Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On Hiatus

Thanks to all who follow Danny's Angel Writes (DAW) and Widow's Ark (WA) so faithfully. I appreciate your loyalty, your comments, and all of the messages that you send.

Right now my work life is out of control, and I need to restore balance back into the equation. These two blogs, by God's grace, are my passion, but exhaustion has finally taken its toll, and I want to ensure that what I write continues to be reflective of God's excellence. To that end, both sites will be on hiatus for the next two weeks as I reorganize and repriortize. Publication will resume on Wednesday, 09/01/2010.

If you feel that you've been blessed by our efforts thus far, you're welcome to go back through the archives and re-read some of our past articles while we're away. We have quite a few on file now at DAW, and the collection is growing on WA.

Please keep us in your prayers as we keep you in ours.

Peace and blessings,


"Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." Philippians 4:5
 Photo via stock.xchng.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

 Believe everything that you've heard.  Two-legged wolves really do exist, and they wear sheep's clothing with style.

Guard Your Heart

Be careful of entering into new relationships for at least a year or two, and optimally even more. There's a breed of man out there that sees you as a unique prey. He assumes that you're lonely, vulnerable, and loaded. He has mixed motives in his intentions towards you. Generally he's a smooth talker, and if you let him, he'll tell you anything you want to hear.

I'm not encouraging you to be suspicious of every man that comes along and declares an interest in you.  I'm just encouraging you to be suspicious.

Many a widow has a tale to tell of how she got duped. Don't let it be said that you have a story to add to the collection.  Let wisdom be both your defense and your guide.

Warning Signs and How to Protect Yourself

1.  Take things very slowly. There's an old saying, "Patience is the weapon that causes deception to reveal itself."  Give the man time to show you who he really is.

2.  Pay attention to inconsistencies. Keep a journal outlining everything that your potential suitor says and does. Reading back over your notes helps you to keep things in perspective and to stay objective.

3.  Ask lots of questions. Remember what he says, and ask the same question over again at different times in different ways. If he's resistant to being transparent, consider that to be a warning flag.

4.  How does he speak of past relationships? A long trail of exes who, according to him, were always drama filled and with serious problems equals to a common denominator -- him.

5.  Just because he tells you that he loves you doesn't mean that he loves you. What do his actions say?  They speak way louder than his words. Does the level of affection that he professes for you seem out of step with the amount of effort that he's putting into winning you?

6.  Are large chunks of his time unaccounted for on a regular basis? Does he strictly limit the amount of time that he spends with you both in person and on the phone?

7.  Is he rushing you into a relationship? Does it seem like you just met last Tuesday and now on Sunday night he's already professing his love for you?

8.  Does his pursuit of you seem to be overly aggressive and time sensitive?

9.  Does he tend to try to segregate you away from your family and friends? Is he hesitant to spend time in their company?

10.  Do your closest friends and family raise concerns about him? Ask the people you trust and respect about their opinions in regards to your potential new relationship. Ask more than one person. Listen to and actually consider what they say.  In particular, get input from brothers, brothers-in-law, uncles, male cousins, your father (if he's still living) -- you catch my drift.

11.  Be prayerful and careful as you consider your potential suitor's affections.

12.  Watch his character and how he treats other people. Listen closely to his thoughts as they're revealed in his conversations with you. Assess his relationship with God, honesty, fidelity, sense of humor, selflessness, chivalry, finances.  Is there always some problem in your relationship where he's breaking up with you and then coming back? Take care of business before you start thinking about love. Love without business is a freight train to disaster.

13.  Does he attend church regularly?  Hint to the wise:  Don't let your guard down based on this one point alone. The more important question is does he authentically conduct himself in a manner that's actually reflective of what he's being taught in church? Don't forget what we're discussing here -- wolves in sheep's clothing. 

14.  Who are his friends? Yes, it's true. Birds of a feather really do flock together.

15.  Get to know his family. You'll be able to get a well-rounded picture of what's he's about just from this one step alone. 

16.  Who do you know first hand who knows him and can fill in some of the blanks on his history?

17.  Does he have financial crises in which he feels comfortable in coming to you and asking you for money to assist him? 

These are just a few thoughts to get you started. Even the most savvy widow is vulnerable for a certain period of time. Be wise and protect yourself. In truth, God may send another Boaz your way. Just make sure that it's actually Boaz and not his cousin, Bozo.

Your heart is too priceless a gift to have broken after the loss that you've suffered.

In future articles, I'll share some of my own experiences since I've started dating again. Let's just say that they've been a real eye opener. 

What have some of your dating experiences been as a widow?  Share them with us below. 

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."  I John 4:1

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."  Matthew 10:16

"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety." Proverbs 11:14

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keep Busy

The worst thing that you can do right now is to isolate yourself, sit around, and mope. Now I'm not at all suggesting that you become a social butterfly while still in the midst of your grief, but you have to take hold as much as God gives grace and power to get up and keep it moving, as they say. I may sound harsh, but tough love is what you need to bridge the gap right now.

This is not to minimize your sense of loss, but the truth of the matter is that you're still here, and life must go on.  In fact, it will go on regardless of whether you catch the train out of the station or not.   

Now is the time to take the opportunity to revisit old interests, develop new hobbies, strengthen old friendships, cultivate new acquanintances, etc. Your life has taken a different turn than you expected, but with God's help you can make it work and still experience all of the richness of life that He offers despite the fact that your loved one has gone on.

Keep your mind occupied.  Keep your spirit occupied.  Keep your body occupied. Everyone grieves in a different way, but the common denominator of the human experience is that left to its own devices to dwell on itself the mind can take you to dark places that are in no way beneficial to your wellbeing.  

Be careful to continue to watch your personal hygiene. Be vigilant against allowing your home to become cluttered and lacking in your care. Don't allow the television to become your best friend.  Diligently handle the business of your household.

Move at your own pace, but move nonetheless.  Remember, stagnant water becomes putrid, and this is not the way that you want to honor the life that you and your companion had together.

Remember the good times.  Pull out photographs that reflect the experiences that you had together. Welcome the opportunity to discuss him with people who knew him well.  Read your Bible and allow God to do His work behind the scenes to heal you and bring you through.

Take the first steps into your new life. You've only just begun ...

"By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through."  Ecclesiastes 10:18
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

*Photo via stock.xchng.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Widowhood Primer

Recently I wrote an article, Surviving Widowhood--A Primer, that outlined what I consider to be the 5F's, the five major issues that impact your life in the initial stages of widowhood. I'm providing the link in the hopes that it might be helpful.

Because it sums up the message that I wanted to share with you today so well, I'm going to let it speak for itself and keep today's post short.

May He fill you with peace and comfort.

*Photo via stock.xchng user dogmadic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Widow's Might

While researching for a book that I'm writing I came across the most wonderfully insightful article with the same intended title, A Widow's Might, by Miriam Neff, which appeared sometime ago in Christianity Today.  In it her lead-in stated, "My husband's death forced me to change in ways I never wanted to."

With the addendum of the statement, "... or in ways I never imagined," I think that this very well sums up not only my experience with widowhood but those of many others that I've come across while on this journey.

I really don't even think that it's possible to stay the same after an event such as this touches your life. Regardless of the status of your relationship at the time of your husband's passing, the fact remains the same, that you built a life and a home together, and now half of you has been stripped away.

Everything must change, and to be honest, from a human standpoint, it couldn't come at a more inconvenient time.  Money, friends, status, family, your self identity, all are touched by the finger of your loss to some degree.

One of the most notable changes that you will probably experience is that of your people radar becoming more fine tuned.  Now more than at any other time in your life you'll begin to learn by trial and error how to read people, their motives, thoughts, and actions, to a greater degree. In some ways, you might even become a little harder.  The rose-colored glasses come off and bifocals take their place.

You'll have the opportunity to see people at their best and to see them at their worst.  Kindness will come from places that you didn't expect and callousness from quarters you didn't anticipate.  Some friends and family will become strangers;  some strangers will become friends.  All in all, you'll find that so much during this season is not what you would have foreseen.

I'm of the opinion that widowhood will do either one of two things:  It will make or it will break you. I chose in my experience to be made.

A theme that you will hear me revisit over and over again as I share my experience with you is that refuge and safety can be found in the Word of God.  I'll probably sound like a broken record by the time we finish our association together, but it's something that I really want you to grasp early on because it truly works.

If in the midst of all of the upheaval you can grab hold to the Word of God -- and hang on -- you'll make it through all of this like a diamond forged in the fire.  When you come through on the other side you won't recognize yourself. It's not that you'll necessarily be better;  more accurately, you'll be stronger and you'll be different

So embrace the change.  Don't fight it.  Think of yourself right now as a caterpillar struggling to break free from the cocoon who one day will suddenly discover herself to be a beautiful butterfly taking wing to new horizons, new experiences, a new life.

Be blessed.

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Isaiah 26:3, KJV

*Photo via stock.xchng user oOlemon. 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Be Encouraged

In honor of my wedding anniversary, July 5th, I wrote an article for Danny's Angel Writes that published on Monday entitled, He Heals the Broken Heart.

It's been a long journey. My husband passed away in August 2004, a little more than a month after our 15th wedding anniversary. As I've stated before, it was a totally unexpected occurrence.  At the age of 42 he was stricken with a massive hemorrhagic stroke.  He had a precursor to the fatal episode approximately two months before that, but because he recovered from it with seemingly no severe after effects in a relatively fast period of time I assumed that all was well and done, that God would get the glory, and we went ahead with our life.

Mindful of the fact that we needed to make a few lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, stress) to ensure his continued health, we plodded forward in our daily routine plus changes as he in typical man fashion playfully grumbled about the sacrifices that he was now called upon to make.

Little did I realize the night that he left the house to pick up a meal and video for us while I was working away in our home office that he wouldn't be coming back. The final stroke took hold of him while he was driving home.  In his typical fashion of always putting my welfare first, his primary concern was that I would be worried, and he was able to communicate, just barely, to the police officer who found him by the side of the road dazed, disoriented, confused, and revving the car's engine trying to get it out of a ditch, that he wanted him to phone me so that I wouldn't worry about what happened to him.

I was able to get to the hospital with only a couple of minutes to spare before he slipped into a medically-induced coma from which he never awoke.

No doubt your story is just as tragic, whether you lost your husband suddenly and unexpectedly as I did mine or that you lost him through a lingering illness which enabled you to give some preparation to your loss.  No matter the circumstances, at the moment of truth when all was said and done, I'm sure that the grief pierced you like a multi-barbed arrow through your soul, spirit, and heart, and that you were never again the same after that moment.

What I want to do right now is to encourage you.  If you are newly widowed you probably can't see ahead to tomorrow. The thought of going forward with your life without your loved one is simply unthinkable.  If you've been walking in your widowhood for a while you still may not be able to see past the dark clouds, but you hope that a brighter day may one day re-emerge.

I can testify to you from my own experience that God has indeed been faithful. Although my heart will forever be scarred, He's carried me through this journey, and one day at a time I've been able to get past the darkness and walk into an ever brighter shining light.

This is the time to get to know Him on a more intimate level, to make Him an even more sure friend. Read the Word, pray, meditate, trust in Him, and cast your cares upon Him. No matter how long it takes, let Him have the pieces of your broken heart so that He can mend them and make you whole again.

Keep your focus on Him. It's a blessing to have encouragement and support from friends and family, but ultimately the true source of your encouragement, support, and hope will be found in God if you let Him.

Go to Him today and lay your hurt at His feet.  He's waiting for you. 

"He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Widow's Ark

 The Struggle

Every since I finally decided to get serious about pursuing the dream that God placed within me, to become a full-time professional freelance writer and author, I've struggled with the choice of which niche needed to be my specialty.

I have so many interests -- reading, writing, fitness, weight loss, music, etc., that it's been hard to decide where I want to focus. My primary blog, Danny's Angel Writes, is devoted to the promotion of spiritual and personal growth on an everyday practical basis and so is much more general in its approach to glorifying our Father. 

The Holy Spirit's Call

Try as I may, I haven't been able to shake the Holy Spirit's persistent call to sharing my experiences as a widow so that I may help someone else along the way.

My Husband, My Soulmate, My Best Friend

As many already know, through God's providence I met and married my soulmate, Danny, many years ago and we were blessed to dwell as husband and wife for 15 wonderful years. We were comrades in arms, advancing our Father's kingdom upon the earth, and his being called home at so relatively young an age in so unexpected a fashion was something for which I was totally unprepared. I simply didn't see it coming.

It's so appropriate that my first post on Widow's Ark should occur on the weekend of our wedding anniversary - July 5th. As I think back, I know that God used my husband not only to work a work in my life, but He's going to use His passing to sow a blessing in someone else's life.

I pray that you find a word here that eases your troubled spirit, helps your suffering, or points the way to a solution to a challenge that may have presented itself in your own widowhood.

Know that our God is faithful. You are not alone. If you cleave to Him He will scoop you up as a father lovingly embraces a small child, hold you to His bosom, and radiate all the benefits of His true and perfect love upon you.

The Conclusion ... or Shall I Say the Beginning?

With that reluctant sigh I give over to Him that He may fill me with the words He would have me to write, words that will both propel me to my destiny and point you to yours.

If I haven't already said so, I'm so sorry for your loss.  May God forever bless and keep you.  Give Him your hand. He'll guide you into His peace.

I promise.

I'm a witness.