Firsts-Wedding Anniversary

I married Steve on December 10th, 2005.Today, we would have celebrated 12 years of marriage and over 14 years of being together.

We got married at church, and had a potluck reception at the home that he was living in, and I was moving into. Moving into an already established family (three of his five kids were still living at home) was not easy on me. But I loved him and gave it everything that I had.

It has only been just over 7 months since he went to Heaven. Originally, I dreaded the coming of this date. But now that it is  here, I realize the amount of comfort that God has given me.

I remember how hard it was to just be still on the outside, while inside; I was so scared. I wanted to do something. I wanted to run, screaming; due to the panic that I felt that I was unable to help the man that I loved.

People who looked on, still tell me that they were amazed at how I walked through it as it unfolded. There are those who even suggested that I was on tranquilizers. I was not, I knew that I needed to be still, and hang on to Jesus in a way that I never had before.

During that time, God told me that He would walk me through it, and that He was going to do a new thing in me; and He has. In ways that I would have never imagined.

He has opened my eyes to others who need more help than I do, and I have used my pain as a catalyst to help others.
Some have suggested that I am not grieving properly. That is not so. They have not seen me in the long hours of the night as I learn to sleep alone. They are not there when I have waken myself up crying from a  bad dream with no one to comfort me.

But I know that I have made a choice; a choice to continue to hold on to-no- to cling to my Lord. He knew what I would go through before it happened, and He knows what I feel even better than I know now.

I choose to look around me, and see those who need my encouragement rather than to look at my own problems. Here is what I have found. When I say or do something that encourages others; there is a peace and joy that fills my heart. Happiness floods my brain, and the love and appreciation that comes back to me is indescribable.

But there is something else that is happening for the first time in my life. There are others in my life now who are making it a point to love on me, and encourage me. I am accepting this new love that is rushing towards me. Then in turn I show these new people love and appreciation.

My eyes are open to-and I am seeing for the first time in my life what it is to be a part of a big circle of encouragement, love and appreciation that is flowing through me. It flows into me, strengthens me and flows out of me; onto others.

God is indeed doing what He told me that He would do. He is doing a new thing in me. Look up Numbers 23:19 and see the promise there.

After saying all this; there are some who would read and say “Donna, you must not have truly loved Steve to be able to recover so quickly”

My answer to them especially his family who are still in different stages of grief than I…

Please read very carefully. I loved Steve like I have never loved. He told me that he never loved anyone the way that he loved me. I miss him very much. What he and I went through together during his final days still haunts my dreams, and causes me to wake up crying.

But, Steve is in Heaven. He is watching ballgames, going to yard sales, and planting roses. He is doing all the things that brought him joy. He is with Jesus, he is feeling joy like he has never known.

I am here and I have a choice to make. I can be angry, and find someone to blame for my pain. I can wear sack cloth and ashes, crying to anyone who will listen-or I can connect with others. I can lean on Jesus, and listen for the sound of His voice in my life. I can allow those who will encourage me to do so.

Steve is so happy where he is, that he would not come back given the chance, and I would not be selfish enough to ask. But–Steve I love you. Happy Anniversary.

 

 

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Dancing to Chase the Blues Away

Steve and I met at a Christian single’s dance that came together every Friday.

Steve was not the best dancer, but I did not care. He really did not want to dance, he was there to play scrabble in the corner with some older ladies.  But I coaxed him out, encouraged him, and let him know that I just wanted to have fun; and we did.

Once we were married; we continued dancing-but not with the singles. We were invited by some friends who lived in retirement resorts. Those places really rock-well maybe swing is the more appropriate word. They hire live bands, and there is a dance every week during the off season, and every day during the snow bird season.

People come from all over the U.S. and Canada to East Mesa; from October to April to enjoy the swimming pools, golf and dancing. We have Big Band Music, Polka, Latin and Country to choose from.

In my singles class at church, there is a group that goes dancing to the same places that Steve and I went to. We connect via text to let each other know about lessons, dances or places with a dance floor.

You know what? I am a hard working girl who works hard at home too.

It is time to dust off my dancing boots.

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Finishing Well

When we had Steve’s funeral, I was amazed at all the people that showed up. Steve had many friends, and it was such a comfort to me to see how many came to show their love.

So when a new friend recently passed away, though I did not know him well; I attended the funeral.

This man was a strong Christian and a true servant to so many. The service was packed with people that lined up to say wonderful things about him.

This man also passed away from pancreatic cancer, and did not have long to prepare. But the theme was that this man wanted to “finish well”. It was obvious that he did.

It really made me think. As I learn to live my new life without Steve, I want to find out what it means for Donna to “finish well”. I know that I love Jesus, I love people and that I am a natural encourager. On my tombstone, I would want it to say “She loved others”.

I am using this post to finish the official story of Steve’s passing and segway into my new life, and how I will continue to “Share the Abundance of my life“.

I will share the stories here as God gives them to me. Not to brag, but to encourage others. I think that deep down, we all would like to serve and encourage others; but maybe we are shy and just do not know how.

Maybe these posts will help someone out there, reach past their pain to serve and encourage someone else.

In that serving, they too will again find their joy as I am finding mine.

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The Girls Are In

I called a couple of my closest friends from church last night.

I wanted to discuss my thoughts about “helping each other heal”. How boys and girls should help each other like friends and family instead of just trying to connect with a future.

The girls that I called love to cook, so they loved the idea. So here we go. I will talk to the singles pastor today about it, then come (after bowling) to make a big pot of chili for tomorrow’s singles gathering.

Today in bible study, I will chat some more people up about the idea.

This may flop-but it could turn out to be fun. If nothing  else, we will make new friends.

Hooray for Sharing Life’s Abundance!

 

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Helping Each Other Heal

So I have talked about serving others in order to heal myself, and allowing others to serve me. I have talked about boys and girls (men and women) learning to be friends. We are all just a big group of hurting kids after all. Then there is the fact that you all know that I love building community.

Well in this post, I am putting it all together.

In my singles church group; there are people who need help, and there are people who have too much time (and talent) on their hands. Mostly, there are both. There are men who would love a home cooked meal, help with their kids or some one to help clean the house. There are women who need their “honey do” lists checked off.

So here we go. I’ve got this. Men, get out your tool belts. Ladies, rattle those pots and pans. Now I am of course speaking in general terms; I know some men who can cook amazing meals (Cast Iron Dan). I also know female mechanics.

But for the most part; most of the women that I know are better cooks, and the majority of the men are better at the mechanical and electrical types of things.

So I am going to start talking this idea up at church to see how well the idea will go over.

Do any of you have any other ideas that we could implement? Please feel free to comment.

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Treading Softly..But Treading On

I have been trying on new titles – “widow”- “single”. It feels weird. Here is why.

In my new walk, I am meeting widows who have been widowed for years and continue to tell their story. They seem stuck, unable to move forward; mostly looking back and repeating the stories of-the past. At church, I hear the same widows tell the same stories every week. I understand that we all heal differently, but I myself do not fit that group. There is a life out there for me, and I am determined to find it. But with my new widow friends I tread softly. I cannot feel their pain. I only feel mine, and how I am dealing with it.

I am meeting singles who are swinging-looking for the next conquest. Nope- not me either. I remind myself to tread softly. I will be their friend, but I am not what they are looking for.

I am meeting the divorced singles. That is a tough one. When a couple divorces, they do not split into two whole individuals. They truly brake when they brake up.  Each person takes half of their  partner with them, leaving half of themselves behind. In this case; two halves do not make a whole. In many cases; this person is now full of confusion, anxiety, and either fear of being alone (desperately reaching for anyone to fill the need), or relationship shy. Either way, it makes it hard for them to relate in a healthy way. I am not what they are looking for either. But I understand their loneliness. So I will tread softly, and be their friend.

I am not broken, but there is sorrow. I was loved by a man who truly loved me in return. No one broke, no one left because they wanted out. No one was rejected. My confidence is still in place. So I am still whole.

So where do I fit? Will I find love again? How will I fill the hours that used to belong to Steve and Donna?

For now; I will fill the hours with family and friends. Lots of new friends.

I will listen to the stories of my friends who have been widowed. When a man comes on to me to fulfill his need of conquest; I will offer to be a friend only. I may be the first woman that he has ever learned to be friends with. I will comfort the lonely divorced person, and encourage them to find wholeness in themselves.

I will pray with-and for-them all. Being by yourself can be tough sometimes. But even worse would be to be with the wrong person.

I am only 6 months into this journey. How can I appear to be so strong? Am I so heartless? Did I not love Steve? What is wrong with me?

I adored Steve, and if you had told me a year ago that I would be here right now; I would have spent the following months wailing about what was to come. All I know is that each step of the way, God was there to hold my hand, whisper in my ear, and show me others who were in worse situations than I am.

I am grateful that I had a man like Steve in my life for as long as I did. Jesus has replaced him as my husband, and He is now the right person for me.

A friend wrote to me after the original posting of this note. He encouraged me that in all probability, I will find love again. Not to replace Steve; but to find true enjoyment of another. I do not doubt that. But my eyes are wide open, and my heart is being very careful. I do not want to get ahead of God. I am belly up on this. My submission is complete. I want God to be the boss of me; not me.

How blessed I am though that I had someone that made it so hard to say goodbye.

Didn’t Winnie the Pooh (one of my favorite theologians) say something like that?

 

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Steve’s Love Letter to Donna

Right after Steve passed, I focused on two things. Calling out to God in my pain, and missing Steve.

I wore his favorite T-shirt to bed every night. I wore his wedding ring on my thumb, and  I carried his bible with me to church.

Then one day the fog cleared; and I realized that I was only causing myself more pain by doing this.

So I put the ring on my dresser, put the T-shirt in my underwear drawer, put his bible on the shelf, and took my own bible to church.

The first time that I opened my bible; a paper fell out. I realized that he had written a love letter to me before he left; for me to find after he was gone.

I started this whole thing with Donna’s Love Letter to Steve. It only seems right to end this series of posts with Steve’s Love Letter to Donna. Some would say that I should not post it for the whole world to read, and I have thought long and hard about it. But I live my life transparently, and am very proud to share how much this man loved me. I hope that it encourages someone else to write a love letter to the one that they love, before a time like this has a chance to happen in their life.

Here goes.

April 7th 2017

D-

By the time that you find this, I will be gone. I put it in your bible because I know that you will turn to God, and you be carrying this around a lot. I know that we had some time to say the things that we need to say to each other, but life will happen-you will move on and I do not want you to forget what I have to say to you.

Since I have gotten sick, I see your determination to save me. Donna-you have always referred to me  as your hero. But you have become mine.

I watch you researching, I hear you praying, I feel you crying in the bed next to me at night. I feel you get up and go to the bathroom, because you do not want me to know that your are crying. I feel you place your hand on my abdomen when you think that I am asleep, and I know that you  are praying with all that you have. Your childlike faith has always amazed me. You really believe that God is not only listening, but that He talks to you. Though I cannot say that I have experienced this, I know that you do. I pray to hear his voice as clearly as you do.

I will fight to stay with you as long as I can, but I want you to know that I am ready to go. I know that you will find your peace in God, but know this-if there is any way that I can be there to comfort you I will. I know that you do not like to be alone in the house at night-so that is when I will be there.

You have been the best wife that this man could ever ask for. I have never loved anyone the way that I love you. You have inspired me to become much more than I am. In your playful way, you have made me feel like a king. You have encouraged me in so many ways. You come across both sweet and helpless at times; causing me to want to rise up and be the hero that you say that I am, but in reality- you are the strongest woman that I have ever known. Donna- you are strong, and you will get through this. I hate leaving you, I want to spend many more years loving you, and being loved by you.

Allow God to surround you with good people. Ask for help when you need it. You have many friends who love you and will help. This place will become too much for you. You will know when the time is right to sell it.

Thank you for loving me like you have- playfully and thoroughly, never “missing and opportunity”.

It has been an honor to be what you had engraved in my wedding ring;

Your best friend, your lover, and your hero.

Steve

 

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