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Reclaiming Joy: A Primer for Widows

Nothing prepared Ella for widowhood. That first month she lived in a fog, completely overwhelmed. She had anxiety attacks when her heart raced and she could not swallow. Worry kept her from sleeping. She misplaced everything she set down. Some days she crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over her head. Searching for an eye of calm in the center of the storm that swirled around her, she turned to prayer and Scripture. Again and again, she read the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians—a letter full of love, encouragement and even joy. It became her primer for widowhood. In her journey to reclaim joy, she looked for role models and widows. She recalled family stories. She listened to the stories of other widows and sought the advice of professionals in the field.

Reclaiming Joy consists of a series of vignettes—verbal snapshots—that illustrate how widows can move from grief and despair to hope, contentment and joy. Practical advice from Paul’s letter is the thread that stitches the vignettes together from beginning to end. The book can be read through in a day or two, or it can be used as a daily meditation guide. This is not a simplistic four-step, 28-day program to grief recovery. Each widow’s grief is unique, and most widows agree that they get too much advice from well-meaning friends and family. Ella’s goal is to help other widows see that they are not alone. Life is not over. They will emerge from the overwhelming cloud of grief. They can reclaim joy.


Co-editor, Fiesta: Favorite Recipes of South Texas. The Junior League of Corpus Christi, 1973. 6 printings, more than 50,000 copies. Ella was responsible for editorial content, graphic design and publishing arrangements for this nationally recognized cookbook. Fiesta still earns a 5-star rating at, where it is occasionally available for purchase.

Contributor, Through the Bible in a Year: Devotionals by Texas Baptists. Dallas: BaptistWay Press, 2011. 3 printings, 4,000 copies.