Monday, October 18, 2021

Habits Help

purchased at Kirklands 
earlier this year


He who gives attention to the Word

will find good, and

blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

Proverbs 16:20

Another week has gone by, reminding me of how much time has passed since Beloved was taken to Glory. I can hardly believe it's nearing eleven  months and yet I have to truly marvel that things are so good for me. 

the grass has not died

my sprinklers are working

bills are paid up with some to put into savings

the car's recent maintenance check was good

updates on my iPhone were successful

my physical health is very good

nobody has checked me into the Funny Farm

... listing just a few of my blessings. 

I remember last November when Beloved's doctor began to hint things were not going well, I was in the yard angrily pulling weeds out of the rock bed next to the house. Hot tears were streaming down my face as the very beginning thoughts of what it might be like to go on living without my husband began to break my heart. 

Shortly after that, the news seemed better, but that turned out to be what I can now label as a "false positive" report. My worst fears suddenly slammed me like a hard gut punch and I've been reeling to one extent or another ever since.

The LORD makes firm the steps

of the one who delights in Him.

Psalm 37:23

But even having said that, as I review the past months, it is clear the Lord has been with me, protecting, enabling, speaking, comforting. One example is baking cookies. My GriefShare counselor told me when my mind is stuck on something that produces profuse tears, I need to busy myself with something that requires concentration. She said a walk is not the solution because one can continue to ruminate over the sadness with walking. Do something that needs focus, like baking from scratch. 

peanut butter cookies
for the grandkids

That helps. It does. When one reaches the place where they are tired of the perpetual tears, focused concentration on something that requires accuracy to be successful -- that's a good option.

Trying new things is suggested often in grief counseling. I found that to be a challenge for me. My "want to" was sorely lacking as I've learned I'm much more of a "fraidy cat" than I knew before this all happened. But again, as time has worn on, and dwelling on the sad was becoming an odd sense of comfort and seclusion, I made myself try new things.

I signed on to be a greeter at church, something I've wanted to do for a long time but always had other responsibilities that required me to be in other parts of the building than the doors of the church. Of course this particular avenue of service requires a smile and a cheery greeting for all who come by. I'm managing to do that and it's fun being a "doorkeeper in the house of the Lord." (Psalm 84:10)

trying out our new Culver's

I've become more brave about dining by myself, although I continue to be very selective about that. I eschew sit-down restaurants with menus because I feel like I stand out all by myself in a booth (although some of my widow friends like that). I choose casual dining where you order and then sit down, always locating a table for two tucked into a corner or up against a wall. My companion is a book to take the place of conversation.

Mornings typically are the hardest part of the day, as my single friends have agreed. Thank God, the early hours are much better than they were. I start by kneeling beside my bed the night before to sincerely ask the Lord for good sleep, restorative rest, and to go before my first-of-the-morning thoughts. 

Then as I get out of bed, I have automatic habits requiring some physical exertion to warm up my brain, so to speak. I make my bed, prepare a cup of green tea (followed by a cup of coffee), and spend as much time as the day's schedule will permit reading scripture and praying. 

Lately I've been following advice by Christian TV host and author, Sheila Walsh, who says reading ALOUD three Psalms is very helpful. Simple enough. Hearing the Word, as well as reading it, buoys the spirit in surprising ways. 

For the LORD loves the just and 

will not forsake His faithful ones.

Psalm 37:28

After time in the Word and always praying the Lord will prepare me for whatever I'll see when I turn on social media (as we all know, ugly surprises are not unusual these days), I enter the kitchen, turn on the computer and my phone, allowing them to warm  up while I make my breakfast. 

Habits are helpful. They help us gauge where we are in our day, telling us if we need to pick up the pace or slow down, plus they just tell us what to do.

On weekends, which can be another very difficult time for the lonely, I'm setting in motion special habits to encourage cheer. 

On weekend evenings I turn on the white twinkly lights on my fake tree in the family room. They say "party" to me and although I am not feeling like a celebration, there is reason to be cheerful for another week of survival. I come up with something fun to eat for my supper and (more often these days than before) will turn on a pleasant movie for entertainment before bedtime.

One of my friends posted this graphic by Ann Voskamp on FaceBook recently. It acknowledges the hard places but says God "softens the edges with redeeming grace." 

In grief there are many of those hard places but to trust the Lord to soften those edges is a huge comfort. I've seen Him do it for me time after time after time.

The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;

He is their stronghold in time of trouble.

The LORD helps them and delivers them;

He delivers them from the wicked and 

saves them because they take refuge in Him.

Psalm 37:39-40

The days are getting a little easier with each passing month. I didn't think I would ever see the day.... I really didn't. Friendships help so much. I am meeting them at coffee shops, Bible studies, outdoor walks, and such.

While I don't have conversations with the dead (the Bible is very clear about the sin of that; see Deuteronomy 18:10-13), I do nod at Beloved's picture from time to time in acknowledgement of some private joke we had and thank God for having given me such a good man and a successful marriage. 

I also ponder about that "great cloud of witnesses" in heaven (see Hebrews 12:1) who can see what's going on down here. I am not alone. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Grace and peace to you.


  1. You are so brave, Barbara, truly you are. I keep you and Terri in prayer. Now, onto a nice smile; "nobody has checked me into the Funny Farm"--you know, I say this everyday and my husband and son go, "Keep it up and we will." ((big grin)). Thank you for your truthfulness, I truly appreciate it. Much love and hugs.

  2. Another precious, touching post. As I've said so many times, I've so appreciate your sharing your journey of grief with us. It has been so inspiring to me and, should I ever face the loss of Tommy, I pray I can be as brave and inspiring as you have been. Wishing you a beautiful new week!

  3. Love that you are sharing your journey. I know many are in your situation and your words are an encouragement. Praying that you have a wonderful week.

  4. Thank you for another positive and uplifting post that gives us a glimpse into your reality each day, and helps us to think of you in prayer at different times throughout the day. I am so thankful that God has been your constant companion throughout this journey, and that you know you are never ever really alone. Daily conversations with Jesus are totally acceptable, and a smile and nod and blown kiss to your beloved is not a bad thing, perhaps just a way to realize that heaven isn't really all that far away. As I stated in my post today, it literally is only a breath away. And that cloud of witnesses is up there cheering us onward and upward. One day at a step at a time. God is with you all the way. Praise God.

  5. Your journey has been so lifting to your readers dear Barbara as we get to read first hand at how the lifter of your head is holding you so closely to Himself. I am amazed at times in my own life at how He sustains us especially during difficult times. Your peanut butter cookies look so good! YUM! We surely was thinking alike this weekend wasn't we? I love Sheila Walsh and taught one of her studies. And my mercy am I a fan of Ann V. I have never dined alone dear Barbara but I had a friend tell me once, after loosing her dear husband, that the biggest leap of faith she found was to walk inside a place to eat without him. She said in the 47 years they had been married that she had never dined alone. That was 3 years ago and now she enjoys it as she calls it her "time along with God". God bless you for always being faithful to share your journey with us. I pray for you so very often. One day we will meet in person. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

  6. You are so good to share with us here and you are able to express your grief journey so well, Barb. Our lives are different but our journey through the loss of our husbands follow much the same path. I think my job helps my mornings because I have to get up and go. I do still have pictures of Joe and admit to blowing a kiss now and then - but never expecting a response. He has gone before me to a much better place and I am just happy thinking of him there, not hurting anymore. I think both Tom and Joe are happy with us, Barb. I am so blessed by your friendship and by the story you share with us here. Love you!! xo

  7. Good solid advice Barbara...not only for the grieving but those who are depressed and struggling. Keep up your blogging, you are making a difference dear friend.

  8. Such good advice for all believers here, Barbara. I have another friend who is now a widow as of last Tuesday. Hugs and prayers for you.

  9. I so appreciate you sharing with honesty how you are doing, and it's a wonderful testimony of how God cares for us. I think we can all learn from what you share, even if we have not lost someone dear to us. We all have hard things in life, and your encouraging words of God's faithfulness touch my heart.

  10. You are an inspiration. I hope that one day, if my husband should go before me, that I will be able to carry on like you have. Many widows do not fair so well. After my dad died in 2007, my mom committed suicide. So I am encouraged to see others who continue to live - I want to be like you!

    Actually I hope I go before my husband but that’s up to the good Lord.

  11. When reading your post here today, Barbara, I marvel at just how far you've come on this grief journey. Yes, habits help us to put that one foot in front of the other, even when we don't particularly feel like it, and I'm glad that you are slowly but surely trying new things. Beloved would want it this way, I do believe, and he would be so proud!

  12. Having habits or routine is a good thing and not only for those who are grieving or struggling. Thank you for your truthfulness and keeping it real as you navigate, Barbara. Thinking of you.

  13. It's hard to make new habits and figure out how to live without your precious husband. It's been a hard year but you've done so well. I pray for you still and I'm glad you have so many blessings and appreciate each and every one. Take care and enjoy this beautiful weather!

  14. Telling your loved one you miss love him...that is not conversing with the dead as those who profess to be able to do so...that is to walking...when I am upset or stressed, I walk...(I walked 1900 miles with steps last year with these bone diseases...) this year won't reach that goal...however, walking is good for your mental, emotional, and physical well being. The year of 1992, when my world collapsed...I walked until I could walk no not only is it a stress relief, it is just good for me. You still amaze those who read your are taking one day at a I write on the snail mail to those in my Texting prayer those friends who have lost their husbands this year, their sons, and others...One Day At A time, Sweet Jesus, That's all I am asking from that has gotten me through more than most could ever imagine in one life time...however, we don't moan or whine or complain...we are strong women...those of us born in 1940's especially and soon after...we have endured...we keep on going and going and going...our families love us and care for us...thank you for your and Terri are both to be admired by many...prayers prayers prayers

  15. P.S> In the year 1992, when I experienced 7 of the tragedies in life that keep us from moving on, I went to college full time, got the first of many degrees...was offered a million teaching jobs...did that for almost 20 career...we can do it.

  16. I really loved this post. Your honesty, but also your determination to go forth and make each day positive. You are doing a great job. You already have the one thing you need most: The Lord. Hugs to you.

  17. Habits definitely help--and baking does, too :) I remember telling my former coworkers that I baked when I was under stress. So, as you can imagine, they were always trying to stress me out so I would go home and bake some goodies for them to bring to work the next day! But, seriously, Barbara... I can hardly believe it's been almost a year since Tom has been gone. You have come so far and I think it's been helpful for many to watch how you've worked through and coped with your grief. I know there will always be an empty spot until you two are reunited, but, until that day, know that we are all praying for you and sending positive thoughts your way ♥