Monday, February 1, 2021

My Valentine Article About Phyllis Vavold from This Month's "Plain Values" Magazine + 2 Free Offers

Hi Everyone, 

I hope you are staying warm and bundled up up if you've got that snow storm today! Days like this and months like February (hello Valentines Day 😢) can really stir up the heartache. I hope to walk with you extra close this month.

News got out on Facebook about my Widows Path column in a magazine called Plain Values so I'm making it available for everyone to read here.

Plain Values is a beautiful, full-color monthly magazine originally mailed FREE exclusively to Amish homes all over the US. (The ads are so interesting!) NOW YOU CAN GET IT TOO! (That's the first free offer. The second is mentioned in my article).  Please click here Plain Values to preview and subscribe.

Here's the article: 

A Valentine

A few years ago I read about a widow named Phyllis (Vavold) Nettleton and how, as soon as she put her Christmas ornaments away, she immediately began decorating for Valentine’s Day. I should never be surprised by the things that widows do, but this one rattled my head a bit; I was confused as to her purpose for doing this! I wondered if she owned a store and was switching her merchandise, or if she taught a classroom and was changing her bulletin boards, or maybe she just loved to decorate...? 


I quickly found out she didn’t have garlands of hearts, roses and cupids draped over her doorways as my crazy imagination dreamed up. Instead, her decoration was more simple: every year she took out a special vase, filled it with a dozen silk red roses, and topped the flowers with a small card. On the card was this message from God’s Word: "I have loved you with an everlasting love." (Jeremiah 31:3). 


This was a personal Valentine decoration, and Phyllis was excited to display it again, as she did every year. When I read her book, “Grace for the Raging Storm,” which is available on, I began to realize it was deeply personal.


On a pleasant Sunday evening, July 7th, 2004, Phyllis and her husband of thirty-nine years, George Vavold, were driving west on the highway from their home in Idaho. They planned to have dinner and spend the night at a hotel in Bend, Oregon, before proceeding to the Oregon coast for a week of vacation. The top was down on their Ford Mustang convertible and they enjoyed the breezes blowing through their hair, the last rays of the sunset, and each other’s company. 


Heading east on that same highway, at that same time, two teenage boys in a stolen Buick Skylark took to the left lane to zoom past a trucker who estimated their speed at 130 miles per hour. They hit Phyllis and George head on! The impact pushed the little Mustang convertible back down the highway for forty-four feet; then the Buick rolled over the top of it, flipped three times and exploded into flames. Eyewitnesses called 911. From miles away those flames were a beacon in the dark night for the Life Flight helicopter. 


Meanwhile, Phyllis was trapped in the car, semiconscious, with the windshield and dashboard in her lap. In her book she wrote, “…my entire world seemed suspended in time. The darkness engulfed me, and I was in a great deal of pain… A moment ago I was talking with George, and now a vise grip of pain, confusion, and gloom held me taut.” 


The next day, after a night filled with hours of emergency surgery, the hospital chaplain gently told her that George had been killed instantly. She knew it was true, but like all of us, she didn’t want to believe it. Without George in her life, the pain was too much; she cried out loudly from her hospital bed, “I don’t want to be a widow!” Widowhood wracked her heart and extensive physical injuries wracked her body: “…a broken right hip, dislocated left hip, concussion, completely shattered right foot, broken ribs, fractured spine, right hand lacerated, knee trauma, and multiple cuts and abrasions…”


In one brutal moment, Phyllis’s life changed forever. Yet, for many of the years of her widowhood, she was excited to display her Valentine bouquet as a reminder of God’s intense love for her. 


How did she do that? The answer is in her book: almost every page of it is seeded with Bible verses that she clung to as God’s promises and messages of love for her. 


In a personal note she explained her Valentine bouquet like this: 


“Although my love story with George was interrupted by tragedy, my love relationship with God will never be interrupted. Sometimes our love stories are temporary or vulnerable, but a love relationship with God is indestructible. God's Word is a love letter and it tells us of an amazing romance. God's love is an extraordinary love. Through Jesus, God's Son, the pattern is set for ‘True Love!’”


Phyllis is looking forward to celebrating her fifth wedding anniversary this year with her second husband, Seth Nettleton, a wonderful Christian man. But it’s her love with Jesus Christ her Savior that still sustains her most of all. 


Dear Reader, you may still be trying to get back up from the latest disaster in your life. If so, I’m so sorry! There have been way too many tragedies for all of us lately, it seems. “It’s easy to see that God loves Phyllis,” you may  think, “but what about me?” 


The cold weather of February can reflect the loneliness and ache of our hearts. The ice echoes in our kitchens. “Where is God? Does He love me? There are so many people in this big world, does He really have time for me?” When you take a look at your Bible, it looks like any other book; it certainly doesn’t seem like much of a love letter. 


During World War Two, while the British people huddled down during bombing blackouts and wondered if God loved them and if He listened to their prayers, Christian author and lecturer C.S. Lewis told them this: “…God has infinite attention, infinite leisure to spare for each one of us. He doesn’t have to take us in the line. You’re as much alone with Him as if you were the only thing He’d ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you’d been the only man in the world.”


Let me encourage you to tap into some of God’s infinite attention for you by spending time in His Word. Realize that when you read your Bible, Godyour Creator and your Savioris taking this time to sit down with you and speak directly to you as you read. So seed the moments of your day with Bible reading like Phyllis seeded the pages of her book with Scripture. A useful tool to help guide you in where to start reading is a One Year Bible Reading Plan I’ve developed. Everyone can use it, but the chapters and verses I’ve chosen are especially helpful if you find it hard to concentrate because of grief. Just send a self-addressed stamped envelope to my address below, and I’ll send you the one-page plan that you can keep in your Bible. (It will be included free with all book orders this month; no need for the stamped envelope if you order the book).  


The Valentine's Day countdown has begun. If things go according to years past, about 110 million roses will be sold, and more than 58 million pounds of chocolate will fatten everyone up. Let’s never mind all that, though. Instead, let’s treat ourselves to a dozen silk roses, or even just one, with a note that says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love…” Those are not just words from a greeting card, those words are God taking the time to focus on each one of us individually and say exactly what He thinks of us. There was never a more true Valentine than that!  

P.S. If you are reading this on my blog and want the free Bible reading guide there's no need to write. Just email me at My book is available on my blog too! Just click the bookstore at the top. If you read this on your phone then click on the title to get to the actual blog site, or try and then click the bookstore. Thanks!



  1. I found you when I first became a widow almost 9 years ago. I just want to thank you for all you’ve done and all you do. I can’t even explain how thankful I am. God bless you, Ferree❤️

    1. Oh, Anitalouise, how kind of you to comment. You are very welcome. God's mercies flow back and forth among us and I am thankful to hear from you. May God bless you!


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