Hope You’re Rockin’ Around ~ the Christmas tree

J's Biker Jacket

In the new old fashioned way.

When I got up to feed the strays it was 40 degrees in Jacksonville (with a feels like of 38). That’s when Floridians start thinking of wintering in the Caribbean. It had dropped to the mid 30s overnight. It was cold and damp…a breeze coming off the Atlantic and up the St. John’s River. I’m closer to the river than the beach.

I had been meaning to give my late husband Joseph’s biker jacket to Goodwill since I only wore it once last year. That was right before Christmas, when I went to see Deck the Chairs in Jacksonville Beach with my daughter Victoria and Lynn Woods Rix writing as Dalyn Woods. It was cold that night This year, I wanted to let someone get some use out of the jacket, but Joseph had loved it even though he didn’t have a Harley, not even a motor scooter. It made him feel a little like James Dean. I must confess, when I wear it some of that James Dean spirit rubs off on me too. There’s just something about a well-worn, broken in biker jacket.

Joseph passed away on December 8th three years ago. I’m seeing a lot of memes about how to treat a person who is mourning at Christmas. Should you bring up the loved one who is gone? Should you tip-toe around it? If you care for your loved one who is in mourning, they will know you care. You might say the wrong thing. If you’re a believer, you might say, “He/she’s in heaven with Jesus,” when all your loved one wants is for them to be back here, even for a moment. We all say the wrong thing in situations like this. Your loved one knows that. Your loved one has also said the wrong things. It means you’re human.

So, what should you do? What should you say at Christmas to a loved one who’s heart is aching (and mourning goes on for years)? Say, “I love you lots.” Call them, tweet them, private message them, email them, send them cute, light-hearted memes, send them a Christmas card. For a person in mourning, the hours can creep slowly by, feeling empty. Fill some of that empty space up…in a gentle, gentle way saying “I love you.” “I’m thinking of you.” Don’t pressure them to be part of the holly-jolly spirit of Christmas, but leave the door open to them if they’d like to join in. You might be surprised. They might have no place to celebrate and would love to be part of your Christmas.

…casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. ~ 1 Peter 5:7 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

JDC Xmas 2013-3
Joseph, Christmas morning 2012, before coffee
JDC Waldorf Astoria-Boca
Boca Raton, vacay 2011

Flying Solo ~ so, what’s that about?

Fighter Piolot

Party of One.

Flying Solo doesn’t mean there are no other people around. It means you alone are in the cockpit flying the craft. The fighter pilot has a ground crew, yet, when he’s at the controls, it must often feel as if he is alone. As believers, we are in the army of God, and for some of us who have lost a mate, who have prayed for a mate and are still single, whose mate has repeatedly and consistently been unfaithful or alcoholic or drug addicted or addicted to pornography, those who have outlived all their relatives and friends, or for some other reason are living alone…the reality might be we are flying solo. And we really are. It’s not just a cute statement. We go home and we’re cooking for one, watching TV alone, sleeping alone in the bed. An individual can be in assisted living or in a nursing home surrounded by people and still be solo.

Flying Solo also doesn’t mean that there is no radar system. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit and we must develop a closer relationship with God. That’s an absolute if you are flying solo. You need the best guidance system you can possibly have and that starts with making Jesus the Lord of your life, and getting into the manufacturer’s manual…the Bible.

I’ve been a widow for nearly four years, yet it was only about six months ago that it hit me, as if I’d slammed into a wall, that I was flying solo and what that really meant. I wish I could say I handled it in a delightfully pretty and delectably appropriate manner. I didn’t. Still, I’m pretty stoic. I kept functioning. My house was clean, I fed my strays every morning and my inside cats, walked Sophie the Wonder Dog twice a day and fed her. Published my latest murder mystery release by the deadline. But, but…emotionally, I was messy, messy, messy.

Of course, I went to ‘my’ default. Whining. I whined to friends and associates. And mostly, I whined to God. And I heard very clearly in my spirit that I should pay attention to my feelings and actions because God had given me the gift of writing and my assignment was to write about flying solo for the purpose of helping other people. So, I whined about THAT to God. I’m pretty sure the Bible says, “Whining endureth for a season.” It’s probably in the Taylor Swift translation.

So, what have I learned about flying solo in the last six months? To go back to the basics.

PRAY. Pray for yourself, bless your house, your pets, put a prayerful hedge or protection around yourself and what’s yours. Talk to God. It’s okay to have an out-loud, running convo with God. Talk to Him as if He’s an older, wiser friend, a father, a brother. He’s all that. Pray for others. Pray for their healing, prosperity, the health and protection of their children. Pray for the nation. Keep it up and soon you’ll become a prayer warrior without even trying.

KEEP AFTER THE DETAILS. Get up, get dressed, eat nutritious meals. Keep your home/surroundings in good order. God loves you. Take care of yourself. And, as much as you can, surround yourself with the things you love.

KEEP IN TOUCH. You have a phone, so use it. Phone, text, and/or email friends and associates. Get involved on social media. Facebook has groups you can join. So do other social media platforms.

GO OUT. Don’t stay trapped in your home. Go to church…and also to the mid-week service. Don’t have a church? Go church shopping for a few weeks or months until you find one that’s warm, comfy, and welcoming for this stage of your life. Get your hair cut and/or styled regularly and start a convo with your stylist. Go to the library, sit, read some magazines, recipe books, holiday decorating books, health and beauty books. Ask the librarian to guide you. Start a dialog, but a quiet one…it’s the library.

I hope this is helpful. I’ll be praying for everyone who subscribes and /or reads this blog.

Reno On My New Condo ~ life surging forward!

I moved to Jacksonville from Brooklyn (NYC) over two years ago and have been looking (on and off) for a new home…and soon realized I was in need of a condo. I am through with yard work and hiring handymen to do outdoor upkeep on the house. Through, I say! Through! I finally found the perfect spot for me in the Old Mandarin neighborhood.

Hebrews 3:4 [New American Standard Bible] ~ For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

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I decided on this condo in large part because of the beautiful tiled floors and fireplace. Of course the existing ceiling fan had to be swapped out for a new one, same thing with the small chandelier in the dining room area of the open living space.

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Ray, a friend of Christian author Dalyn Woods, is doing my reno. Here he’s working on the electric outlet in my daughter Victoria’s room.

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Another shot of Victoria’s room.

 

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The master bedroom after the first coat of paint. The bar stools for the counter off the kitchen were given a dark stain. We got them through Offer Up at $5 each.

When I take a breath after painting a door, or trim (Victoria has slathered white over the walls), I realized I’m a further step away from Brooklyn and my late-husband,, both physically and metaphorically. After two years, the bad days come much, much less frequently. Life does go on. The move is fun and exciting, but I can’t wait for the work to be done so we can settle in.

 

A New Year! Are You Enough Without Him? ~ widowhood

2017-2018, femaleI recently had to decide whether to purchase an extended warranty for my husband’s car, which I now drive. I called an umpteen number of people asking their advice on extended warranties. I stressed and called a few more people. I prayed about it and stressed some more. In the end, I had to make the decision alone. Just me.

Disclaimer: Widows aren’t the only women who have to make important life decisions alone. Divorced women do and so do single women.

Disclaimer #2: Not all widows have ultra-loving feelings toward their deceased husbands. Some husbands were serial lotharios, abusive, gamblers, alcoholic or drug addicted. In many cases it’s complicated. He was overbearing, but a good provider. He wasn’t romantic or complimentary but was an excellent father.

My friend Carol, who moved to the west coast, adored Richard, her second husband. However, when he got extremely ill, he became difficult. As his physicality worsened, so did his mental capacity and he said mean things to her. Ten years older than me, and having lived in NYC most of her life where she took public transportation, she didn’t drive. Living near Seattle at that time, she called a taxi and went to the hospital almost every day to be with him. When she returned home, she usually phoned me. Being a blunt Brooklynite, she’d often shout something like this: “I’m gonna kill him if he doesn’t die first.” When Richard passed, the stress of his illness was forgotten. As far as she was concerned he was the best man who had ever walked the earth. She is also gone now, and I miss her terribly.

Whether the marriage was a dream come true, or something much more complex, when he dies, the wife is alone. She may find she’s now a fifth wheel when in the company of other couples they had socialized with. The company of other widows and single women can be a blessing. Within a posse of women without men, you can more comfortably say krazy-widow things and confess to having freaky-widow feelings.

Entering a new year can be difficult for women who are alone. Hanging a new calendar on the wall or opening a new datebook only reminds them how forlorn they sometimes feel. Those feelings of desolation are much worse for a widow than for a divorced woman whose husband is still running around (pun intended). No matter how wonderful or ignoble her husband was, he is no more. She can’t hold him, hug him, laugh with him, or argue with him, as the case may be.

Still, it is a new year and getting through it will be much easier with gal-pals. I feel more than blessed to have found a group of Christian women friends who are joyous. Laughing is the norm in our get-togethers. Upon learning Logan’s Steakhouse had power after Hurrican Irma knocked out electric for three days, Lynn, Charlotte, her daughter and I cracked sweaty-body jokes and laughed so hard other diners stared at us. We were so grateful just to get a cooked meal. Okay, they’re not simply joyous, they’re as nutty as I am. Let me tell you, when you’re a widow, zany friends are good, very good. Laughter breaks through the solitude and there’s lots of solitude. So, widows, get yourselves some fun-loving, single women friends. It’ll do you good.

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22 [KJV]