{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

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.
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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What A Young Widow Wants You To Know

What a young widow wants you to know is a great article written by Kerry Phillips, Proud Mom, Lover of Words, PR Executive and Widow Warrior at Huffington Post. This is an article that I completely relate to! Many people place judgement, timelines and expectations for others unnecessarily and often times unknowingly. Loss is hard, its even harder to understand when a young life is taken. I like this article because it is a lot of what I felt and went through. I think people even to this day don’t understand, how would they unless they have gone through it themselves. So if you are a friend or family member of someone who has lost a spouse at any age, understand that the grief process is a very personal one, don’t place expectations or timelines, just be a support through that persons journey and be there. If they don’t want you to be there for them, just send them messages of your support and eventually when they are ready it will be remembered, cherished and likely something that they look back on and appreciate as one of the things that helped them through. The loss of a spouse no matter what age or if you move forward will never be forgotten. The pain will always be there and becomes a part of a widows journey. So understanding that time does not change this is important, time and rebuilding help with healing but there is no replacement and no amount of time that erases the scars of losing someone you truly loved.

Read the Article: What Young Widows Want Family & Friends to Know via @HuffPostBlog

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Trust Without Borders


The first time I heard this song, I was flying home from a conference in Jacksonville, Florida. This seems to be my thinking time, while I am in the air…unplugged…no distraction…just me, my heart and my thoughts.

I was feeling lost, broken inside…still. I thought about that first flight I took after John passed away, it was to Jacksonville, Florida. I had anxiety over this trip back there, I was remembering all of the feelings I felt then, but they were still there..though less fresh with the time and ever present healing…they hadn’t left me.

That trip in 2006, I wanted to hear the waves, somehow escape my reality. I was lost then, deeply broken and bruised…how frail and misguided I felt inside. Outwardly, I was pretending, being strong for everyone else. Inside I was hollow. How come, on this trip back 9 years later I felt the same feelings?

From that flight to this one 9 years later, brokenness…wasn’t it supposed to get better, get easier? Didn’t everyone tell me it would? How could they know that, really? People say things they think will help you, I get it…but I want the brutal truth and honesty. It doesn’t get easier! You shared a life, you were building a life, you said goodbye with no choice…its just not easy. You do eventually re-enter and re-build, finding new joy again. I have found new joy, new life, received new blessings. I opened myself to it and for me, my journey of healing was sharing, keeping Johns memory alive, remembering all that he was to me and others and being thankful he showed me how to really live and love. Honoring him and myself was never a question, I knew I needed to live and be happy. That is what he would have wanted for me.

I had started living, I had re-built, I had made my life good, I was determined..yet I was still sad. I carried scars, I had buried tears…buried them in vain because the pain was hard. I don’t share with people that I have nights I still cry in my sleep, nights I think about what my life would have been. This does not mean in any way I am not thankful for what I do have. It is just the life of a widow. I’m so blessed, my tears don’t mean I don’t love my second husband or that I don’t feel the blessing of being a mother to my amazing girls. I cry for what I had to say goodbye to, but I cry for being thankful for what I have because of it, the new course my life took does not diminish what I had. I feel lucky to have the love and hearts of two men, the love of two beautiful and kind children. I know I am blessed despite, my loss. I pray for you who may be going through this. I pray you receive blessing through loss.

I think for me, knowing how much time had gone by scared me. How fast life was moving, was hard to believe. I was so very thankful for the blessing of my new life, my new husband, my two daughters, the beautiful home we made together, the career I had worked so hard for, the picture of normal…the normal I was seeking, but I didn’t feel normal. What was normal? Was this my normal, getting further and further away from the time I last spoke to John and saw him…was normal knowing I continued loving him while also loving my new husband. How was this all normal?

I needed the ocean then and I needed it now, the waves crashed over me then and they were crashing over me still. Scars, they were left on my skin. I was stronger, but I felt weak.

This song came on in flight and I felt, it was a gift. It is a message I continue to hear through the waves of my journey. I have so much more ahead of me to do in this life. My feet may fail, but my faith will stand!

I know its ok to carry and share my scars, they are ME. My scars are personal and I will carry them my entire life, I want to! I carry and share these scars so others know, that I LIVE and choose to LIVE. I want people to know.

I learn something new every year and I am PROUD! Im proud of John and who he was. I’m proud of the love we shared. I’m proud of the scars I bear, I’m proud I’m not afraid to speak about him, who he was to me and about my journey. I’m proud of my second husband, Dave and how he loves me never once worried about my scars, my healing, the life and love I shared before him that ended without my choice. How he continues to love me through it. He may not understand, how could he. He does however, love my posts and recognize the days that are hard…saying “todays Johns birthday, I saw your post, how are you?” I’m proud that through our journey and the trials we have faced, we have kept working on us, we know we aren’t perfect, but we have learned what we have is worth fighting for, working on, we don’t pretend we have perfect, we are open that we have lost site of our marriage at times and who we are to each other. This to me is real life, real marriage. Picture perfect, is not always reality. Love takes work, takes time. I’m thankful for your love Dave and the life we are living together. No one needs to understand that or us, because this is our life.

So, thank you for following me…for listening to my heart. I hope this encourages you in your journey knowing there are many waves and many blessings ahead. Open your heart to really living without borders.

Now, you must do me a favor and turn this song up…LOUD…feel the words and how they speak to you! MY VERY FAVORITE PART IS IN CAPS, below.




You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown. My feet may fail..and there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep…my faith will stand. And I will call upon your name…and keep my eyes above the waves…when oceans rise…my soul will rest in your embrace…for I am yours and you are mine.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters. Your sovereign hand will be my guide. My feet may fail when fear surrounds me, you’ve never failed…and you won’t start now. So, I will call upon your name…and keep my eyes above the waves. When oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace….for I am yours and you are mine.

(Repeat and pray this fervently, believe it, feel it and know that whatever you are going through in life, let your trust be without borders, let him be your guide.)


My feet may fail, but I will at least know I followed my heart by really living and choosing to live, how could I fail!

~Tanya Smith

A Widows World


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Loss Cripples You

IMG_3669Loss cripples you, it settles a fog over you.  It completely changes you. I remember looking in the mirror after I lost John and my reflection was a stranger. I couldn’t recognize who I was, let alone comprehend who I was going to be without him.  I tried looking ahead, but all I knew, was what was behind me. The life we had. The life we were building and the plans and dreams we shared for our new adventure in marriage and creating our forever.

Almost ten years later, I look at my reflection and I see me, well the new version of me. I’m forever changed, but I’m proud of my scars and my journey. I see that once I started focusing on each day and living to honor John and myself and not take a moment for granted, I started to really live. I honestly have reminders all of the time, after all we are human. We are not perfect and despite loss we can and still do lose site of what’s important.  I learned it was ok to dream again, feel again, love again, be happy again.

Focus on what’s in front of you rather than looking too far ahead. When I did this and lived day by day, taking pressures off of myself I started to be less afraid of what was ahead. I started focusing on the day and making it a good one and that overflowed into the next day…I began to find my joy again. New joy!

It was not easy, I stumbled a lot, I feel like I still do, I felt lost a lot and at times I still do, I was afraid and at times, I still am. I was afraid, because I lived through just how fragile life is and so with that, I felt fear for letting myself love again. I was young, it was likely that I would find love again, if I opened my heart again and once I got to a place I was capable of loving another person.

Fear also cripples us, it holds us back, it makes us question ourselves constantly. This is the fear we hear within ourselves, but also the fear that others project onto us.

The fear inside of me was thinking, “what if this happens to me again”, because lets face it, it could! What would the point be in getting close to someone again? The heartache that could come.

The fear projected onto me, was society and peoples beliefs for how I should handle my grief! How I should stay in it for others. People become very uncomfortable with strength, when you don’t fall into some social norm. There is no manual here people. Grief is personal and affects us in different ways.

I remember a friend getting me out of the house weeks after John had passed. I didn’t want to leave my place of mourning and safety, but they were kind enough to know, I needed to put my mind on something else even if just for a minute. Escape my reality, even though it will never escape me. We attended a Halloween party and a woman my age at the time cornered me knowing what I had just been through. I didn’t know her, but she acted as if she knew me. She said to me words I remember plain as day. She said “Don’t be afraid to stay at home”. My face I could feel in an instant turn white, what? What should I say? So I mekley said “ok”, while inside I wanted to claw at her. I wanted to say what do you mean by this, explain! Why did she feel the need? Was I asking her for her opinion? No! Had she just lost the person she loved the most in her life, and was now suddenly some expert in grief? No! I was angered and wanted to leave. I was visibly upset and hurt by her words.

You see, though what I have learned through this is that people they don’t know what to say, they don’t understand, they can comprehend. They feel sorry for you. You see it in their eyes and you feel it in their words. Words that honestly can hurt you more than help you. Words that sometimes make you feel they are minimizing your loss. When this happens to you, there is no bright side…there is nothing that comforts you and you don’t want to hear how you will be ok someday…because you are not ok. This is not ok.

I see that now though she just didn’t likely know what to say.  Its simply that people have no idea how they would handle a loss like this, they can’t comprehend it and when it is a young life I think it’s even harder for them to grasp. Any loss is hard though regardless of age. Time! Time shared will never be enough, even when someone has lived a full life, the memories there that were made and the person you mourn who impacted you and had some part in the person you are…it’s never enough.

I heard what people were saying when I decided to start getting out. I had to put my shield of armour on. I had to toughen myself in ways I never thought because I was a caring, compassionate and sensitive person. I had decided, I was not going to stay in my house for others, stay in a place where walls and flooding memories were closing in on me. I woke up every day and that was 100% for me at that time, just getting up. There are moments where I feel I lost time, I can’t remember. This is normal. This is real. A piece of my heart, of who I was and am is gone, but does live on through me. Through my sharing and my heart.

There was a particular day about a year and a half after losing John that I felt like I woke up.

During the time when John passed away, we were living with my parents. We were getting ready to build our home and break ground we had hoped that weekend. After losing him, I went back to work a week later because financially I had to. We were young, we hadn’t planned for this. It helped to put my mind on work, I had so many day I would sit in my office and cry, sob! People were kind though and they gave me my space and they showed their concern and care. Six months later, I was done. I needed a break. I needed to feel, or feel nothing. I just couldn’t pretend. I had to immerse myself in my loss. I had sold the lot that we owned, so I had some money to get me through for a short time until I decided what was next. I moved into a little house, which I quickly became very fond of. My first place living on my own. It was very lonely. It was also very good for me. Skipping forward though, I went back to work about four months later finding a new job. It was somehow easier for me to start new rather than have people look at me with pity, though they may not have been doing that I felt it. I needed to start new or at least as new as I could.

So getting back to the day, I feel I woke up. I was upstairs in the finished attic space of my house on a Friday working from home. I went to head down stairs to get some water. I lost my footing and I fell from the top of the stairs all the way to the bottom. It took my breath away, I was balling and the pain was stabbing. Then the next instant shook me. I instantly felt like God was saying “stop”, “wake up”, John was also saying “please stop being so sad”, “live”!

It was such a powerful moment for me. I saw clearer and I knew it was time for my re-entry into the life I could have, if I would let myself.

I woke up and I started to rebuild. I used to put so much emphasis on what others felt I needed for me. I quickly grew a back bone. I quickly stood up and put a wall around me, protecting myself from others judgments or thoughts for how they now wanted me to live. I was not staying in this place of loneliness and self pity another minute.

I have met many widows along the way, I truly feel like god has brought them into my life. They have enriched my life. It does help knowing that I am not alone, even when I thought I was. I see the grace of god in my story, I believe he carried me through even when I did not know he was there. Even when I turned away from him. I’m thankful, I did not turn away for long, but even when I did, I felt his protection. His love.

My heart is happy today, though I have so much more healing and life lessons to learn! I have an open heart and am not afraid of living.

I’m truly so very thankful Johns gift to me was teaching me that life and love are worth EVERYTHING. Because of this, I opened my heart when I was ready, on my timeframe and no one else’s and I have a wonderful second husband Dave and two unbelievably loving and sweet daughters that show me each day how truly blessed and loved I am.

Healing is on-going! Learning is constant. Embrace your journey and honor your loves lost by LIVING!

~Tanya Smith

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Happy Birthday John!


You would have been 37 today. Know you are being celebrated today!! Today is one of those dates every year that I always shed a tear and emotions wash over me. I think of all the birthdays we were lucky to have shared, though never enough, we were lucky to have those days.

Tonight I celebrate my daughter Addison’s graduation from pre kindergarten. I find it warming that on days that make me sad, God has also brought new meaning of reason to celebrate. It helps my heart and makes me feel both him and you are watching over me.

Love you forever and always! Thank you for being a big part of who I am and a huge reason why I have moved forward rebuilding, finding new love, new life and new purpose.

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IMG_3633This is a long one! ???????

This weekend my girls were playing in the sandbox while I gardened. Addison had her sparkle shoes on and I said don’t wear those into the sand box babe. As soon as I said it, I caught myself thinking…why not? The logical mom in me was thinking, I don’t want them to get ruined. The widow in me however was saying they are just a thing…let her take her sparkle everywhere with her.

This may sound silly, but it did cause me to pause, think and reflect. So here is the message I have to share…get ready for this deep thinking. ????

I feel like everything has me thinking lately about life, about dreams, hopes…about what’s next!

The sandbox of life is so full of unknown, of possibility!

Our lives will be touched by so many people through the course of it. We will have gone through so many things our heart could not have imagined or prepared for, but doesn’t that also make life magnificent and unique? If we knew what was ahead, it would cause us so much angst before we even let ourselves begin. We would fixate and possibly try to change our course.

It’s how we handle those unknown moments in life that define us and help us write our story!

For a time, I stopped writing mine.

I’m thankful I didn’t stay in that place too long, I’m blessed I didn’t let it steal my spirit or darken my heart. The loss of my first spouse and best friend forever changed me, in so many ways.

I was an innocent. I no longer am. I was naive to the way of the world. I no longer am. I was disillusioned to the fairytales that we grow up believing. I no longer am.

So much of what we see growing up in movies and media is glamorous, beautiful, perfect with some version of a happy ending. Most lives are just not this way, life is dirty, messy and full of twists and turns. I have as a mom decided to let my daughters believe in fairytales to a certain point, but the real live version of them.

Real is a life we build and decide to make for ourselves, real is how messy and hard life can be, real is being our true self and not being afraid for others to see us and our hearts as we are. real is not fitting into a mold or a perception that people have for us. Real is being authentic and not being afraid of that. Real is being kind and humble, but also having a backbone to stand up to wrong and things we don’t believe in. Real is following God and leaning into him and his word, which i admit i don’t always do, but i try to. Real is understanding that God is not of man nor evil and he does not make the bad in our lives happen, he does carry us through if we follow and lean into him. Real is understanding that not every cloud has a silver lining, real is knowing that if a door closes, you get back up and open the next one taking advantage of your time here and following your heart. Real is understanding that grief has no time limit, real is not judging others because we don’t know their circumstances!! Real is celebrating moments and opening our hearts to love and possibility, but knowing that love takes work, time and effort. Real is showing our sparkle ? through the hail storms in our lives, sharing our smiles allowing people to see that just because something bad has happened it doesn’t mean we have to live there and stay there for others!

Ten years after losing John, I feel called to share my story, share the sparkle ? I have regained and found hoping to spread it as others go through their journey.

So throw a little sparkle ? someone’s way today. I always believe being kind and real to others or taking pause to see how someone else is, helps people in turn do the same.

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