The Decision Is Ours

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It may take years to get to the point where the bad days don’t leave us feeling defeated. Just know, one day you may be ready to open your mind to those bad days and how they may positively define you through your walk in widowhood or any bad circumstance. It’s a journey, not a marathon!

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Rainbows All Around Me

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I saw that there was an amazing rainbow in Chicago yesterday. I’ve taken so many snaps of rainbows through my journey. This one in Chicago is amazing..but mine have been more amazing in my opinion along my journey and that’s because they were meant for me.

A rainbow is a sign of hope and peace and they certainly do bring those feelings for me.

My husband was an organ donor. He and our families chose to give the ultimate gift to five others waiting for their miracle. The night before my husbands organs were to be taken, there was a beautiful storm. He was a storm chaser, so that is why I call it a beautiful storm. The heavens were rolling. The thunder and lighting were loud and amazing..though nothing at the time was amazing. I remember thinking, this storm is for him! He would have had me in the truck, chasing the heart of it. After the storm was the most amazing rainbow. I wish I had a picture.

The next day was the worst day of my life. I woke up at my best friends house, because I could not sleep alone in our bed. I can’t explain the pain of knowing he was gone, of waking up with such a heaviness in my heart, thinking of him on that operating table knowing his organs were being prepared for someone else, knowing this was real and he was gone. My heart had left my body at that time.

I went home and took my first shower and dressed myself. I looked in the mirror and I truly couldn’t see myself, I looked so different. It’s crazy what you remember, but it’s so vivid for me those days..I know down to my shoes what I wore that day. I can see myself, which is hard to see. I was so broken. I drove to the airport. The jets were flying into the DeKalb airport and our families could come. Gift of Hope was so amazing and compassionate to us. I remember standing on the side of the runway, unbelieving. Looking at my life and thinking how can this be happening. Coolers, there were coolers with my husbands heart, lungs, kidneys. Regular coolers. There were two jets with life flight nurses and pilots. Amazing and again compassionate people. The pilot autographed a photo, which I have tucked away, not sure if it’s a memento I want to look back at, but I have it still. In between those jets though was a perfect rainbow. A rainbow that in such a hard time had me believe he sent it for me, for our families. Telling us I’m ok, be ok.

Even writing this I have tears flowing. Life is hard…so hard..but what’s so awesome about it is knowing true and real love…feeling so much that it, makes you feel. I wouldn’t trade my life for one second. As hard as saying goodbye was, it was equally hard to start again..but i did and not without struggle, or continued struggles. Life is just that and we should not waste it.

Grabbing that cooler handle that had Johns heart in it was something I will never forget. I released my husbands heart to the care of that jet and nurses to take to that family waiting so desperately on the other end. I cannot tell you how hard that was, even though I did feel for them and think of them and the anticipation and hope they were feeling in that moment. It gave me peace in a way that he helped so many live, though I had no real peace since he was not with me, or us.

I can say I am so very thankful. What we had was real and true even if it was taken too soon. I’m proud of him and us. I think he would be very happy for me and how I have chosen to honor him and myself by living. I’m thankful for how he taught me to love and live so openly. I never imagined being his widow. I’m truly thankful for my second hubby and where we are at now, how much he supports and loves me through my journey and how blessed we are with our girls. I never have to hide who I am, nor would I for anyone and that feels good. #widow #widowhood #awidowsworld #lovedeeply #lovetruly #giftofhope

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Have Courage

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Courage! Having the courage to step out and take action can be so hard sometimes. Truly though, the decision leading up to you actually taking that first step is the hardest, isn’t it?

Don’t we all agonize over just that part.

Once we take the leap, doesn’t everything have a way of working it self out? Maybe not the way we expected, but somehow it could lead to something better than we could have hoped for. That is at least what I have experienced.

Obstacles will always be in front of us, but I guess for me, the having no regrets part is the biggest thing. If you don’t follow your heart, I will ask you this, how can you truly be whole?

If you are struggling with something today, I would say, trust in yourself! Listen to your heart and where it is leading you. Don’t make a decision impulsively or hastily (I know this from experience), think things through, but not to the point you drive yourself or others around you mad (I know this from experience also haha) :). If you are constantly worrying or doubting what’s ahead, give it up to god and start praying for the signs to lead you to your whats next.

Comment below #iwillhavecourage if you are going to commit to figuring out your next step!

Pictured are my daughters who teach me what courage means everyday. If I had not had the courage to start again, I would not know the amazing love and joy they would add to my life. I commit to raising these two to be strong woman who are confident in themselves and go after their dreams. #lovinglife #addelise #widow #courage #awidowsworld #rebuilding #livingthroughloss

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Positive Encounters

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Every encounter in life matters. Every encounter leaves us with a chance to reflect looking at where we have been, where we are now and where we want to be!
I have had several encounters over the last couple weeks that really allowed me to stop and look back at my former broken self and see where I am today. The biggest thing I have seen lately is how so many things are being revealed to me. It is because I have opened my heart, my mind and I have been praying more directly.
First Reveal
When my my first husband John passed away, I was working for a wonderful company. They were sensitive, supportive, and understanding of the tragedy I had gone through. The week following Johns passing, we were supposed to be on a trip to Vail, Colorado with everyone. A trip that I had planned and John and I were very excited about. Needless to say, we did not get to go on that trip and all of our plans we had would never happen. I went back to work a week and a half later, because I had to financially. Though it was hard, it helped focus my mind on something that I knew, my job. I had so many moments I would be crying in my office. I felt broken and afraid of what my future was going to be. I was lost without my partner and best friend. I felt bad for my family, friends and co-workers who had to see me that way, even though I knew they understood. I eventually made the hard decision to leave and take time off to find me, the new me. I had sold our lot that we were going to build on and so I had a little money to take me through a few months time while I waitressed, until I figured things out. I closed a chapter that I needed to close at that time to start writing a new one. It was the right decision for me.
Recently, my old co-workers reached out to catch up.  As I was walking into the building emotions started flooding over me. I continued through the lobby and saw my old office. As I waited for some of them to greet me, I had a moment that made me stand still and stare into the office window. I could see my former self, sitting there so frail, beyond devastated and lost. I was the most lifeless version of myself at that point in time. So uncertain of what my life would be.  I immediately turned back to where I am now.  Feelings of thanks and pride washed over me. If anyone had told me I would get through it back then and have the life I have now, I truly would not have believed it. It was not without struggles, I struggle to this day. Looking at myself today, I was standing in that same spot but now I was a strong, confident woman. I was remarried, had two beautiful daughters and I had built an amazing career. I saw someone who didn’t take no for an answer and it showed in many areas of my life. I now carried a smile and an evident love for life. There will always be an underlying sadness behind my smile, but I am happy in my heart. Happiness is knowing John would be happy for me too.
Message: Remember to take care of yourself. Listen to what you need and not what others think you need.  Take time for your heart to heal. It will take years and years. Parts of my heart are healing still. It won’t heal completely and your hurt will always be there, but listen to yourself and what you need to move forward. Allow yourself the chance to at some point in time stop and look back with pride for how far you have come. 
Second Reveal
On July 3rd, we hosted a Fourth of July celebration at our home. I was running all week making sure the plans and preparation would come together, but also just telling myself, “Hey, these are your friends and family, just relax and enjoy that everyone will be getting together.” I was headed to the grocery store to pick up the buns and potato salad the morning of, you know the last minute fixings. I came to the ketchup isle with the pickles and then it happened! A man around my age late 30’s, maybe early 40’s says, “Is your name Tanya?”
I stop and take a look at him, not recognizing him and I say, “Yes” He then says his name, and continues, “I know you.” I clearly don’t know this man from recollection, so I am visibly feeling bad because I do usually remember people, so I say, “You do?”
The next line brought me to instant tears, “I knew your husband, John, I was friends with him and also know your dad.” I quickly apologize for my tears which maybe even were sobs….yes sobs. See, even ten years later, unprepared for running into someone, I did not have my guard up. I was not prepared. I immediately felt bad and said, “I am so sorry, I do this sometimes, I am OK.” His family was staring in shock and I quickly recognized that everyone was looking at me, thinking why is this woman crying in the ketchup and pickle isle. I pull myself together and hear him say, “Be blessed.” This encounter completely shook me. I always have outwardly been strong and wore my smile. I broke down. I had let myself break down and show my true feelings, the sadness of losing John, it will always be there. Most people that know me, will say that I am very open and almost transparent when it comes to how I am feeling. This is true, but I have held a lock on my heart, ever since John passed away. I locked up space, that I let no one see, because it is hard. I have been opening up this space, because I’m ready to. Sharing has been beyond amazing for me, I always wanted to do this, but I had to be ready. The timeline is mine and no one else’s.
After, I left the store I instantly wished I would have been able in that moment to have a conversation with this man, to let him know that even though I showed my tears, my sobs…I am good. I am good within my self, I am good within my soul and I am so proud of the life I have built and continue to build.  A life that my first husband would be proud of. I wish I had had the chance to brag on my second husband and how that despite trials we have faced in our marriage, we are in love and good. That I feel John picked him for me because they have so many similarities, yet are each very different people.  I wish I would have showed him a picture of my two amazing daughters. I didn’t though, because I allowed myself to break down and it was exactly what I needed to do, to see that I am good. I have continued to peel back the layers of my pain, revealing a trueness to myself and an outlook that is life focused. I hope that maybe I will perhaps have the chance again so I can share this part of my story.
Coming out of that experience, it helped and touched my heart.
Message: I remember when I used to say I was OK, because it was so much easier than explaining that I really was not. When I started crying, and I said, “I am OK,” I really meant it this time. I will always cry, sometimes sob over the loss of my first husband and best friend, but I have stopped hiding behind my pain. I am taking care of me, opening my heart, sharing who I am. I have learned that being vulnerable and real is OK. More people need to see that in this world, more people need to be shown it is ok to move past your grief and that life is a gift that none of us should waste or throw away. 
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Start Writing Your Story Again

Have you stopped writing your story? Grab that pen and paper and write down some goals, some aspirations. Put them up somewhere visible in your home. Believe you can reach them. Go after them, take the chance and begin again today. The hardest step is the first one, but each one after comes a little easier!

 

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{In}courage – Look Up

I loved this post from {In}courage and wanted to share it with you!!

Through my journey as a widow, there have been many times I have questioned God and I admit, I have turned away at times from him. His faithfulness and the mercy he has shown me continue to keep me believing. He is revealing to me the life he has planned and I am thankful for that.

“God’s love doesn’t hinge on what he does or doesn’t give us.”

 

 

Look Up

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Introduction To A Widows World

A Widow’s World Introduction and Thank You!

I wanted to provide an introduction to myself and why I decided to start A Widows World. I want to thank everyone for following, sharing and subscribing to my page. The outpouring of encouragement and messages of how this has touched others, has really touched me. I have heard many conversations of how my blog is helping support others through loss, divorce and tough circumstances. Please keep sharing and subscribe to my blog, just enter your email on my homepage. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. Have a blessed day!

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Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People

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I truly must admit, it is hard at times to lean into God’s word and trust in his plan, especially when you can not understand the heartache or the trials you are presented in life. I have had many people ask me “If God is there, if he is real, why do so many bad things happen to good people?” I struggle a lot with this question, I think many of us do.
 
For instance, I could say, “Why did he take John away from me and his family at such a young age? Why are babies born still? Why did that loving couple continue to experience miscarriage after miscarriage? Why do some of the most caring people who just want a child to love, experience infertility? Why do innocent children get abused? Why do so many girls and boys get sexually assaulted? Why do good couples that once had extreme love in their hearts for each other become filled with resentment with no resolution in site? Why do we watch some of our loved ones suffer and their bodies and health deteriorate? Why do we turn on the news and see mass murders and killings taking place, so much hate in the world?” The questions of why could go on and on and the answer to that question is, I don’t know. 
Its a hard question to answer and so I have looked into it so that I can help others understand. I found a writing on this that I would like to share for those interested. It is by a Christian author and apologist (a person who offers an argument in defense of something controversial), Lee Strobel. I have included the link and just one excerpt below of many I found to be helpful: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering/
 
“But if you doubt God’s promise, listen to what a wise man said to me: God took the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe — deicide (the death of God on the cross) and turned it into the very best thing that has happened in the history of universe, the opening up of heaven to all who follow Him. So if God can take the very worst circumstance imaginable and turn it into the very best situation possible, can he not take the negative circumstances of your life and create something good from them?
 
He can and He will. God can use our suffering to draw us to Himself, to mold and sharpen our character, to influence others for Him – He can draw something good from our pain in a myriad of ways…if we trust and follow Him.”
 
I personally am learning more and more to trust and pray asking him for specific things in my life that he can show to me. Things he is showing me, even as recent as this week.
 
I can look back over the last ten years, since losing my first husband John and see the moments where my footprints were not imprinted on the ground, where God was carrying me, protecting me and revealing to me the life he would restore for me, if I trusted in and leaned into him. I have not always been faithful to this and I will be very honest about that.  See, I am human. I follow my human ways and I am flawed. Me and my family have been hit with low blow after low blow. Some of the worst and unimaginable things, we have experienced. Things so painful you just ask why? Even in our why’s we trust and I can’t explain at times why we do this, but we do…because that is all we can do. Trust and get through it, putting it in Gods hands and supporting each other.
 
I see things that have happened to me along the way that helped me get to a better place, a place where my joy started to return and I started to love myself again. I stopped loving myself after John died. I was on a path that could have been destruction and was for a short time, because I didn’t care. I was so beat up and broken that nothing mattered. I felt nothing and therefore I cared for nothing and especially not for myself…because I was numb. Despite this, I see I was being lifted up, I was being protected and loved by my family and friends and mostly by God. He is the defender and protector of widows. There are many verses in the bible that affirm this, such as Psalm 68:5, “A Father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
 
I hope this helps even just one person today. We don’t have the answers to our why’s.  It is not for us to understand God’s plan or will for our lives. Loss is personal, your experience is different than mine. Mine is different than yours, because we are all different people and process things differently. We will never understand the why’s until we are taken home to live eternally.
 
I encourage you to try to not focus on the why’s. I encourage you to find your light, share your smile, talk about your journey. If we can shine our light, so that others know its OK to live and be happy even after devastation, it is OK to challenge yourself and be strong and courageous, maybe we will encourage someone through their own journey, maybe we will start believing in our smile again and the person we are and can be because we value living. Maybe we will learn to live fully because we allow ourselves the chance to.
It is most definitely an example to stand up and be more than just a survivor. Be a lover of life. I know I am very hard on myself at times, I need to stop that so that my light can shine, so that people can know my heart and with out a doubt understand what it is I stand for. I will re-read all of this when I need the reminder..because lets face it…we are human and we need to have continued reminders.
 
Here are some more verses that encourage me, that I hope will encourage you. Thank you to Odyssey Online for this message that popped up in my feed this morning, its funny how these little nudges come, that follow what has already been put on your heart to share.
 
http://theodysseyonline.com/longwood/8-bible-verses-for-the-overthinker/325723
 
1. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. – Philippians 4:6
 
2. Whenever you feel unloved, unimportant, or insecure, remember to whom you belong to. – Ephesians 2:19-22
 
3. Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? – Luke 12:24
 
4. Because He bends down I will pray as long as I have breath. – Psalm 116:2
 
5. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6
 
6. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34
 
7. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid: do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
 
8. She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future. – Proverbs 31:25
Thank you for taking time to read my blog. If it encourage you, please subscribe on my homepage. Follow me on Facebook, twitter, pinterest and instagram.
Sleep soundly! Tanya Smith
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International Widow’s Day June 23rd

Today, June 23rd is International Widow’s Day!

It is a day very close to my heart as I became a widow at the young age of 26. Becoming a widow at any age, is difficult, so I would like to take this time to recognize all of the widows worldwide and honor them this day, by acknowledging the struggles, the heartache and the journey of widowhood.

Widowhood is not easy and truly no matter how much time passes, the journey is ever present and the feeling of sadness, missing, longing, loving and reflecting on the time that was shared will remain. I have found remembering and letting yourself be in  and feel through those tough moments is not only good for the soul but also very healing. My journey as a widow will be ten years this September. There are days it feels like yesterday and days it feels like it was so very long ago, but the feelings remain. We did not choose to say goodbye. Maybe the loss was was sudden, maybe it was known and the time was looming, no matter the circumstance when we love someone and lose them to death we will never feel we had enough time.

I encourage widows out there to live, take chances and go after the things that matter. Don’t stay in your sorrow and grief, honor your loved one lost and yourself by living a life that would make them smile and be proud. We all deserve that.

Background on International Widows Day

International Widows Day takes place every year on June 23rd. It was initially launched by the Loomba Foundation whose focus is caring for widows around the world, in London in 2005.

International Widows Day (IWD) is a global day of focus for effective action to raise awareness and help widows and their children around the world. In 2015, there were an estimated 259 million widows and 585 million children in the world affected by widowhood, together with their family members the number is well over a billion people. For more information on the Loomba Foundation visit http://theloombafoundation.org/international-widows-day/

The Loomba Foundation put together a report in 2015 that details the research they performed to gather information on the number of widows per country. I have used Esri’s ArcGIS for Office solution to create an interactive map that allows you to visualize this data worldwide. Although, this is not 2016 data, this is the most current information I was able to gather. I credit the Loomba organization for their research, adopting this day, and the care and support they offer to recognize widows worldwide.

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