Please help me welcome Nancy Sue Henderson to the Writer's Journey Blog this week. I must say it was sheer accident that her post fell on Easter Sunday but I could not have planned a more inspirational life journey for today. Thank you Nancy! I believe you are right... God is at work.
GOD’S PURPOSE by Nancy Lou Henderson
God and I have always had a beautiful relationship. He understands me. Sometimes in frustration, I will holler a little while asking Him questions. So far, He has not sent a lightning bolt to strike me down, although a few have come close.
In January of 1997, after being married to my soulmate for twenty-nine years, I became a forever widow. What is a forever widow? In my case, forever widow means that my heart and soul belong to my deceased soulmate and he remains by my side in spirit.
After retiring in October of 2009 at the age of sixty, I spent the next five years working on my home and yard. Being the man and woman of the house is a tough job, but I am a hands-on person, so instead of hiring out the work, I do most of it myself.
The end of January 2015 came around and brought with it the realization that the mowing season was upon me. After spending the next week working in my yard, the last evening, I sat down in my swing on my patio, dirty and tired. Exhausted and close to tears, I decided to have a chat with God.
Of course, the conversation was one sided, but I knew God was listening. I asked him what my purpose was, why I was still here, and what I needed to do to get to Heaven to be with my husband, Frank. The one-sided conversation ended with me drying my tears, then telling myself to stop the self-pity.
That night I had a dream. In the dream, my husband, Frank, told me to look in the cedar chest. The dream woke me up, and I sat up in bed. There is a cedar chest in my spare bedroom. This cedar chest is full of Frank’s mementos and two leather satchels from the funeral home full of cards of condolences from when Frank died. I did not get out of bed and look in the chest, but instead I looked to the ceiling then suggested to Frank that he fly on in there and look himself.
While trying to fall back to sleep, suddenly, I sat up in the bed, remembering that I had another cedar chest in a floored shed in my backyard. This cedar chest was given to me by my parents when I was fourteen years old. After refinishing the chest, it sat at the end of my bed, and then when I married Frank, it sat at the end of our bed. Frank and I had put many things into the cedar chest, but that night, I had no recollection of what was inside of it. Although it was in the middle of the night, I got out of bed, made a pot of coffee, poured a cup, then went outside to my patio to wait for daylight.
No matter how hard I tried to remember what was in the cedar chest, I could not. At first light, I ran to the shed. I opened the shed door then dug my way to the cedar chest, which was in a corner of the shed. After opening the lid of the chest and quickly glancing inside, I saw items from our wedding, but what caught my attention was a large box sitting at the top in the right-hand side of the chest. I opened the box, discovered that it was full of letters, and then I realized they were letters from Frank written to me when he was in Vietnam. I was shocked.
In 1971, Frank did his last tour of duty in Phu Bai, Vietnam. At the time of his tour, we had been married two and a half years. Frank and I had always been inseparable, so being pulled apart by an ocean and war was very hard on us. We cried many tears and said many prayers for each other during that year.
The box that I found had sat on top of the cedar chest and after reading one of his letters, I would place the letter into the box. When Frank got his orders to come home, and I received his last letter, I put the lid on the box then put it into the cedar chest. Once Frank returned home, we never discussed Vietnam again. Since Frank was in the Army Security Agency, we had become accustomed to not discussing his military work, and he was bound by an oath to not discuss it for thirty years after he left the Army. Even though we had moved the cedar chest many times through the years, I soon discovered the cedar chest was last opened in 1971, the night I placed the box inside.
Carrying the box, I left the shed then went into my game room. I sat down at my game table then began to read the letters. While reading Frank’s letters, I realized it was like reading them for the first time. The fear and anxiety of losing him had erased all memory of the contents and beautiful words written to me in his letters. Through the eyes of a sixty-five-year-old widow and knowing he made it home, I realized that finding his letters was a gift from God and that God had a purpose for not only them but for me.
The next day, since Frank’s handwriting is hard to read, I decided to type all the letters then put them into a book for our future generations. While typing Frank’s letters, stories of our meeting and married life together came flowing into my mind like a movie in the theater. I could hear us talking, laughing, and doing things together, which led to me typing those stories for the book too.
Because Frank knew how to express himself so well, while going through many different emotional ups and downs, I decided to share some of his letters on social media as I typed them. Also, I shared some of the stories of our married life. The response from others was incredible. When I finished the original manuscript of the book, it filled two large three-ring binders and contained all of Frank’s unedited typed letters, which total about one hundred and fifty.
In April of 2018, after reposting a story shared on social media, I got a personal message from a friend offering to help me get the letters and stories into a published book or books. We decided to split the original manuscript into a series of four books because of its size. The four books are subtitled, The Love Story of Nancy & Frank. January of 2019, Love & Marriage: Book I of my memoir was published. In May of 2019, War & Commitment: Book II was published. Then in November 2019, Time & Distance: Book III was published. The fourth book, Faith & Eternity, should be published this year, 2020.
These books contain stories of true love and marriage with commitment, communication, sacrifice, and unselfishness. They also contain letters from a young man fighting his way out of fear, depression, anger, and other upsets, while writing about it to me in his letters. Also, as a man, Frank was not afraid to openly tell me how much he loved me never fearing it went against his manhood.
God has not revealed His purpose for these books to me, but I think that each person that reads them will receive a message from Him.
The reason I am an author is far more important than being as author. While reading the finished pdf of my first book, I stopped after reading a paragraph and emailed the editor who set up my book. I told him what a beautiful job he had done rewriting one of the paragraphs. His return email said, “Nancy, you wrote that paragraph, I did not change it.” In my reply I told him, “No God wrote that paragraph, because I do not know how to write like that.”
God has overseen this purpose for me from the beginning, and I am in awe of the things He has done and the things He has allowed me to know about the afterlife.
God is real, He answers our prayers, He has a purpose for every stage of our lives, and He will send others to help guide your way.
All of the Books, short stories, poems, and Widow's Blogs are free to read on my website and always have been. The Memoir is God's Work and He has a message for all who read. Since April 2018, 83,288 people have visited my website reading 223,877 chapters, blogs, etc. God is at work
Nancy was born and raised in Texas, where she met and married her soulmate, Frank. Since Frank was in the Army, they lived in Massachusetts then Okinawa before Frank went to Vietnam in 1971. After twenty-nine years of marriage, Nancy became a forever widow in 1997 and is still devoted to her soulmate. In 2015, she said a prayer to God for purpose. Her prayer was answered that night by a dream leading to a cedar chest that contained a box of letters. The box of letters through God’s inspiration led her to write a memoir.
You can find Nancy Lou Henderson at:
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3ao45H0