When Miriam contacted me to write a Part 2 of my journey, I knew my answer was yes, however as I sit down to write it, my thoughts are where do I begin? So I decided to go back to my Part 1 on Widow Connection’s website and couldn’t believe in such a short time how much has happened in my life which reminded me that God is still not finished with me. His plan for me is a glorious one and only He sees the full picture in the puzzle I talked about in part 1. There have been many new “pieces” added to my life over the last few years and I am blessed. I was reminded as I read this in “Part 1” again that God is still forming me into something new after being broken and I am trusting Him with my life.
“Jeremiah 18:3-4 "So I went down to the potter's house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him." I was marred and broken when Eric passed away, but God took that same clay he formed me with before being broken and is creating something new as He sees best. That is encouraging to me.”
It has been 4 years now since the loss of my husband. Sadly, after my husband passed away, I experienced another significant loss in my life on June 10, 2011 when my sister, Kristi entered heaven after her battle with ovarian cancer just over a year after Eric exited to heaven. I had learned to mourn way too much in my opinion in my 39 years on this earth as I have experienced other losses besides these that just don’t make sense. I’d like to think that I am safe from any more loss in my life but also know that I cannot control these things. God doesn’t cause these things to happen to us and his heart grieves along with us when we experience loss. I do know that He is the great comforter and that I can share the comfort I have received from God with others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
The summer of 2011, I was able to take a trip to Colorado with the youth group I helped lead at my church. My son and my sister’s daughter were able to go as well which was amazing!
That same summer, I was asked to come to Chicago again to help film Miriam’s video series for widows which connected me to some other widows as I listened to their stories and got to know them as we spent the day together.
At the end of that summer, I was introduced to a Christian man named Todd Ritter by a friend who also has lost a husband to ALS.
Now I won’t lie, it was after I had tried internet dating for a very short period and had just informed her that after only two dates that “I had decided to become a nun”. Well, I suppose God had other plans for my life as after only 4 months of dating and getting to know Todd and his family, I became engaged to that wonderful man. Within 10 months of meeting him, I became Mrs. Lori Fox-Ritter. Together, we have 5 children, now ages 11-21 who I love and cherish as we experience our new lives together. Together, we are a house divided regarding college football (I’m a Michigan State Alumni and he is a diehard Michigan fan) but a house united when it comes to serving God. Joshua 24:15 “as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
There are blessings and challenges in this journey that we embrace together. I knew I wanted to find love again as I had a great marriage and I knew if God showed me clearly that there was someone else He had for me that I had a lot to offer someone. I was told by a counselor probably a year prior to pray for my future husband if that is what I desired for my life again one day. This relieved the anxiety of my future as I slowly let it go into God’s hands (not easy for a person who likes to be in control). After I met Todd, I prayed and sought discernment and God’s will as I realized He may be the man I had been praying for. An amazing thing was revealed to me after we were married and I had moved to Hamilton when a neighbor came over to say she was sorry she could not make it to our wedding. She told me she had been praying for Todd that someone would come into his life after what he had gone through. This was profound that someone was praying for “me” as I became that person for him!
Life is so busy and I love sharing it with Todd as we become more involved at our church as I am now on staff doing finances and Todd has become a Deacon. I still feel purpose and am constantly presented with opportunities to be God’s hands and feet. There are days when I wish I could clone myself or add more hours to the day but I am truly blessed. I am thankful that my kids have another Dad to help them with drivers training, tying their ties for prom, praying and tucking them in at night and showing them love and guidance. I am blessed to have an opportunity to be there for his kids when they need me or ask for anything. I am grateful to be doing things with Todd that I know I couldn’t do on my own and enjoying life as God continues to form the pieces together of my life to make a beautiful picture.
If you are unsure of your future and dating, some resources that have helped me are:
"From We to Me: Embracing Life Again after the Death or Divorce of a Spouse” by Married authors: Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert DeVries
“Love, sex and Happily Ever After: Preparing for a Marriage that Goes the Distance” by Craig Groeschel to honor God’s plan for marriage and purity
“Where do I Go From Here: Bold Living After Unwanted Change” by Miriam Neff
If you have become a blended family, Ron Deal has some amazing material on that at http://www.smartstepfamilies.com/view/about-ron-deal