Piece by Piece


Piece by piece!  is what I thought as I looked at my husband’s reloading desk, the last of “his” areas to be cleaned out. Everything else in Phil’s cave had been moved, sold, or given away over the past 31 months.  His desk was the heart of that cave. A corner so familiar and special to me, it shouted out his name whenever I came near. I can still see him sitting there bent over his work. He enjoyed making special loads for his long-range rifles. He would twirl his chair around and look at me over the top of his glasses when I would enter to speak to him. The tools he used for so many hours still lie there. But, yes, it was time to move on. 

We all have to come to the place in our hearts when we know it’s time to “take care of” our beloved’s possessions. I have done this little by little. I took my first big step when I had what I called “a man’s yard sale.” Unfortunately, I realized too late that I wasn’t ready to part with my husband’s “toys.”  As men came and made purchases or even tried to bargain for better prices, I regretted having the sale to part with Phil’s things so quickly.

I do feel that each widow should consider carefully removing her late husband’s belongings. If you don’t need to sell them to help pay bills, wait until you’re sure you’re ready. Just don’t rush into it.

I couldn’t part with my husband’s clothes for quite some time. I removed them from the closet after just a few months, but I kept them until it didn’t hurt so badly to see them or to move them out. Even then, I sometimes gave them to my daughters and asked them to do it for me. I still have Phil’s housecoat and a few special shirts, and I’ve found I can use some of his heavy outdoor items for myself. Little by little I do notice I no longer feel the need to keep some items that months ago were near and dear to me.

I’ve kept a small drawer with a few special things of Phil’s that I’ll always keep as a memory. I also have a little display box with some items that I treasure and my daughters or grandchildren may like to have someday.

Now after almost three years since Phil’s homegoing, I’m tackling this special corner of his, which was once his private spot. As I look at the almost empty desk, I feel like more of him has gone. But it’s time. He no longer needs the things of this earth, and I must move on also. As I work on clearing out the area, I still feel like he’s going away, as well, piece by piece.  However, he’s already been gone for 31 months.

Phil is no longer a part of this life, and I’ve just entered another stage of letting go. As I look at the handwritten notes he had attached to the file cabinet next to the desk, I start to remove them.

But then…suddenly, I realize, it’s not time yet.

It still needs to be done piece by piece.

Phil's den picture (1)

Advertisements

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.

God’s Umbrella of Love and Protection


As I hear the thumping of my grandchildren’s feet running down the hill and across my back yard or I hear the back yard gate slam shut, I am reminded of God’s love and protection for me.

Often circumstances that look bleak or unfortunate to us are really God working out His gracious plan for us. When circumstances forced my daughter, son-in-law, and children to move from Arizona to Pennsylvania, all we could see was the rough- knotted side of the tapestry. We had no idea that on the other side of the tapestry, the side that God sees, a beautiful pattern was being formed.

After we heard the words, “He will have months,” referring to my husband’s prognosis, it was comforting to hear the pounding of hammers and other construction noises coming from a new home being built in field behind our house. While God was transitioning my husband closer to heaven, he was also planting my daughter’s family right next door.  Someone would always be close by to look out for me.

Many times I feel like God has put an umbrella of love and protection over me when I sit in my living room and know that in a matter of minutes family members someone would be at my door if I needed them. Friends often say, “Isn’t it amazing how we can look back and see how God had all of that planned?”

Yes, thank you, God, for always looking after me.

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

Ponderings at Thanksgiving


As Thanksgiving approaches I think of so many things I could thank God for. First and foremost I thank Him for my salvation. I thank Him for loving me just the way I am and for sending His son to pay the penalty for my sins. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to hear of Jesus and the leading to give myself to Him at the age of 16.

I am thankful that God led my husband and myself to each other later on in that year. He too was a Christian. I have come to realize that God gave Him to me for a season. As much as I wish our time together as husband and wife could have been many years longer, I still am so thankful that God allowed us those 32 years together. After my husband became ill, he apologized to me saying he was sorry I married someone who “was sick”. Naturally I told him I did not feel that way at all. I am thankful that I was the one that God ALLOWED to marry him. The Bible says , “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me” , or in other words, “He will fullfil His purpose for me.” God fulfilled His will for my husband and will continue to fill His will for me.

My house sits on a hilly piece of  land.  I do not have to walk very far to be uphill where I can look down and see most of our property. Each time I look back down from the top of our yard I am thankful for the way my husband provided for me.  I realize that he worked hard for that provision and to give me this security. My home is not a new home, but it is comfortable and I am secure. In many ways I feel like he made me safe and secure in my earthly home before he moved on ahead to our heavenly home.

I am very thankful that God has surrounded me with my family. They are very close both in proximity and in our relationships together. He has also provided me with a wonderful caring church family. Aside from my Lord, I would never have made it this far down my journey of grieving if it were not for all of them.

Although I could write all night on the things I am thankful for, I will end with this last thing. I am thankful that I will never be alone. God promises He “will never leave me nor forsake me.”  Hebrews 13:5.  In Isaiah 54:4-5 it says “… for thy Maker is thine husband…” in reference to widows. So with those thoughts in my mind I say, “Praise be to the Lord for all His goodness and mercy He hath bestowed upon me.”  I could never thank the Lord God enough for what He has done for me!