Monday, October 5, 2015

Greetings from Soggy South Carolina

Looking out my front door at
the neighbor's house across
the street yesterday...
It's Sunday afternoon, and as I write I wonder if my house will be flooded by the time you read this. Will we be stranded in the middle of a new lake, peering out the front door of our once-lovely home? Will our Ford Explorer be big enough to drive through the water covered streets if they still exist? We have no curbs in our neighborhood, not that we could find them anyway if covered by a couple feet of water.

The same view as I write this
on Sunday afternoon...

I felt so sorry for the people in Charleston and Columbia yesterday . . . the newscasts and videos made me gasp. And now the "firehose" of that vicious orange red and yellow hurricane rain band is blasting Myrtle Beach and 100 miles inland through the coastal plain where I live. I listen to the soft drumming of the unrelenting rain and look out the windows to see how much more of my green yard is reflecting rain clouds and pinging with raindrops.

My house is on a concrete slab. (Now we understand why we Yankees couldn't buy a home with a basement; a basement would have flooded long ago. They build everything down here on a slab or above a crawl space. Southern wisdom). I wish this house was up higher. Too late now. But the porch is still dry. The garage is still dry. After they fall, like territory in a war zone, we still have about 5 inches before the house floors are taken. That's a lot of rain, but if it continues through tomorrow night as forecasted we'll surely be flooded out.

Maybe it'll stop.

And so we wait. Do I pray? It's weird, but praying for the rain to stop before my own doorway seems self-centered and petty. But I do pray my widows--my readers--will be ok. Flooding would be a setback and huge inconvenience for Tom and I. But for my widows, and others who are also alone; for anyone not yet acquainted with loss or still healing from loss, it's extremely hard. Unthinkable; indeed, a nightmare.

The rain pounds faster and harder at the moment. So does my heart. It's like I'm looking over the edge of the high dive. If this really happens, if my house floods, it's a new chapter in the story of my life. Not one I would choose. I've had enough of tragedy, suspense, challenge and crisis. Where's my happily-ever-after?

I don't know if I'll ever have that picture-perfect life. But I do know this: Jesus Christ who once whispered, "Peace, be still," to a storm raging on the Sea of Galilee has said the same thing to me. While Joaquin spins its chaos in the Atlantic (Lord, please take care of Tanya in Bermuda), and flings the recycled ocean across South Carolina I hear Him even now down deep in my heart---Peace, be still.

He's with me in this storm. I've learned that's all I really need.

The convenience of computer technology will happily post this at it's pre-scheduled time of 8 a.m. EST tomorrow whether my house is flooded or not. Whether I have electricity or not. Whether I'm still here or making my way to a shelter. All I can say at this point is that I'll update whenever I can. And hopefully by then this will seem pathetically melodramatic because I'll not be flooded! But if I am, please know I'm resting in Christ, the all-powerful Creator of peace, and Sovereign Lord of all, and I'm praying for you.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Memorial Wall for October 2015

It takes only a few sentences to get a picture of the lives and loves of our widows and their families this month. Please pray for each of them. If you'd like to add your own tribute to the Memorial Wall, please follow the directions mentioned here. I'd be honored to add your precious memory.

* Gareth * Clare (lung cancer/ stroke) * We’d just moved to start a new life, Clare had a “chest infection” turned out to be pleurisy (turned out to be lung cancer). Until the week before she died we expected her to get better but then she had a stroke. The last week was absolutely amazing (the family worshipped and prayed together at 3pm everyday) (but I wish we could have talked to each other). Clare died at the end of our singing “Jesus we celebrate your Victory” but my life has been blown out of the water * Aberystwyth, Mid Wales
10/05/2011 * Donna * Raymond- suicide * Renee 17 years old; Isaac 13 years old * Psalm 4:8 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. * Your pain and suffering is over now, my love; rest in the presence of our Lord until we meet again. Thank you for the 19 years of marriage and two incredible children you gave me. You are always in our hearts. * Ohio
10/10/2012 * Soledad (Soli) * David M Serrato, age 64, passed away at almost the midnight hour. * I was there at ICU with him till the end. He loved me soo much and I love him soo much still now. He contracted West Nile virus in the worst outbreak in US history; he fought for 3 months and 5 days till he went with God to Heaven. My husband used to pray over me when I would sleep. Because he was older than me, he knew he could go before me. He would tell me how he prayed to God for years, asking for permission to be my Guardian Angel when/if he passed before me. He taught me to learn to like myself, to be strong and to trust in God. He always told me this: "Jesus is the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings and one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess He is Lord...." God joined our prayers together, we met, and we became a family for almost 12 yrs. I feel lost without him, I thought he was MY assignment to take care of for the rest of my life, but now I feel lost, hurt, abandoned by God some times even. * Central Texas
10/13/2010 * Glenda * Jim- He died suddenly from a heart attack while playing golf. It was a beautiful, sunny day and he made his putt and then just fell over. * Our sons: Crawford and Glenn * Jim was a quiet and kind man who made each day special and fun. We met in college in 1959 and were about to celebrate our 50th anniversary. His deep faith brings peace to my heart.
10/15/ 2014 * Suzanne * Graham -- brain cancer * No children, unfortunately (we were too late out the starting gate!) * I am so grateful for the 20 years that God gave us. I love you so much & always will. I know you're enjoying Heaven & I don't begrudge that. I will be with you some day. * New Jersey
10/15/2010 * Doris * Frank died at age 76 of metastasized lung cancer six weeks after diagnosis, the shortest six weeks of my life. Stomach cancer had spread and filled his lungs and liver and we never knew it; occasionally he would say, “I don’t feel good today,” but it never stopped him from his work. * Frank had a daughter, Debbie who was 53, from a first marriage of 21 years; I had 2 sons from a first marriage of 18 years, Mark was 46, and Michael who was killed in an auto accident in 2000 at age 34. * Frank and I were married for 32 years. He was the hardest working man I’ve ever known, a Supervisor in the Heavy Machine Shop at Newport News Shipbuilding, had a part-time tree business for 35 years and he did the climbing – his last tree was six weeks before he died. He was known as Mr. Fix-It and helped anybody who needed him. Frank was a “man’s man,” hunted, fished and he left a big empty hole in many lives. I so miss his arms around me and the strength of his presence. I was blessed to be married to Frank. * Yorktown, Virginia.
10/16/2011 * Lisa * Bill. He went home to be with our Lord and Savior on Sunday, October 16, 2011. He died from a very rare form of thyroid cancer. * At the time of his death, our sons Kyle was 15 and Randy 12. * Our love and faith in God is the only thing that has gotten us through. We were married for 16 years and I have been with him for more than half of my life. I miss him terribly! *
10/16/1999 * Catherine * Sid, hepatitis C * son Ben - 36 years old - died of cancer in February, 1993. He was a wonderful young man, loved music. * I still miss my two men, even after all this time, but I
lead a support group at my church and it helps me to help others.
10/20/2009 * Donna * Robert [Bob] - Bob was killed in a logging accident on our farm. He was 53* Gabriel Robert, age 10 * Missouri.
10/21/11 * Amanda * Wade...sudden massive heart attack. * Our children...Misty (28), Katie (26), Bethany (24) * We were married for 31 years and not a day goes by that I don't miss him. He was amazing! * Louisiana
10/22/2014 * Beth * Douglas (50) pancreatic cancer * 3 sons Alex (18), Nick (16), and Zach (13). * Doug pastored a church and was working hard at his CPE credits working towards his goal of chaplaincy. He was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer 10 months before his death. We were married for 22 years and he loved his boys dearly. We all miss him dearly.
10/23/13 * Shauna Pendleton * Gary Pendleton, toxic mega-colon * Frank (18) * We were highschool sweethearts married for 22 years. We had just begun our 2nd honeymoon (empty nest). The grief is beyond painful. He was the most amazing man with a heart of gold and a sense of humor that could make anyone laugh. TX
10/23/12 * Trudie * Alan Sandberg died due to motorcycle accident. * Three grown children, 5 grandchildren. * Alan was the sweetest and most compassionate man I've ever known. God's servant, he had a servants heart. He loved me as though there was no tomorrow and our children were precious to him. I will love and miss him forever.
10/24/2010 * Jenn * Jonathan, at age 38. * Shannon 14, Gabriel, 2 * He's finally free! Experiencing the fullness of God he failed to fully know on earth. Despite all his struggles, I truly loved him.
10/25/2010 * Karen * Mark, 51 - Complications from MS, kidney, heart and weaked immune system. * Katie 24, Kerrygan 22, Tom 20 * We miss him as he was taken away from us too young.
10/26/2014 * Carla Maxwell * James Maxwell, died from a brain aneurism at age of 48 * Jessica 25, Courtney 22, Bobby 20, Carl 16, JR 14 and Two Grandsons - Trace 3, Tucker 9 months * Jim was my life, my Everything, my Best Friend. I will forever miss him and long to see him in Heaven. Greatest Dad and Husband; we couldn't ever have asked for more. Greensboro, NC
10/26/2010 * Kathleen * Wayne * Sepsis * David 25, currently lives with me; Jon 22, (engaged to Holly) lives with me * Recently started to volunteer with Indiana Organ Donation Organization (IOPO) Wayne received the gift of life: a Heart Transplant. He was able to live an additional 13 years, to see his sons grow up. We live in Northern Indiana
10/28/2012 * Gertrude * William Henry, lung cancer
10/29/2013 * Lynda Slattery * Michael Slattery, cancer * Marianne (19), Jonathan (16), Rebekah (13) * Mike and I had a happy and healthy relationship. We have been blessed by so many friends and family members who helped us through Mike's year and half battle with cancer, his passing and funeral, and now through this first year full of firsts to get through. I'm praying for patience and guidance for whatever the future holds for us. * Greenville, SC
10/29/2011 * Tanya * Jim, heart attack * Ashley 21 years old-Niccole 19 years old-Trisha 12 years old. * My husband was such a blessing to me and we miss him every second of the days. He had brought so much joy to our lives. I look very forward to being him in Heaven with him one day. We are doing the best we can to create a new norm to our life. * Washington
10/31/2009 * Catherine * Jimmy-pneumonia secondary to H1N1 (44 years old) *Joe (20), Jason(15), and Susanna, (5) * There are no words.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Naomi's Story: The Power of Praying for Kindness

From Ruth 1:6-15, and my book Postcards From The Widows' Path...

As Naomi and her daughters-in-law began their fifty mile walk out of Moab, she realized what life would be like in Bethlehem for Orpah and Ruth. They might be social outcasts. Chances of marriage were slim. They would live in poverty. Naomi would eventually die; Orpah and Ruth would be stranded. Naomi carried these thoughts along the path to Bethlehem until she reached a point where it was too far for herself to turn around, but still close enough for the younger Orpah and Ruth to turn back before nightfall.

Her thoughts battled one against the other: she couldn’t let the girls come along, yet the journey was far more dangerous without them. Finally, love won over her worries. "Go back," she commanded. Risking her own life and happiness, she determined to go on alone. We seldom pause to understand what a strong, wise and loving woman Naomi must have been, but Orpah and Ruth knew. I believe that’s one reason they followed her.

Naomi couched her orders for them with a prayer:
May the LORD show kindness to you . . .
May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest . . .

Imagine that a godly older woman puts a hand on your shoulder and utters these words over you. Isn’t that your heart’s desire—kindness and rest? We cannot summon, will, or somehow acquire either one.

Our survival and prosperity are totally dependent upon God’s kindness. Our souls long for rest that is beyond our own provision.

Kindness and rest . . . that was my prayer for myself when I was widowed, and that's my prayer for you today.


Monday, September 28, 2015

The Power of Choosing Kind Words

Hmm, where should I start?
Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”

This verse reminds me of two very different loads I can choose to carry every day. When I wake up in the morning I must decide: anxious words or kind words.

You’d think the choice would be easy! Take the kind words and be cheered up!

But the anxious words were so familiar when I was widowed. I was used to them. Some people would say I had a right to them. Here they are:
  • It’s not fair . . .
  • If only . . .
  • What if . . .
One day even my wedding ring was sending me anxious and discouraging words. I know that sounds a little crazy! But I didn't hear voices or hallucinate. I loved my ring and never intended to take it off. But that day, it seemed like every time I looked at that ring, instead of stirring memories of the good marriage I had enjoyed, it would say, “You’re not married any more.” Of course that was true, but looking at my ring had become negative and painful, and no longer a sweet reminder.

I had recently been given my grandmother’s diamond ring. So when the wedding ring started sassing me, I took it off and put Grandma's on in it’s place. The new ring sparkled and seemed to say “good things can still happen.”

In the same way I can take off the anxious words and choose kind words.

Instead of “It's not fair...” I pick up on Eph. 1:3 which isn't very fair either, but is a much better deal! It says that God has “. . . blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ...” I sure don't deserve blessings like that! Yet God is gracious and generous.

Instead of “If only...” I replace it with “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made...” Psalm 139:14.

Instead of “What if...” I fill in the blank with “...whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

In fact, read all of Phillipians 4:4-9. It’s a pile of kind words. If you pick up this load of Scripture today, instead of you carrying it around, it’ll carry you! It's not always easy to replace our thoughts with Scripture. Sometimes it's spiritual warfare and a struggle, but God really can give us victory in this. If I can pray for you about this please let me know by emailing me at or send me a message on Facebook. We're not meant to struggle alone but rather to bear one another's burdens and I'm more than willing to listen and pray for you.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Coming Soon --- Beauty Boot Camp!

Online ministries and websites come and go, but I've watched Shari Brandel's Fashion Meets Faith for several years now and what this ministry does is grow and grow! Although it's not specifically designed for widows, widows are women too! And one facet of Shari's ministry---Beauty Boot Camp--- is something I highly recommend for widows!
Why not take some relief from grief and go to this refreshing weekend of girl talk and so much more? 
  • Discover there's God-given beauty within each of us just waiting to show up on the outside!
  • Learn to dress with colors and styles that bring out your inner beauty and personality and honor your Creator God
  • Experience meaningful fellowship with women who will touch your heart and feed your soul
  • And without that husband around anymore to say, "Honey, you look beautiful..." Beauty Boot Camp can help you know that when you look in the mirror God intimately loves you and delights in you
  • You'll be transformed inside and out!
  • Plus an afternoon of shopping with professional stylists and expert bargain hunters??--what a deal!
  • Laughter! And more laughter! It's good for the soul!
It'll be held Oct. 16-18 at a wonderful oceanfront hotel in Myrtle Beach, SC. The cost includes your hotel stay and is a bargain at $579. Register or get more info here.

Click the frame below for a fun video! If it doesn't show up in your email, you can catch it at the website link above.

And last but not least, click here for some BEFORE and AFTER pictures of when I went to BBC in 2013. Getaways Are Great Events for Widows  I got to meet and room with a widow friend, Carol, and we had a super time of fellowship and fun. And guess what? There was another widowed lady there too.  Please be sure to let me know if you register.
P.S. If you can't make this retreat, don't forget there's A Weekend With the Author (me), coming up  December 4 - 6. Use the link or click the tab at the top of this blog for details.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Widow's Story: The Geranium Lady

"Worry never empties tomorrow of its sorrow, but it does empty it of its strength. Don't let anyone rob you of your confidence in God. Know his Word. Hold on to his hand. He will make your impossible mission possible and your life so much more than bearable."
(Women of Faith Study Bible, pg. 1589)

These are the words of Barbara Johnson, a lady who knew all about impossible circumstances and God's possibilities. God used her as a speaker and writer to comfort millions of women with the comfort and joy she received from Him!
944791: Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy! Repackaged Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy! Repackaged

If you need a fresh breath of joy in your life, then Barbara Johnson's Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy! will teach you how to release that bubble of joy within you and claim God's promise to "fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy." (Job 8:21 TLB) No stranger suffering, she's learned that while pain is inevitable, picking flowers instead of weeds will ease the suffering.

The “Geranium Lady,” a nickname taken from her bestselling book, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy, started writing after age 50, after she'd experienced several tragedies. Her husband suffered debilitating injuries in a near fatal car accident. One of their sons was killed in Vietnam, another died in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver. Their third boy engaged in a homosexual lifestyle and separated from them for a period of time before God reconciled them.

Although Barbara Johnson (1927-2007) died after a six year fight against brain cancer (Central Nervous System Lymphoma) and three years after her husband's death, her encouragement from the Lord lives on today. During her illness she even added four more books to her list of published works! Here's one of those titles:
37854: Plant a Geranium in Your Cranium: Sprouting Seeds of Joy in the  Manure of Life Plant a Geranium in Your Cranium: Sprouting Seeds of Joy in the Manure of Life

After a courageous battle with cancer, America's favorite "joyologist", Barbara Johnson, brings her readers another serving of humor, encouragement, and godly advice. Plant a Geranium in Your Cranium is a joyful chronicle of her own experiences combined with dozens of hilarious anecdotes and cartoons sent to her by others who share her belief in the healing power of laughter.

Have you read any of her books or did you ever have the privilege of hearing her speak at a Women of Faith conference or elsewhere?

Who are the heroes and role models in your life today?
Guess what? I've said it before and I'll say it again, Widows are my heroes!


For a bevy of other books by Barbara Johnson, including many in eBook versions, click this link: