Thursday, November 24, 2011

My First Thanksgiving as a Widow

It's here. Another of the many days I've been awaiting with guarded anticipation. My first Thanksgiving as a widow. In truth, I don't like this place I find myself. I don't like being a 39-year-old widow (yes - I'm still 39 for another month or so...ha!). I see the Norman Rockwell paintings of families on Thanksgiving Day, and mine looks nothing like that. But, God's plans for me are better...always better! I'm trusting in that fully. I don't have to like it, but I love Him, and I trust Him. And so...I CHOOSE to be thankful today.

In reflecting on this first Thanksgiving as a widow, I made a list of 10 things I'm so thankful for. Sure - there are many, many more. But, here are 10! I also asked another new widow friend of mine if she would consider sharing 10 things that she's also thankful for on this, her first Thanksgiving without her hubby by her side, also. Cindy Cain said she would be delighted to do so. Interestingly...ours are similar in many respects! :-)

It is our desire that no matter what you've gone through this year, what you're enduring right now, what tragedies might be creeping up to your doorstep even as this is typed...our prayer is that you can CHOOSE to be thankful despite these circumstances. And know...PLEASE know...God loves you so much, and His plans are ALWAYS better, even if that's hard to see right now.

My friend, Cindy Cain
Cindy Cain – 10 Things I am Thankful for Despite Loss:
1 – Reflecting on this year, I cannot help but to list the thing I am most thankful for - my relationship with my Savior. The motto that my husband and I lived by is: “Through It All, Faith”. Well, this year I am thankful that Through It All, God Is Faithful!!!! No matter what, God is Faithful.

2 – This year, more than ever, I am thankful for the gift of adoption and my two sons. God chose them for us, and I could not be more thankful for the precious ones He placed in my life.

3 – I am thankful for being blessed with more than 30 years of living life with my beloved, who now spends his days with Jesus. Though the past 11 months have been extremely difficult, I cannot help but be thankful for all of the years we had together, for the memories those years hold and for a sound mind that is able to recall those treasured moments.

4 – How could I not be thankful for the beautiful granddaughters God has given to my family and of course the blessing of another grandchild coming in May 2012? They are precious reminders of His Faithfulness and Love.

5 – Freedom! Though the freedom we have to worship openly in the United States is being challenged on a daily basis, I am still grateful for its viability.

6 – Provision! God does not promise that we will never have trials or tribulations but He does promise to provide our needs as we walk this journey on earth. This year He has not only provided our needs, He has also chosen to bless us in creative ways that could only come from His hand.

7 – Work! Yes, I am thankful for work! It is a privilege to get up 4 days a week and join a group of ladies who have one purpose for their day and that is to minister to the needs of sick children and their families. I am grateful for my job and the blessings it provides in my life.

8 – Peace! In the midst of unspeakable pain God has given me peace. Peace in knowing that He is more than enough No. Matter. What!!

9 – Opportunities! While I have spent a good amount of time shedding tears of loss and sadness, God has given me numerous opportunities to worship Him and glorify Him through my grief walk. He has also given me opportunities to be a light in a lost and hurting world by trusting Him to walk this journey with me while allowing others to be blessed through sharing, caring and being available to speak truth into their lives.

10 – JOY! Though true Joy has come in small doses during the past 11 months, I am continually thankful for its presence. Understanding the difference between joy and happiness has been a learning process. Within the unhappy moments of my life there is an underlying Joy which pulses from the depths of my soul. It comes from a knowing that God is in control and this life is but a momentary blip of my forever with Him. For that Joy and promise I am most thankful.

Chris & Me - Thanksgiving Day 2007
Ten Things I'm Thankful for on This First Thanksgiving as a Widow:
1 - My Savior. Without Him, I am nothing. I could never walk this Grief Road without Him. He is my Life Preserver. My Anchor. He is my source of Pure Joy.

2 - Anna. My beautiful daughter. Her laughter and her smile lights up my life. Her passion for the poor at such a young age astounds me. Her love for the Lord is contagious. Sure - she's imperfect, but she's perfect for me! God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed her in my life!

3 - My support network of friends and family. Astounding. Amazing. God has blessed my socks off with love from people all over this world (YES - world!). I am totally undeserving of this kind of love being poured out upon me, but I am oh so very thankful!

4 - My country. Granted, things are a bit of a mess right now, but I'm still proud to be an American. I'm still thankful that I can profess the name of Christ without being in fear for my life. That I can worship corporately and publicly and not hidden out of fear.

5 - My job at Blue Ridge Broadcasting. It was no "coincidence" that I received an offer to go to work for this blessed organization on the very day that Chris took his life. Even on the day that my heart was about to be shattered by the one I love, the One that loves me most was already weaving together His next step in His greater plan for me.

6 - Ministry opportunities. WOW! Just WOW! God is beginning to open doors for me that I never dreamed would be open again or even for the first time. And, what He's revealing to me is that NOW is the time He's been preparing me for...NOW is the time He's planning to use me to minister to others in very unique ways. I no longer ask "why now?"...I just walk through the doors He tells me to walk through.

7 - Grief. Yes - I'm thankful for this emotional monster. With it, I am learning to be more mercy-filled and compassionate. With it, I am more understanding of others going through similar journeys. With it, I am more patient. With it, I am more humble. With it, I am learning and trying to be more Christ-like.

8 - Heaven. I've always looked forward to Heaven, but now I LONG for Heaven. I dream of Heaven. I can't wait for Heaven. And...I'm so thankful that this life is just a smidgen of time compared to eternity. And to think...God is preparing a place for me RIGHT NOW...a very special place! I'm so thankful to have Heaven to look forward to. Thank you Jesus for saving me!

9 - Laughter. Oh, I am so thankful for laughter. God has truly surrounded me with people that know how to make me laugh. It truly is healing medicine for me!

10 - You. Yes...I'm thankful for you. I'm astounded that so many of you continue to stop by here as often as you do and take time to read the little nuggets that I write (depressing as they are sometimes). You encourage me. You uplift me. You delight me. You keep me going on difficult days. You are being the hands and feet of Jesus to me! Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!


  1. Thankful for YOU, too, Leah and your openness to share yourself with all of us. Your insight through this grief journey is glorifying Christ and opening hearts. Praying for you today!

  2. Thank you Leah, for sharing your heart and allowing me to share a piece of mine. Praying for you on this day! Cindy

  3. Leah, you are both blessed and a blessing! Thank you for always sharing your heart and the hope that is in you, even in difficult times. And Happy Thanksgiving to you and Anna!

  4. Everyday, I am thankful for so many things. And only Christ-followers can truly list grief, struggles, challenges & heartache as things to be thankful for. Rick just finished "heaven' by Randy Alcorn & I'm starting it. I know it will only increase my own yearning for that special place He is preparing for me. Thankful we'll be there together! :~)<3

  5. Both of these lists are beautiful. Thank you both for sharing your hearts and blessing us as we read.