Joy is hard to come by when we are trapped in the grief of losing our husbands. In fact, joy is something we might feel like we may never know again after such a devastating loss. Many people define joy as an overflowing feeling of great happiness. Overwhelming grief is the polar opposite of that idea of joy.

Then we find ourselves surrounded by all the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Christmas… all in their own way tugging on our hearts and memories to remember what joy is and beckoning us to join in the excitement and feel those feelings that may now trigger anything but joy.

Joy is not something we can produce on our own. After living through a tragedy, it might feel like we may never again experience real joy. I want to reassure you… feeling joy again after this great loss is possible. It might take some time. You will need to begin to heal. You will need to decide you want to grow past the pain and engage once again with those around you.

Joy, real and true joy, comes when we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. The Biblical meaning of joy is choosing to respond to external circumstances with inner contentment and satisfaction, knowing God will use these experiences to accomplish His work in and through our lives. As we nurture our relationship with God through prayer, worship, and reading the Bible, we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and produce the fruit of joy. God takes the troubles and sorrows we face here and brings good through them.

I find it is essential to me to pray and read my Bible daily. I want to build my relationship with God and grow ever closer in my love for Him. I learn so much about His heart and His love for me as I read His Word. He speaks to me in personal ways that help me continue to navigate this difficult walk here.

Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times.
Romans 12: 12 TPT

It has been so hard since my husband went home to Heaven. I miss him and I miss all the ways he brought balance in my life by sharing his gifts and graces that filled the many holes where I lacked those gifts and graces. The strengths I had brought balance to him in the same way. Together we were stronger and could delight in things that would not have been the same without each other.

With him gone, somehow my shortcomings and weaknesses feel even more sharp and glaring. This combines with the grief I feel and tries to disrupt my efforts to find the joy in living. I was feeling like a two-legged stool that can only lay broken on the ground instead of hold me steadily supported and allow me to live a productive and satisfying life.

Back in August I shared in one of my posts about the importance of finding fellowship with others to help keep us moving forward in our healing from the grief we feel after the loss of our dear husbands. In that post I shared a prayer I pray every day in my alone time with God. Feel free to read that post here.

I’ve been reading that prayer out loud for months on a daily basis. I let God know I want Him to place God-fearing, Holy-Spirit filled women in my life to encourage me and speak life over me. I also want to be able to do the same for them, uplifting and supporting them in their needs and desires. God is answering my prayers in more ways than I can count.

Back in May I wrote a post about finding our way forward in our grief. (You can read it here.) In that post I shared how finding a local group of fellow widows was such a blessing because we had a shared kinship—even if that alliance was anchored in the loss of someone we dearly loved. It gave us a connection that allows us to build some deep bonds of friendship. These wonderful ladies have been helping me crawl out of my cocoon I was building around myself and engage in activities and outings I would not otherwise have done. I also talked about a special Bible Study group I joined where I am not only getting new insights from a respected and knowledgeable teacher, but I am making wonderful new friends who are in their own way loving me back to a stronger and more centered me.


I share all this as a framework for why I titled this The Joy of Giving. It has been at least seven or eight years since I felt free to immerse myself in all the spontaneity and chaos of creating a festive and exciting Christmas season with all the plans, activities, presents, and memories it brings. As I’ve shared many times, this was my husband and my favorite time of year. We so enjoyed making the season about bringing joy to those around us and to each other. The magic and nostalgia of all the Christmas traditions and spending time with family built memories to last a lifetime.

While my husband’s health was failing so rapidly, it was all I could do to keep up with his care. I didn’t have the time or strength to do things for myself or to invest in all the cooking and baking I enjoyed during the holidays. I needed to focus my energy on making the most of our time together. Then, when he went home to Heaven, everything in my life was so different I needed time to heal and regroup.

This year, thanks to my widow friends and the friends from the Bible study I find myself turning a corner in my healing process. I also found a church to become a part of a few months ago. They have a women’s Bible study group who welcomed me in. These new friends have been so warm-hearted and companionable. God is answering my daily prayer for God-centered women to share my life and heart with. He is using them to strengthen and heal all the brokenness life brought in this last season.

This last week I was invited to a pot luck with the widows group, a brunch with the new church Bible study group, and a breakfast with my original Bible study group. For the first time in so many years I was motivated to bake and cook as my way to say thank you to these beautiful souls who have been pouring life and love into me. I made a pot roast dinner for the widows. I made a turkey breast with dressing and cranberry sauce for the luncheon. I made a Christmas Star Bread, Baby Jesus pastries, and penguin cookies for the breakfast. It was wonderful to prepare my part of the feast and share with great friends my lost love for cooking.


I also toiled for days to make little gift boxes for everyone filled with homemade cookies and various chocolates. I found my “joy” when I was able to share these treats with the people who truly supported and loved me through some very difficult times.

Starting after the first gathering, I found myself smiling more and getting in the Christmas spirit. This energizing joy keeps growing with each celebration. I am reminded of something I can still do, and it feels so good to be able to present something special to someone. Giving gifts is my love language. When I can offer a tangible item that expresses my love it symbolizes how much I care and fills me with a measure of satisfaction and purpose wrapped in a form of happiness that can’t be easily explained… but is encompassed in joy.

There is such a joy that comes from giving to others. I used to do this for my family and friends. I’ve always found this deep satisfaction that bubbles out with elation when I see a smile on someone’s face when they receive something I poured my heart into preparing. It is my way of trying to show God’s love to one of His beloved children.

Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity!
2 Corinthians 9: 7 TPT

The whole story of Christmas is about bringing joy to the world. Jesus came to be our sacrifice so we can one day live in Heaven for all eternity. The angels proclaimed the peace and joy at His arrival to the shepherds. Celebrating new life is always a time of festive excitement and overflowing happiness. It ignites hope in our hearts and spreads light in the darkness.

Fully living is found when we embrace generosity, set our hope on God, enjoy what He richly provides, and share that provision with His family. This is the true life, the true foundation for the future, and the true foundation of everlasting joy.

Giving our all to Jesus—of our time, talents, and treasure—is evidence of our obedience and love for Him. Giving to God prioritizes our lives and is evidence of our love for Him. When we ask Him to open our eyes to the needs around us, He responds by giving us more joy, blessing, and evidence of God’s divine hand in our lives and the lives of those around us. It is not just cheerful but hilarious, filled with overflowing joy, to be one of the vessels God uses to provide for and meet a need in another person’s life, or simply to show appreciation and love to someone.

When you’re ready to take that step of faith and trust what God’s given you, step boldly, actively give, do it cheerfully and experience far more joy than you had when you kept it all to yourself. Look for ways to be creative in how you think about what God has given you and how your life can be poured out for the sake of others.

The heart of Christmas is found in God’s love for all of us. It is my prayer, wherever you are in your journey through grief, you will experience God’s love in a very special way this Christmas. Whether it is found in the joy of giving or being able to receive love from those He places around you to support you, may this be a beautifully memorable time that encourages and brings healing to you. May the new year bring an abundance of blessings and an acceleration in healing for every broken place.

God bless us, everyone!


Teri’s dance with grief actually began over five years before she watched her beloved husband of almost 37 years take his last breath and enter Heaven’s door on October 6, 2019. A terminal degenerative neurological disease steadily and increasingly attacked nearly every major system of his body and transformed him from a vibrant, brilliant, strong and caring man to a bedfast invalid at the end. She was devoted to caring for him and doing her best to make the most of every minute they had left, to love him and pray for a miracle.

She thought she knew what her future held, but she had no idea. Losing him was the first time she experienced a close and personal loss. He was the love of her life. The onslaught of the pandemic with its reign of fear-mongering, forced isolation and separation entering the scene and disrupting or destroying whatever sense of “normal” that remained, just added insult to injury.

Her faith in God is the sustaining force keeping her fighting spirit to find and share hope in a bright future. Her heart’s desire is to walk beside her fellow widows toward a path of promise and healing. She wants to offer encouragement and hope so others can find the strength to take that next breath or next step. She recently started her own blog,, to share with other widows not only the struggles and hardships of widowhood, but the triumphs. Her hope is found in leaning on the Lord Jesus to enjoy a God inspired future anchored in expectation He will bring us to a fulfilling and meaningful life.