Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Do You Have A Role Model for Widowhood?

I never see my name on pretty pins or stationary in stores,
so I was thrilled to see it on this sign in Paradise, PA
I think role models are really important for widows. As a widow, I was always wondering if I'd make it, and I carefully watched the widows around me. I tried to figure out if they were happy, and how they found contentment. Sometimes I needed to know how they made it through the day! So I hope this blog fills in some of those blanks for you if you're watching other widows like I was.

I became a true fan of widows when I found out about the woman who's name I share.
You probably noticed my first name is unusual, right? It was actually one of my great-grandmothers' maiden names, and as a little girl I'd heard a family legend that in early American history a lady from France named Madame Ferree received some land from William Penn.

So when I was freshly widowed with a little spare time on my hands, I did some research. I found out that Madame Ferree was more than a legend, she was a pretty amazing woman! Her real name was Mary or Marie, and she and her husband, Daniel, were wealthy silk merchants in France in the 1600's. They were also Huguenots (a form of Calvinist Protestant Christianity)---a dangerous label when religious freedom in France was revoked in 1685. Religious persecution flamed and the Daniel Ferree family fled for their lives to the Rhine Valley of Germany.

Along the way they adopted a boy who’s parents had been murdered for their faith. In Germany Palatine their youngest son was born, becoming the 7th child in the family of refugees.

But guess what happened next: Mary Ferree’s husband died. She was a widow, too, like me! Like you! Except I didn't have 7 children, alone, and running for my life.

After her husbands death, Mary Ferree and the children took a remarkable journey to Holland, and then to England. There, "by chance" she met William Penn and Queen Anne, who gave her a land grant and outfitting to The New World! Then she sailed for eleven weeks across the Atlantic to arrive in New York in 1710. I can't imagine what crossing the Atlantic must have been like! No electricity or running water on board!
This is a commemorative plate depicting
the welcome Mary Ferree received in 1712
from Tanawa, chief of the Paquaw Indians.
From the port of New York--remember it's only the year 1710, the United States of America doesn't exist yet!-- she traveled up the Hudson River to a French Huguenot community further inland. And in 1712 she and her family made their way to Philadelphia to obtain the title to their land.

From Philadelphia she coninued west for another 50 miles, met peaceful Indians, lodged in the wigwams they offered, and declared the countryside to be Paradise.

I was stunned by this my ancestor, her struggles, her faith, her life—and especially all she had accomplished as a widow! I’m not sure I could make it anywhere without a car, my cell phone, or a nice warm bed at night!

But what's most important is that you know you have such a role model, too. Here's where you may find her-- or him:
  • your family tree—maybe your mother, or an aunt, or grandma
  • a friend from your past---like a girlfriend, or a teacher, nurse or co-worker
  • Scripture--is there a favorite Bible character you really relate to?
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 (NIV)

Don't you just love this verse? I thank the Lord for everything "that was written in the past," and the people who wrote and lived it. God has given their stories to us for our endurance, encouragement and hope. Who are your role models today? I'd love to hear your stories!



  1. My mother was my role model in so many ways, including her role as a widow. She was just 60 when my father died. They had been very much in love throughout their marriage.She remained his widow for another 24 years until their reunion in Heaven as she did not remarry. Having been a military officer's wife, she was familiar with keeping the home fires burning when Dad was deployed during the childhood years. I have 3 died this past April. I learned early on to value independence as an individual and strength through God from her.

  2. Your mom sounds like she truly was a wonderful role model, Sheila, and someone we could all learn from. You were fortunate to have known her and blessed to have recognized her wisdom, strength and courage. I love this thought---"I learned early on to value independence as an individual and strength through God from her."
    And I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. hugs to you

  3. Thank you, Ferree. My mother was truly a blessing to me and the family. When you read the description of the fruit of the Spirit in Scripture (Galatians 5: 22-23), it could also be said of her nature. I am still working towards becoming more like her. The seeds are within me, just need to allow them to grow. :)

  4. Beautiful, Sheila. I was just talking to a widow this morning about these seeds within us. God is forming us into His very own, and it sounds like your mom left a wonderful fingerprint of Him for you to follow. Thanks so much for sharing, it really means a lot.

  5. What a beautiful story, Ferree! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    I read obituaries in the daily newspaper and am often impressed by the stories of the lives of women who live many years as widows, and by what they accomplish.

    Each day I am inspired by their courage, their joie de vivre, and their contribution.

    Today I read about one who lived with gusto, with only her thumb and her baby finger on her right hand, (three lost in an accident at two years of age)and took care of her large family. She was a source of wisdom and strength to them.

    So, I guess I find role models in many places. I especially like the widows in the Good Book.

    One of my favourites is Anna, because Anna is my middle name. She came in "at just the perfect time" to see the Messiah. That thrills me. I find that, in my life, too, God brings things into my life "at just the perfect time".

    Even the non Christians in my cancer support group notice the "synchronicity" in my life. "Things come to you just when you need them." But Anna is my inspiration and my absolute confidence that I won't miss a single thing that God has planned for me.

    A great topic, Ferree.

    Honey Bee

  6. Dear Honey Bee, This morning your words remind me that God does bring the things we need at just the right time---and that like Anna, I won't miss out either. Your words are just what I needed this morning. Thank you so much, and I hope you are feeling well. Keep on keeping on---you show the world that God is with us, Honey Bee!


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