Sunday, February 03, 2013

After the Introduction to The Unexpected Journey

Many of you have offered "If there's anything I can do..."  Well, you can give me your advice.

It's another beautiful sunrise from my deck. But just as the sun rises with the shadow of a Chinook cloud above the mountains, so my view of the rising future also comes shrouded in shadows. Just as the sunrise changes every morning, the circumstances of my life also change. There are times, especially at night, when it feels really dark and even the stars can be obscured by cloud, but I gladly remember that somewhere, the sun is always shining, it's just my perspective that changes. It helps when others can shine a flashlight or light a candle in the dark to help me find my way.

When Brent died, my future was just changed in a way I never anticipated and I entered a period of very little light. Before Dec. 7, my primary role was as a partner and support to my husband in his career as the primary provider. Now, the role of "supportive wife" is gone.

I'm it.

Head of the household. Decisions have to be made. I don't have to consider another person's opinion, but then again, I also don't have another person to consult or to share the blame if it all goes awry. Ha. So how do I look to the future and choose to live intentionally in a contributing way? How do I find my new identity? How do I anticipate problems and plan to avoid pitfalls? How do I set myself up for as much success as possible? Should I even be thinking "success" vs. "process"? What can I really change or control?

Seth Godin talks about envisioning a future without your sacred cows. Go read this blog post, then come back here and give me your ideas.

Based on Seth's blog post, what are my sacred cows? How do I envision a future with or without them? How do I even envision a future when all I can see in the immediate near term is spending every hour catching up on paperwork and trying to clean up the details of my past?

The strongest advice I've been given by those who have been in my place is 1) don't do anything in a hurry or on impulse and 2) don't make any significant changes for at least a year. This seems like good advice, so I can stay in my current job, be a mom who parents from a distance, hang out with some pretty nice people in my church and neighborhood and not change anything for a while.

Maybe that’s an okay idea, but somehow I think that’s a pretty small life. My financial situation is adequate but requires prudence. No lavish lifestyle for me. I have an investment advisor, a tax accountant, a realtor and a lawyer if needed. They provide practical advice, support and guidance in financial and legal matters. My pastor, life coach and psychologist help with the spiritual and emotional side. I guess I'm getting down to the nitty gritty of career and identity, two very big issues. Who am I if I am not a wife? I am still a mother, but my son is a young adult working his way toward becoming self-supporting, so my involvement in his life is changing. Do I plan for early retirement? If so, what do I retire to? If I don't retire early, am I in the best career for the next decade or so? Am I living in the best place? Do I move closer to my son?

I don’t really hear a Clear Calling to anything different yet, no incredible book offers or job offers or speaking engagements, but I would like to envision possible scenarios for my future in the manner Seth Godin suggests. But does imagination help unless it involves decisions I actually have some control over? I hopefully won't approach my future like the widow I heard about who is spent all her time desperately searching online dating sites for her next husband. Not that there's anything wrong with online dating per se, just that you can't make a partner magically appear. It takes two to tango and "desperate" isn't really my style.

I’m having a hard time concentrating on my daily Bible reading. I talk to God all the time, and I hear great truth through many avenues, so for now, I think I am going to just plod along where I am and ask that your prayers for me in the future include the petition that I would clearly sense God’s voice and have my eyes open to whatever contribution I can make right in front of me. And if God wants to change focus and give me some Really Clear Direction, you can let him know I think that would be a mighty fine idea.

What do YOU think might show up as a sacred cow as I consider possible scenarios for my future? Do you have real life examples of helpful things widows/widowers have done and things I Really Should Avoid? If so, you can email me at or better yet, post them here in the comments.

Thanks for your love, prayer and support,


  1. Well. I have no clue, but I love you. Take notes for the book you'll write about this someday :)


  2. I love you too Joyce! ...and yes, maybe you should write a book about this all one day :-) ...I'd read it!

    I'm sure being thrust into the position of "I'm it" must feel daunting...I can not even imagine what you must be feeling. It is a good thing that only God knows and sees the 'big picture' of our lives..and the pages of it are only revealed to us one page at a time! ...I can get overwhelmed with 1 page sometimes...never mind the whole book!! haha
    Bite size pieces...bite size pieces!! :-) I always need to remind myself to trust God minute by minute..hour by by day! Getting anywhere requires only 1 step at a time :-)
    Don't rush my Friend...Jesus is walking with you step by step, and whatever & wherever your destination is...if you continue to trust HIM, He'll get you there. I've never been one to believe that there's only 1 road to getting to that destination...God blesses GOOD decisions! There's always more than one road to anywhere (grant it...some usually better than others)

    I am continuing to pray regularly for you...that God will give you clarity as you go forward and adjust to your new reality...and as you make decisions (big and small).

    It sound like you have some really great people in your life there in Calgary to help you with their advice, support and guidance in all sorts of matters, and that's hugely important.
    As far as what you consider to be a pretty small life...your job, parenting from a distance, hanging out with all those nice people there...all sound like it could be pretty great if that's where God still wants you right now! :-)
    And I have not walked in your shoes, but it sounds like you're getting great advice from those who have: not making hasty decisions for awhile.. especially life changing ones. Give yourself time to settle into your new reality...your new 'normal' catch up on that breathe!

    A thought that has come to me when I feel inadequate, or weak, or feel I don't 'measure up':
    I envision myself strapped to Jesus...and Jesus is the yardstick (sorry...old school imperial measurement! haha) standing on end vertically, pointed towards God! As long as I stay close to...'strapped to' Jesus I know that I'm going the right direction, that with Jesus, I measure up! The BONUS is...when I feel weak and inadequate...Jesus acts like my splint..keeping me upright and strong! We are stronger than we realize with Jesus at our side!

    Hang in there my Friend...we love you and continue to pray! (for you and for A)

    D Wells

  3. I would say to truly give yourself some time...time to grieve...time to get over the shock...time to readjust...time to just do the nitty gritty things of life...If you are not under pressure to move or whatever....just let others and God minister to you. Relax against His great chest!!! I have been amazed how God has ministered to me in the years since Carl went home. I have had some tough things to get through, but He has done wonderful things for me through it all! I have asked Him different times about my life...and He just says two words to me....."Trust Me".....So that is my marching order from get on with my life and completely trust God....who is leading me and guiding me. Actually, Joyce, you can't have it any better than that!!!! I have a son who is battling drug addiction caused by perscription drugs precipitated by a rig accident....not fun...but through it all, God is faithful. Blessings Sylvia Willcox

  4. "The Man therefore read it, and looking upon Evangelist very carefully, said, Whither must I fly? Then said Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, Do you see yonder Wicket-gate? The Man said, No. Then said the other, Do you see yonder shining Light? He said, I think I do. Then said Evangelist, Keep that Light in your eye, and go up directly thereto: so shalt thou see the Gate; at which, when thou knockest, it shall be told thee what thou shalt do." from Pilgrim's Progress

    I journey as you, full of doubt and hope. Love you, Sis.

  5. Joyce, I love when you share your heart. It helps me focus my prayers for you in a much more specific direction. I have been praying for you daily and will pray that, as you said, God would give you really CLEAR direction. Although my story is under different circumstances, I know that when I walked through the heavy fog of grief and loss, I could hardly see my way. When people called my name or asked me to do something, I responded purely out of intellect and habit, not out of spontinaety or desire. When people said it would get "better", no it doesn't, I just learned how to deal with it better as the new "normal" set in. I like the people's advice who said give yourself time. Time seems to be what we need to re-focus and set a new path for our lives and those around us (especially your son).

    I have been walking this path of grief with you and here is what I "see" (ok, envision might be a better word!!) in your future!~ ;) (major wink here:)

    GOD WANTS TO USE YOUR STORY FOR HIS GLORY. As He is pulling your through this, (and I say "pulling" as this is something you would not have chosen or, now that you are here, can go through on your own, but He is there) He is preparing you to help thousands of others who may suffer in silence in dealing with many issues - on of them being mental illness. You are an amazing writer and an eloquant speaker and I am looking forward to hearing you speak at a conference as you carry your story to hundreds, perhaps thousands of women.

    I will definately pray you will sense God's voice and have your eyes open to whatever contributions you can make right now in front of you and He would give you really CLEAR direction as you make this hard, but fortunately with His help, not impossible journey.

    Love you my friend

    P. Forbes

  6. My dear sister,

    September 15, 2012 you wrote the following, not knowing at all what was ahead:

    "My loving Creator has a greater blueprint for benefits to bestow on my life. What may seem tragic could actually be the beginning of one of the biggest developments in my life."

    Trust our Father -- He loves you even more than I do!

    Bonnie Gingerich

  7. The thing is, as I see it, you are open to, and welcoming guidance, thoughts, observations, which is not the habit of people herding sacred cows. Your strength shows by your vulnerability. I suppose the only danger anyone faces who has gone through such a life-modulating event, is that the event itself becomes the defining point of life. Which of course blocks growth and eventually dishonours the "event". This is my meager notion, for what it's worth. Grace and peace, s