Ministry update too!
Ministry update too!
Finding Joy Again 
During the first year after Tom’s death I couldn’t imagine there would ever be moments of joy or times of laughter. Tom had a wonderful dry sense of humor that my kids inherited. I often felt guilty laughing and worried about what others might think about me…’that crazy widow with her inappropriate laughter’ or even worse ‘poor thing…’ (See more of this story below.)

A Widow's Way: Ministry Update
After two years of praying, pilot groups and research, we launched A Widow’s Way ministry one year ago this May. Thank you to all of the courageous women who walked this first year’s journey as we stumbled, climbed, moved too slow, then moved too fast, laughed, cried and found our way to a safe place of healing and hope.
Highlights of this past year, and moving forward:
*Monthly Zoom Conversations - with guest speakers (previous speakers below) bringing specific topics. We meet the second Tuesday of each month, 7:00pm CST.  Click HERE to receive emails with the call-in information (unless you are already receiving these).
  • Mary Anderson, counselor (self-care)
  • Amy Orlovich, author and counselor (handling the "what if" thoughts)
  • Dr. Hunter Kennedy, PhD on "How to minimize our negative thoughts."
  • Susan Hannifin-MacNab, social worker and author of  A to Z Healing Toolbox
  • Jamie Lisea, Women Who Love Young Life opportunities for involvement (See the website HERE, all are invited!)
*The formation of A Widow's Way Council:  Women helping to lead the way
*November 2021 Retreat: (See retreat pictures above) For encouragement, support, learning, and laughter (2022 Widow's Way Retreat coming, TBD; 2022 Widow's Way service project coming, TBD)
*Quarterly Newsletters
Finding Joy Again (continued)
But laughter slowly returned in baby steps, like physical therapy after a debilitating accident. I needed to be in a safe place to recover that part of my soul that was longing for just a small glimpse of the life I had before; one that included being able to laugh again.  
During my "joy rehabilitation stage" I tried to read scripture that mentioned joy and laughter. And I read books about finding joy again. My roadblocks were words like "but for these believers, trials and persecution are occasions for Joy" (James 1:2 “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials.”) and "suffering brings Joy as believers are united with Christ in his suffering" (1 Peter 4:13-14). This made no sense to me at the time. But then I read The Theology of Joy - Living with Faith, Joy and Gratitude by George Thomas and a light bulb came on.
I was confusing joy with happiness.  Thomas writes,  “Joy is something that lasts. Happiness is something that is temporary. Joy springs from within and is an internal experience. Happiness is caused by external circumstances or experiences. Joy brings with it a feeling of contentment and confidence which can take us through a storm in our life-journey. Happiness is not present when we are in the midst of a storm; it just vanishes. Happiness is a blurred emotion. It can mean different things to many people. Joy is a conscious commitment to be happy, to have a sense of gratitude and contentment despite life’s challenges."
One of my favorite authors is Katie Stifter. In her book The Funny Thing About Grief, she shares her struggle to survive the sudden, tragic death of her husband and raise her three children. She creates a guide for others who are lost amidst their own grief and heartache, ultimately imparting that humor can only help and there can be joy, laughter and happiness after loss. I find comfort in her dedication page from this book, "May I continue to tell his story, keep his memory forever on my lips, in my heart, until our souls are reunited. Until that day comes, I will continue to live! Oh, and laugh!"
Blessings to you as you find your way to laughter and joy in the days ahead.  What a beautiful grace from God when we do!
We walk this journey together,
Patti Stoetzner, A Widow's Way 
"Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today ... may he also be to you one who restores life."— Ruth 4:14 & 15
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