Category Archives: grief

Post #1,499 – 10 Years A Widow: Non Sum Qualis Eram

 

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Today is the 10th anniversary of becoming a new creation. Ten years ago this morning Joe suffered a stroke caused by a blood vessel rupturing at the base of his brain.

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

I went kicking and screaming into this transformation. It is the day I came home from work, pressed the button on the answering machine and found out what Non Sum Qualis Eram truly means.

The History Behind Non 

My coworkers and I were sitting at our desks working crossword puzzles on a winter day when I worked for a savings and loan.  I do not remember the clue for the answer, but I looked up “Non Sum Qualis Eram” in the dictionary (this was BG – Before Google) and I discovered it meant

 

I am not what I used to be

 

I cracked up laughing. I told my coworker that is what I want on my tombstone – I am not what I used to be. It is true. When you die you are not what you used to be. You are a new creation.

Well, that is not what is on our marker out at the cemetery.

 

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Putting This Post Together

When I started putting this post together, I thought it would be how I summed up the last 10 years of being a widow instead of a wife.

 

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Instead, it begins a series of lessons, opinions, and observations based on my experiences during the past 10 years.  They are a mixture of good, bad, and ugly. They are intended to prepare you a teeny, tiny bit for what you may face if and when you become a widow. Because that is what I do best, educate, inspire, and train – just call me your Grief Cheerleader.

So come along with me on a journey of looking back and fondly remembering while moving forward with life as a new creation.

 

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Oh and if Non Sum Qualis Eram is not on our marker – what is? A line from Joe’s favorite song from The Phantom of the Opera:

 

Think of me, think of me fondly when we’ve said goodbye.

 

 

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of chocolate, red roses and golden retrievers and is an amateur photographer.

Remarriage: An Eye Opening Perspective

One of the books I’ve given grieving people is Healing After Loss; Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman. My copy was given to me by Joe’s Aunt at his wake. You read one page per day of this little book.

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The devotions are not geared towards any religion. There are quotes from authors, scriptures from the Bible and proverbs from other religions. After each quote, there are thoughts from the author and then at the end a one-sentence thought/prayer. I enjoyed reading this book and my copy is now in 2 pieces. It fell apart at April 17th, which is the day I started reading it.

Time For A Re-Read 

Since this year is the 10th anniversary of his passing and our 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to read this book again. Now for some reason January – March is much neglected. I do not know why and I’m kind of wishing I did not have this brilliant idea to read through it again because God showed me a different perspective on remarriage.

Today’s devotional is very brief but powerful and deals with the hole left behind by a loved one’s passing.

The quote is:

It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.

Goethe

Whitmore-Hickman’s thought is:

Not that we can’t tell the difference. Not that we are being disloyal. But if life gives us something else to do with all those impulses toward the one no longer with us, how can we not be grateful? It’s like an extra inheritance -a blessing even- from the one we have lost, going to someone else who needs what we have to give. So we are refreshed by the memory of the loved one, and at the same time offering a gift, creating a new relationship.

The thought/prayer is:

Keep me on the lookout for someone who needs me now. 

Ouch! God.

So the love and commitment I gave Joe in our marriage, needs to be given to someone else, a new relationship, with a new man. I never thought of remarriage that way until today.

Remarriage scares me. I am afraid I would get hitched to a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde type of person. He is sweet and loving until we are pronounced husband and wife. Plus, blending two households is a lot of work. Houses would have to be sold and a new one bought. He would have to get along with Joe’s family as well as mine, then I would have to get along with his family.  UGH!  Too much work, too much stress.

Yes, I know if the right person came along, all the work would be worth it.

Other Relationships

This devotional can be applied to any relationship and not just the loss of a spouse. If you lost a daughter, as Whitmore-Hickman did, then you find an opportunity to “mother” another child. Whether it is through a mentoring program such as Kid’s Hope, teaching Sunday School, or spending more time with the single neighbor lady’s child.

But obviously, I see this from the perspective of a widow and remarriage.

Still Recommend? 

It’s almost 10 years since I first read this book. I loved it then and I still love it and still recommend it. My suggestion is when you give this to someone, keep a copy for yourself and read it together. You could email each other daily or meet weekly to discuss the devotions. I know the grieving person would appreciate having someone walk through the devotional journey with him/her.

 

red-rose_signatureBio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills managing call center teams, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of red roses and golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

 

 

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth

Let’s be the HEROINES in our own wild, imperfect, glorious stories. Never the understudy for someone else’s. 

Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely is a collection of stories from Holley Gerth’s life packed with encouragement. This is Holley’s best book yet because of how vulnerable she is in sharing personal stories.

Every chapter beings with a powerful quote from other author’s such as Madeline L’Engle, Ann Voskamp, Kaitlyn Bouchillon and the late Kara Tippetts. Then Holley tells a story about a certain time in her life. Events from childhood to college to marriage through the present are told in a conversational tone with faith,  wisdom, and encouragement being woven throughout.

You will read stories about, a paddleboat, bone in a chicken, infertility, and depression among others.

Time Machine

Her stories transported me back in time to my childhood and while I didn’t have a paddleboat,  I had a saucer sled. My friends and I had plenty of fun with that saucer sled during the summer when using it with a piece of rope and a chestnut tree.

Holley’s words show you how you have already lived fully and love bravely, what you need to do now is figure out how to get back the fierceness you had that got lost in the business of everyday life.

Never Too Late

While all the quotes Holley chose to begin the chapters are excellent and contain their own wisdom, it is the quote at the beginning of the epilogue that spoke to me the most:

It’s never too late for a happily ever after.

Lovelle Gerth-Myers

Holley’s daughter

Lovelle is right. It really is never too late for a new beginning. The story Holley shares about Lovelle’s adoption proves it.

Holley’s book gives you the support and encouragement to get out there and live fully and love bravely. Whether you are widowed, divorced, or just feeling lost, this book is for you. Because you are already a fiercehearted woman, a heroine of your own God-ordained story,  you just don’t realize it yet.

Remember, your happily ever after is waiting.

Fiercehearted Manifesto

Here is what Holley wrote about fiercehearted women on a plane one day that became the inspiration for her book.

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Disclosure: It is a blessing to be on Holley’s book launch team and be a part of a wonderful team of women. You too will be blessed by reading Fiercehearted. After you do, go out and fully and bravely live and love so you too can say “it’s never too late for a happily ever after.”

FYI: I had a hard time writing this review because of all the words and phrases running through my head. I finally decided the words belong to several posts and not just one. So there will be more posts based on the subjects in Fiercehearted.

Widows: A Problem or A Calling?

 

My friend Ferree, from WidowsChristianPlace.com, posted One Widows Story: Widowhood Is Not A Mere Problem To Solve an article written by Lynda, one of Ferree’s Facebook friends.

The article tells the story about Lynda reading The Undistracted Widow, Living For God After Losing Your Husband by Carol W. Cornish. The book shed new light on being a widow – it is not a problem, but a calling. 

Wow! I understand that Joe’s timeline ended and mine did not, however I would have never used the word “calling” to describe being a widow. Calling is what happens to men and women who become pastors.

I was intrigued by the concept, and used my Amazon gift card from last Christmas to order the book. (Yes, it is mid-April and I still have an Amazon gift card from last Christmas.)

Appendix 2

Once it arrived I looked at the table of contents and was intrigued by Appendix 2 – The Local Church and Its Widows. Ms. Cornish nails the topic and opened my eyes to a different way of seeing churches (more on that later).

I’ve since started reading from the beginning and a full review of The Undistracted Widow will be published once I finish it.

A Nun Named Maria

Are you a nun named Maria?

Me neither.

Then we are not a problems to be solved.

For some reason we were called to be widows, called for such a time as this. Now how are we going to glorify God in this season of our lives?

And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

Esther 4:14

(ESV)

 

 

 

Thoughts and a Story About Life – Finale – Lemons Into Lemonade

Lemons Into Lemonade

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10

God is excellent at making lemonade out of lemons. There is nothing that happens that He will not turn into good because He is God and that is what He does.

StrengthsFinder 2.0

Several years ago I took the StrengthsFinder 2.0 quiz. One of my strengths is Connectedness:

Description: “People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a reason.”

“Fortifying the bonds between yourself, the people you know, or even those you will never meet gives your life special meaning.”

“You consider various ways to initiate, nurture, and sustain the linkages between individuals and groups. You bring people together. You help them discover reasons to cooperate and support one another.”

Had vs For

Did the particular bad event such as cancer, divorce or job loss have to happen – no.

Did the event happen for a reason – yes.

What Reason?

What good could possibly come out of brain cancer?  I do not know.  It is God’s job to know what good will come from such an evil diagnosis.

When

When will He make lemonade out of an illness, divorce, or unemployment? I do not know.

It is God’s job to know when something good will happen.

Not Permitted To Know

There are some things we are not permitted to know. We try to be God all the time, but we are not. He never designed us to know and understand everything that He does.

This is where faith comes in. It painful and frustrating waiting for Him take a bad situation and make something good out of it. I get that, been there done that (and not just with Joe’s passing).

We want it now but all things happen in His time.

Waiting

Faith is what gets us through the waiting period. It is painful and frustrating waiting for Him to take a bad situation and make something good out of it.

Sometimes we do not see the good or His presence until we look back over the past. Then we see God’s handiwork woven throughout the tough days, weeks, months or years.

We might not see His handiwork until we get to heaven.

I have faith we will know the answers to “what” and “when” but only when God decides to reveal them.

In the meantime He will give us the strength to persevere one day at a time and HIs strength is often times found when we are still before Him.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

thinbutterfly

10-10-2011_3by5Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She encourages widows and educates society about grief and life as a widow by sharing her widowhood adventures. A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications, she has used her skills in the banking, collections, outdoor products and social media industries. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com.

Thoughts and Stories About Life – Part 3 – The Dash

The Dash

I believe God is with us in between the time of our birth and death – the “dash” phase of life. Only He knows the length of the “dash.”

During our life He lets us make choices because that is how we learn and grow. He is with us when we make the bad choices and when we do He lets us suffer the consequences of our actions.

He also celebrates with us in the good times and He is with us as we go through our day. Even doing the mundane tasks of laundry, dishes, and scrubbing the toilet bowl. Where do you think the reminder to get more toilet cleaner comes from?

We Are Not Puppets

He will not force us to do his will day in and day out as that would mean we are His puppets. If we were his puppets, life would be perfect because God would be pulling the strings.

His will for all of us is to become a person who shines His light into this dark, dreary and depressing world. A person whom other people want to emulate because they see us living like Jesus and serving others. God’s will for us is not tied to specific job, house or person.

He will grow us into the person He wants us to be no matter what decisions we make regarding our lives.

The Only Words I’ve Heard

I’ve only heard His voice once and that was the morning the Holy Spirit whispered “widow’s website” into my ear just as I was starting to wake up.

That’s it folks. That is the only time I heard directly from God via the Holy Spirit.

And don’t tell me to be still, listen and pray – because I did and still do.

I did not have to follow through on those words, that decision was up to me. It still took me awhile to create this site but I eventually did it. If I did not create JoyReturns, God would have that decision to grow me.

However, both He and I are glad I did create this blog.

Other Decisions

These are just 3 of the many, many decisions I’ve made in life.

  • I made the decision to move to Texas because Penney’s wanted nothing to do with me and only gave me 4 hours work for one week. Then they had the nerve to get mad because I decided not to come back to Ohio. If God was a puppet master, He would have forced them to hire me.
  • I made the decision to move back to Ohio because the Fed’s were closing savings and loans every Friday, EDS had a huge layoff and Frito Lay had a huge layoff all of which flooded the Texas job market. If God was a puppet master, I would have easily found a new job.
  • I made the decision to date and marry Joe. When  I did, God knew when I would become a widow. If he was a puppet master He would have stopped the wedding, or He would have prevented Joe from moving to heaven.

But He never interferred.

Was He with me during those times – yes. He was there to comfort me, to guide me but never to manipulate me.

You Too

He will be there for you as well no matter what circumstances are happening in your life. Make no mistake, He will not manipulate you or the people in your life.

The only thing that can grow when you are a puppet is your nose, your character can not.

God is in the character building business.

So make those decisions in this “dash” phase of life with all the confidence in knowing that God is with you and will use those decisions to make you more like Him.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

Matthew 1:23

thinbutterfly

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Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She encourages widows and educates society about grief and life as a widow by sharing her widowhood adventures. A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications, she has used her skills in the banking, collections, outdoor products and social media industries. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com.

Some Thoughts on Life – Part 2 – Predestination

This week I am running a series of thoughts that were inspired by an article my dear friend Gabriana sent me. The article even caused me to remember yesterday’s story.

I read the article and words freely flowed and turned into blog posts. I considered putting everything into one long post but thought that might be a bit much, so I decided to turn them into bite size nuggets.

Here is today’s thought.

Predestination

I believe in predestination.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:16

He knew when Joe would be born and when he would move to heaven. God knows the same information about each one of us and the generations coming after us.

Neither Joe nor I could have prevented his passing.

The only thing we are able to do is control the quality of our mental, physical and spiritual health while we are here on earth.

thinbutterfly

10-10-2011_3by5Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She encourages widows and educates society about grief and life as a widow by sharing her widowhood adventures. A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications, she has used her skills in the banking, collections, outdoor products and social media industries. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com.

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