I also know that not only does God love my husband, but he also loves me. God has a plan for me also. At this time of the year I am reminded that as long as I continue to love and follow my Savior and Lord, I can always rise above my loss. He promises in Isaiah 43:2 that He will never let the waters overtake you.  I can rise above my loss if I trust Him and allow Him to take my hand and lead me.

Not only does God have an intricate plan for the nature He created for us, but He also has a plan for each one of His children. When God fulfilled His plan for our loved ones and allowed them to go to His glorious home, He did not forget us. He has a plan for each one of us who remain. “I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He put a new song in my mouth…” Psalm 40: 1-3. I feel excitement with this new season coming upon us, and can rest in peace as I walk each day in His plan for me!

My prayer for each of you who are grieving is that you will be able to feel hope in the midst of your sorrow. God has not forgotten you.

For those of you who do not have Christ as your Savior, and therefore, can have no peace, my prayer is that you will look to the cross and receive Him this Easter season. It was during the Easter season many years ago that I received my faith. You can have the hope that only Christ can give.  I pray that you will seek Him now.

*Feel free to email me if I can be of help to you. Christ said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37*

Celestial Shore


Think of stepping on shore and finding it Heaven!

Of taking hold of a hand and finding it God’s,Reminds us of heaven

Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial air,

Of feeling invigorated, and finding it immortality,

Of passing from storm and tempest to an unbroken calm,

Of waking up, and finding it Home!

Anonymous

The words above were sung at my son’s funeral. They were such a comfort to me. Just imagine it! You reach out to a hand and realize it is the Lord’s! You go from this life that is full of trouble to absolute continuous peace and calm. Home forever! I Peter 1:17 says that we are just traveling through this world. Our stay here in this world is temporary. We are just passing through while we await our turn to go to our real home, the celestial shore.  What comfort and joy this can give us! Our loved ones just travel on a little sooner than us. One day if we have Christ as our Lord and Savior we will travel on also and rejoin them. There will be no more separation, pain or sorrow. No loneliness.

My son’s death was sudden. One minute he was driving and the next he was breathing celestial air. One minute he was clutching the steering wheel, and in the next instant he was holding God’s hand. There is no way to describe  the joy he had to feel.

As my husband was dying, he opened his eyes three times to look up and over at someone waiting for him on “the other side.” Just a few minutes after he shut his eyes the last time, he was gone from his earthly body and opened them the final time to see the face  of  Jesus. He too, stepped onto the celestial shore, and I believe he was embraced by our son whom he missed so much.

As we await our reunion with our beloved husbands, it is a comfort to us if we picture them as they stepped on that heavenly shore. We can look with anticipation for our own  time of “passing from the storm and tempest to an unbroken calm.”  Until that time we need to continue to follow Jesus one step at a time.  He will lead us on the right pathway if we allow Him.  May God bless you.

Kathy

Why, God?


The following is an excerpt from my book “God Never Fails.” This section is talking about the time God taught me not to ask why.

“Kiersten has acute leukemia.”

My sister’s devastating words were on the other end of that phone call.  Kiersten was my beloved niece who was just four years old. During the year that followed, my sister and family lived in the vicious cycle of that big “C” world.

Since my husband and I lived 98 miles from my family, we watched and suffered with them from a distance as their daughter fought for her life. We watched as she lost her hair and grew new, dark, curly hair in its place. We watched, from afar, as that sweet  angelic child went through painful treatments far from home. I watched while she and her mother lived in hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses for weeks at a time, leaving the other three children with our parents. Kiersten’s father divided his time between work, home chores, and staying with his daughter at the hospital.

We heard how little “Ki-Ki” braved the storm that lay before her. One time she stood up front in her church and sang “Jesus Loves Me” all by herself before leaving for her bone marrow transplant. Did she know it would be her last time in her beloved church?  A few weeks later, we listened to my sister telling us that the child was suffering inhumanly while her body fought against itself, rejecting the transplant. Yet, we were in awe to also hear how she and her parents continued to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and other favorite songs in the midst of that suffering.

Late one night, we received a call from my sister asking us to “pray for God to take Kiersten home.” The next morning she was in her Savior’s arms.

It was at that time that I cried out to God, “Why? Why? Why did you have to take her? Why didn’t you heal her?” As I sit at my desk now, I can visualize the exact place I was when I heard my Lord whisper in my heart, “You would not understand if I were to tell you.”

Instantly, the Bible verse Proverbs 3: 5: “Lean not unto thine own understanding …” became very clear to me. “Your mind is too finite,” he whispered in my heart. I fully understood then, as I do now, that our finite, small minds, much more like an ant’s brain compared to God’s, simply can’t understand the events our God has planned. We must only trust because we never could understand even if he were to tell us the “why” of every situation.

It is very natural for us to wonder why things happen to us or our loved ones. There is nothing wrong in asking this. However, we need to be careful to trust our Lord that although in most circumstances God’s ways just do not make sense to us, He makes no mistakes. The verse above reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”  Isaiah 55:8 & 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” God loves us more than we could ever imagine. He can only do good.

When my husband went home to be with His Lord, I never asked God why. I had settled that issue so many years ago with the death of little “Ki-Ki,” and I never felt the need to ask that question again. We all need to find peace in our hearts that we can trust the Lord. Then we can hold His hand with the trust and faith of a child. It is then that God can lead us on the uncertain and new paths that lie before us.

I pray that you do all have this trust. Please feel free to contact me if you so desire. I would welcome the opportunity to be able to talk with you. You can contact me through the comments section below or via email, kbellows60@yahoo.com

Kathy

“Call Back!”


I have been praying about what to write to you as it nears Christmas time. During my devotions this morning I decided to pull out my 1979 edition of  “Streams in the Desert,'” by Mrs. Charles Cowman.  The devotional I read for today reminded me why I write this blog. I write it because I feel God wants me to “call back.”

I am sure I wrote about that topic before. Luke 21:13 says, “And it shall turn unto you as a testimony.” Here Jesus is talking to His disciples about all the trials they will go through. He tells them they will be as a testimony for them. We too have our sorrow and trials to use as a testimony of the way God always walks with us if we love Him and turn to Him. That gives the connotation of calling back to others to help their rough road that is ahead of them.

I have realized that all of us are at different places in our journey of grief. Some are farther down the road than I am and some of you are newbies. As I compare my first Christmas in 2011 to this  Christmas I can see that I have had alot of healing and growing during the past year. I often sat down and wr0te a letter “to my husband” during my down times.

I am going to share portions of last year’s letter which was written two days before Christmas. Since it is a personal letter to my soul-mate I will not include the entire letter. I am sure you understand why.

December 23rd. (5 1/2 months into my journey)

I miss you so much. You were a gem… I did not always appreciate you. But we loved each other dearly. I want to clarify here that my husband took an early retirement due to his health. Therefore, we had his last two to three years with more time together. I went on to write… I am so thankful that we had the last 2 or 3 years together. Even though I know you were sick, we had so much time together. I know it is selfish of me, but if I could have you back here, even on the couch, taking care of you, I would love it. I’d rub your feet, your legs, and your hands to help with your pain just as I did then. But I know that is no way for anyone to have to live. You deserved to be able to go to Heaven and really start living! I know God will help me through this. You would not want to come back to earth. Even though you loved your family so much, I try to remember that fact. Why would you want to come back? Who would want to leave his Lord and Master? I know we will be together again some day.

I wonder if I am just starting my grief. Was I numb before? I say this because it seems to hurt so much more now. Maybe I am in a different stage now. I don’t know. I go through the day “pep” talking myself. ( Here I listed all the many things that he always did here at the house that I, at the time of this writing, still had to remind myself to do. I shared how, when I slip, I try to do better. I then went on to write of the many things he did that he did not need to do, but he had spoiled me and did them anyway. I wrote…) I miss not having you here keeping my car clean inside and out and always pumping my gas. I miss our bed time ritual. I say to the dogs, “Well, are you ready to go up?” when it is bedtime…like we used to say to each other.

I continued to write and to thank him for the way he always took care of me and told him how I can still look around and realize that his care was still carried over to that day. I told him things I had changed or did at the house since his passing.  I told him how I am learning to become more independent so I do not need to lean so heavily on others.

Then I closed by telling him that I still love him very much and that he is still with me in my heart and mind at all times. I then wrote,  “I know you are where you belong, and I am happy for you. I know I am where I belong also. It is just very hard to accept. Knowing what is best and being able to handle that fact are not always the same. Sometimes it does not seem real.”  (I then shared some personal things and continued with the following…) I know I will keep on keeping on. I hope I can get more strength and not collapse like this so often. I know that death is a victory. It allows you to be with the Lord. It is just a transition from better to best. My problem is that I wish I did not have to be left behind. However, I realize that our God knows best and that I must accept it and go on. If you know anything about what is going on down here, please ask God to give me more strength and to dry my tears. I know now why grief is called a “journey” or, as I just read in a book,  “one foot in front of the other each day.”

As I reread that letter, I became aware of the fact that now, just a few days shy of one year of writing this letter, I can call back. I can call back to those of you who are near, or even just past, that stage. I no longer wish my husband back. I have that settled in my mind and heart. I can picture him in heaven with my son praising our Lord. I long to be in that place myself, but I am content to fulfill God’s will for me down here. I have almost mastered taking over his role around this house and have also learned when to delegate it t0 someone else  (at quite a cost I might add!) I still love him very much and carry him in my heart and mind daily. However, I can do so without so much pain. The pain is usually now best described as twinges that come and go. I do still have occasional times of breaking down, but they are much fewer and I would describe those times as getting weepy instead crying.

God has been healing me daily. This year I have accepted invitations to my church friends’  homes and have gone to church functions. Last year to go alone was too painful and awkward. So you see, I indeed can call back and tell you that the journey does get better. God does fulfill His promises. You will smile and laugh again, and you will even enjoy decorating your house again! Hang tightly to Jesus’ hand as you travel through these holidays. He will bring you through them and you will continue on your journey to healing. Joy does come in the morning! (Psalm 30:5)

God bless you and Merry Christmas!

Quiet my heart Lord


10-31-1012  written during a battle…of sorrow…won with the Lord.

Oh my soul, why art thou dishearten within me?

Knowest thou not that God is with me? Do not look back! Keep your hands to the plow and your face forward! Or better yet, heavenward. How can one feel so calm in their spirit for days, even weeks, and then fall so far in the other direction? Why does my heart suddenly yearn for my loved one so very deeply tonight?

Why did my mind take me back to the days, weeks, just prior to my dearest husband’s death? Why did I need to remember the night I sat up on the couch and sobbed loudly, awakening him from deep sleep? Why must I remember that sweet man, rising from his couch to shuffle over to me try to comfort me? Or why must I remember the time I started quietly crying in the restaurant after his last treatment? I can hear him now responding to my apology, “It’s alright. I would be the same if I were you.”

Did I say all of the things I feel now would have been important to have said? But does it really matter? Why must I allow Satan to torment me? My soul, arise up and pick the torch back up. Continue to be a comforter, not one that needs comforted. Know that you have loved and been loved, and that is one of the greatest gifts here on earth. Know that you are surrounded by the extension of that love daily by his children and grandchildren. You have been left comfortable and well taken care of. You can look everywhere and see where your beloved’s  hand has been and where he left a reminder of himself. Faint not. Forge on ahead and continue to pave the path for others to walk on after you too are gone.

All the possessions left here will deteriorate unused. But the memories, the love, the example in dying, will be remembered in my heart and soul for as long as I am still here.

God, lift me up again, that I may hold my head high and forge forward again. Please give me wisdom in all areas of life. Keep my path straight. Thank you Lord, for giving me all your promises and for fulfilling them day by day.  Thank you for never failing me.  My soul is lighter once again, Lord.  I will praise your holy name forever.