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Embrace new life

Christine Holmes speaks of how she moved on in her life to embrace change after her husband died of cancer

When her husband died of cancer in 2007, Christine Holmes felt abandoned and struggled to cope, but her faith in God enabled her to be open to new opportunities

I felt robbed of life and marriage as I muddled my way through that first year of widowhood. Every aspect of my life had changed: my status, my finances, the way I saw myself and the way other people saw me. I realised how much of my identity lay in being a wife and when that rug was pulled out from under me I lost my footing for a time.

I had health issues and in the 18 months following my husband’s death I had two spinal operations, both of which failed, and I felt lost on my own without him. I missed his love and support as I struggled with pain and fibromyalgia. I turned to God for comfort and I found it in his presence and in his Word.

Isaiah 54:5 promises: “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is his name, the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.” I realised I had to fix my focus on him and believe him when he said he would be a husband to me. Previously I had taken comfort in the Word of God, but now it was life to my soul. As I spent more time with God, learning to trust him for each day, I began to change. I realised there were choices to make that would establish the way forward for me.

I read Deuteronomy 30:19-20 “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life …” And I chose to accept his invitation, living every day in his plan for my life.

This change of heart, mind and attitude was just the beginning in my adventure with Jesus. I decided to embrace change rather than shy away from it and soon began plans to move house. I lived in the city of Belfast, but I had family living in the country and I saw this move as the fresh start I needed in my life. I knew it would be quite an upheaval because I would need both a new home and a new church to go to.

I prayed about the move and went to view a house I had seen on the internet. I loved it and knew this was the place I wanted to live. I found a family church – Emmanuel Church in Lurgan – and I felt that this would be the place where I would put down roots and grow.

Preparing to move was overwhelming. The amount of stuff we had acquired over 20 years was amazing. I realised I had to be ruthless in clearing out, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional roller coaster that would entail. Sorting through the spare room I found boxes of photographs and each picture held a memory of happier times. In the cupboard under the stairs was my husband’s fishing rod, his coat and his fisherman’s hat. I smiled as I pictured him in all his gear when he was fishing. At the back of the house was his workshop and I found tools that had rusted on the workbench where he had left them.

I cried as I sorted through everything and packed box after box, feeling lost in a maze of memories and emotions. Then there were the goodbyes at church, where I had been a member for a number of years. At times I felt vulnerable and afraid, yet I never doubted my decision. It was time to go and there was a new life ahead for me.

Moving day was busy and a family affair. My sons had arranged a removal van for all my furniture and boxes, and my daughter and grandchildren were at the new house waiting for us to arrive.
By late afternoon, the house was empty and we were ready to go. I went back inside for a last check and the silence echoed in the hall. I looked into each room for one last time, closing each door on all the memories that rushed through my mind. This home had been my last connection with my husband and I shed more tears as I walked down the hall and closed the front door for the last time.

Driving up the motorway towards Lurgan, it was raining and then suddenly the sun came out and I felt hope rise in my spirit. I would cherish forever the memories of my marriage and my husband would always have a place in my heart, but it was time to move on to new beginnings.

I am now settled in my new home and established in my new church. I have formed new friendships and I’m closer to family and grandchildren. I’m so thankful for the blessings in my life and it was worth the upheaval to be where I am now. At times it has been lonely when I’ve been out somewhere and come home to an empty house, but I prayed about this and God answered me.

A few months ago, I got Molly, a two-year-old West Highland terrier. I rehomed her and she has settled in just fine. She is great company, loyal, affectionate and great fun to be around. We enjoy our walks and at night we settle in the recliner chair to watch TV. I am so grateful to have her and she is such a blessing.

God has been good to me and I’m secure in his love and provision. His Word tells me:
 “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain in the house of Israel, you who I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Isaiah 46:3-4).

I live my life as a woman of faith, as I continue to grow in his grace and his love. I embrace all he has for me and I know that no matter what changes affect my life, Jesus remains the same. He is faithful and he is my rock, my God in whom I trust.

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