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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Allowing Others to Serve Me

That is a tough one sometimes. Being the oldest of 5; I think that I know what is best for others. I can be rather strong in my suggestions, and I jump right in there to help them.

But taking a step back, and allowing others to speak into my life, or do something for me is difficult. I know how to ask for help after I have become overwhelmed, but in the asking I still feel like I am the one in charge (?)

For the first time in my life, I am actually finding comfort in someone putting their arm around me to guide me in a direction, and to help me make decisions.

I have surrounded myself with people who have the same belief system that I have, and allow them to speak into my life.

I have a large home, an agricultural property full of livestock. There are floors to mop, animals to feed, trees to trim and grass to mow. So much grass!

The riding lawn mower does not fit me. I really like the push mower, and I spend hours doing it. I can pray while I mow early in the morning before work, and I find it to be great abdominal exercise.

I am also gone a lot because I have found myself to be very active with my church group, and all the activities; like bowling, dancing, and dinners out.

But they have come; true friends. When the car batteries died, when the air conditioner broke, when the front yard flooded, when the pig got out and crushed the PVC pipe to the sprinklers, when the outside lights quit working, when the cable box went out, and when the batteries in the blue ray  remote went out. Don’t laugh, I never touched a remote when Steve was with me. Friends were there.

When my dog Cody was stolen, leaving us unprotected; and the coyotes came to eat half of my chicken flock. Friends came to take the chickens, and sheep to safety until I could figure out how to make things right for them here.

When I thought about selling; my sister came to help me box stuff up in order to stage the place. Now that I am not selling after all, I look at my beautiful home, and give a deep sigh. I like it uncluttered.

When I get a little anxiety about allowing others to help me, I just remember what a blessing it is for me when I help. Then I give them a hug, tell them how much their help has blessed me, and watch for that little light in their face.

The light that shows when you discover the joy of sharing your life’s abundance.

 

 

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Serving Others to Heal Myself

So I mentioned before that I switched churches. It  just did not feel right attending the church that Steve and I went to; without him.

On my very first day at the new bible study, created for singles over 50, I could see how there were many people that were hurting worse that I was. So I plopped myself down at a table of ladies, and began to make friends.

I asked them questions, and exchanged phone numbers with several. I called them during the week, and began to see how I could encourage them. That is how I am taking my mind off of my troubles; by helping others.

I found out that there was a very large group of singles from all over the valley that meets at this church on Monday night. So I attended that, and began making friends there too.

This particular singles group subscribes to the thought of “Friendshipping” rather than dating. That made me feel that I was in a safe place, and did not have to worry about guys coming on to me. I just was not interested. The pain was still to raw. I just needed friends. These friends go out in groups. They develop boy/girl relationships slowly and carefully. I have been dancing, bowling, going to dinner, and movies with both boys and girls in a way that does not make me feel that I have made some commitment or mistake. I can learn to play again without getting hurt. I like it.

I attended the church service a couple of weeks later, and found that the teaching was similar to where I had come from. So I decided that this is where I would call home, and I have.

 

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