Okay, so…I am beginning to understand that there is quite a large sorority of young widows out there. (okay, I’m not young, but I’m too young to be a widow, thank you!)   While I certainly can’t offer a great amount of wisdom, I am happy to try and be as transparent as possible as I navigate this first year of widowhood.

So here is the first big hurdle…the holidays.

I really didn’t know what to expect during the first set of holidays without Keith.  You have to understand, Keith was really a lot of fun to live with!  He was funny (sometimes when he meant to be, and a LOT of times by accident), and he brightened up every day.  So I wasn’t sure if when that Keith element was removed from the holiday equation if I would find myself curled up in a ball somewhere!

I am pleased to tell you that so far, so good as far as the whole curling up in a ball thing. As you can imagine, decorating the tree brought back a flood of memories.  Keith and I bought a Christmas ornament from every trip and every place that we traveled, so the ornaments on the tree are like a travel guide to our life.  So, I guess one would think that the experience of looking at each of them would be painful.  Actually, the opposite was true.  I remembered the trips and the fun and thanked God that we took the time and the money throughout our marriage to take trips like that in order the have these memories.

I get asked at least once a week, “How are you?”  I truly don’t mind people asking me that, because it is another reason why I am doing okay during this time.  I am surrounded both locally and around the country by loving, wonderful people who are genuinely concerned about me.  It’s hard to explain, but the warmth and love that I feel is truly amazing.  I even have a group of ladies in my church who have taken on being secret sisters to me throughout this year.  They have done wonderful things for me…sent gifts and encouraging notes…so precious!  And by the way, December secret sister, whoever you are…the flowers are beautiful!

Finally, I knew the holidays would be a challenge for us, so I decided to create a distraction.  As you may remember, Keith and I were supposed to go to Hawaii last June for our 30th anniversary. We were flying on frequent flyer miles and staying on hotel points.  When we had to cancel the trip all of those points/miles went back into the account.  So, next week Josh, Bethany, and I are going to New York to experience New York at Christmas!  We are flying free, and staying free using the Hawaii points/miles, and we have some wonderful things planned.  We are going to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show and the Rockefeller Center Tree.  We are also going to see David Letterman next Thursday, so look for us in the audience (you never know!)  We are also seeing several plays and doing lots of shopping!  All in all, it should be a great trip and the biggest thing is that I know Keith would be very happy that we are taking it!

When I look back on this, one of the most difficult years of my life, I see how God orchestrated each event, and absolutely walked through each twist and turn with us.  Please don’t misunderstand.  I am not trivializing the horror of disease and cancer.  It was horrible.  My stomach churns each time I hear of a friend who is facing it and I plead for God’s mercies for them.

But the bottom line is…it is what it is and it will not defeat me, nor will it take my joy.  I believe that I am part of a much bigger plan.  I believe that whatever that bigger plan is, Keith is already doing it and I am a little envious.

I have to share with you one of my new favorite scriptures.  This is Psalm 103:6-18 from The Message:

God makes everything come out right;he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work, opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long; like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly, leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways
and remember to do whatever he said.

I love the phrase that “God’s love is ever and always eternally present to all who fear him.”  I overwhelmingly feel that love.

So for now I will thank God for every day that I had with Keith and will bless God in every day that I have remaining here.

I will celebrate the season of His son and offer a “Merry Christmas” to everyone I can!

Blessings, my friends!