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Reflections of Christmas 2020

Posted on December 14, 2020 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (37)

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Christmas is right around the corner. If you’ve lost a loved one, this time of year is not always easy. If I'm honest, I’ve shed quite a few tears in the last few weeks myself.


I’m missing my Mama and my husband and our traditions. Just their presence. I miss having a home to go to for the holidays and I miss their love. I remember growing up during the holidays my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. would come from all over to my Grandma’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. We would have such an amazing time together. Those memories make me smile.


After I got married Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and other holidays were celebrated big time. We would decorate, ride around to see Christmas lights, play Christmas trivia and everything else that you do around Christmas time. My late husband and I got so much joy watching our sons open their gifts, play and laugh! Since his passing it just hasn’t been the same.


I will tell you this, I am determined to have a great time during this Christmas Season. If you know me then you know that November through January is my favorite time of the year. Even in the midst of a pandemic that Christmas feeling is still here, coupled with some sadness. I’ve been watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music since October (LOL), with my sons in the background telling me Mama, it’s too early for that. LOL


Whatever you need to do to get through this season- do it. If that means doing nothing- it’s okay. If it means making new traditions- like my sons and I are doing, that’s perfectly fine as well.


I want to stress something though. Whatever you do keep love in the forefront. There is too much going on in the world for us to walk around shrouded in hate. Due to the pandemic there has been so much death, job loss that people don’t know how they are going to pay their bills, how they are going to feed their children or pay for childcare or even Christmas gifts. We’re unable to gather with family like we usually would do. People are walking around with broken hearts and empty bellies. Let’s not add to the issues that are already going on with hate, separation and ugliness. Let go of those grudges, call that family member you had a falling out with and let it go. Let’s love on each other.


Christmas in itself is a season of love- the ultimate love. God sent his Son Jesus to save us from our sins! Now that’s love!


Matthew 1:21- And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.


I pray that you have a Merry Christmas and remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!


In His Love,




Christmas Joy - with a side of Grief

Posted on December 21, 2019 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

If you know me then you know the Holidays are my favorite time of the year. November- January. So- this Holiday Season I thought I had made it to a place where “grief” wouldn’t bother me. Boy was I wrong. In the midst of the joy of the Season, the celebration of Jesus’ birth, looking forward to spending time with my oldest who was born on Christmas Eve, etc., grief, loneliness, the longing for family gatherings, tears, and sadness has crept in at times. In the midst of all the Holiday parties, gift exchanges, church services- grief still finds a way to kick in.

I began to tell myself what I’ve been telling other Widows- it’s okay to have your moment(s)..... even though it’s been 4 years- it’s okay to have your moment(s). Even though I thought I was past feeling like this- it’s okay to have your moment(s). So I’m telling you just like I’ve been telling myself- it’s okay to have your moment(s). It's okay that in the midst of all the joy of the Season, the laughter, the gifts, that a little sadness is there too. It’s also okay to celebrate Christmas in whatever way you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel like doind anything- IT's OKAY.

My sons and I plan on going out to eat on Christmas Day. If we don’t feel like it when the day comes- guess what? We won’t go. Do what makes you and your family feel good. This Christmas feels very different to me and I'm sure to some of you as well- Let's just roll with it.....

Merry Christmas,


Mother's Day 2019

Posted on May 14, 2019 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Ahh Mother’s Day. It really is a beautiful day right? A day set aside to honor Motherhood and to acknowledge the hard work that we mothers do on a daily basis.

So, what do we do if Mother’s Day is hard to go through? What about the person like me who has lost a mother? What about the mother who has lost a child? What about the mother who has been trying to conceive to no avail? What about those with strained mother relationships? Truthfully Mother’s Day along with other Holidays can be difficult when your life has been with challenged in some way.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling kind of heavy. I embraced the moment (which is important) and then I began to talk to God about how I was feeling. I asked Him to help me make it through the day. I began to think about the amazing Mother I had. How she raised us, myself, my brother and sister, by herself after her divorce. I began to think about her strength- in the midst of heartache, family turning their backs on her, and so on. I remembered how she had to be at work at 5:30 in the morning and how I as the oldest child had to get my brother and sister up and ready for school. How she kept going- until the day she left this earth. I thought if I could be half of the woman she was I’d be doing alright.

I also thought about my late husband. He made Mother’s Day so special for me, always. He would have elaborate celebrations and he made sure my sons took care of me the entire day. I thought about how he acknowledged my hard work and the sacrifices he saw me make for our children. Needless to say, I miss his presence on Mother’s Day as well.

As I was sitting reminiscing about these two amazing people who have passed on and left me with these wonderful, love filled memories, I began to think about my two sons. How The Lord blessed me with them and how much joy they bring me (even when they get on my nerves). I reminded myself of how they were my motivation after my husband passed to keep going regardless of how I was feeling and despite my wanting to curl up in a corner and die. I told God how grateful I am for them and I thanked Him for blessing me with them.


I came across a verse the other day that says:


Isaiah 66:13: As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you;

WOW! I love how God sends His Word right when we need it! God is the ultimate comfort and He tells us that He will comfort us as a mother comforts her children. Now that’s some comforting because as mothers we don’t want to see our children hurting and we will do all we can to take away the pain. God wants to care for you in the same way. He will walk alongside you in the midst of your pain and He will comfort you. Take refuge in that and know that God sees, He cares, and He’s concerned about everything that concerns you.

Just so you know Mother’s Day turned out to be an okay day for me. After church we went to my sister’s house and my oldest cooked for us. My sister and I exchanged gifts and we received gifts from our children. We watched movies and enjoyed each others company. It turned out to be a good day.


I always say these are the cards that I have been dealt and it’s my job to play them well. I’m saying to you, on those special days, when the moments come- acknowledge them, embrace them and keep moving forward.



Danyell Shaw


National Single Parents Day

Posted on March 21, 2019 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (2)

Did you know that today March 21 is Single Parent Day? I had no idea. Yeah back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed this date “National Single Parents Day”. The late President stated, “many single parents in America are making valiant efforts on behalf of their children under trying circumstances.” After getting a divorce my late mother was thrust into single motherhood. She was by far the strongest woman I have ever known. It was three of us with myself being the oldest (I was 13 at the time). She dedicated her life to making sure we were taken care of. I commend her to this day for my upbringing.

No one that I know chooses to be a single parent. As a Widow I choose to use the phrase “solo parent” because I didn’t have a choice in this- it was given to me after my husband passed away. I don’t get breaks on the weekends, my sons don’t have visitation with their Dad, all of the decisions concerning them are left up to me and all of the support (emotionally, financially, etc.), comes from me. I will tell you in the unfortunate event that my late husband and I had gotten a divorce, he would still be an amazing Dad to our sons. He would have been there for them in every way because that’s the kind of Father he was. But I digress. This is what I want you to know- solo (single) parenting is difficult at times in general. If I’m honest there are days where I say what is the point in all of this- this is too much- I didn’t ask for this. Truthfully it can be overwhelming. If you know a solo (single) parent, offer your support, not your judgment. Try to help them in any way you can. Spend time with the children if you’re able. Simply put- just be there. I have to say I am so appreciative of the men who have stepped up to help me with my sons. They can’t replace their Dad (and they don’t try to), but they definitely make a huge positive difference in their lives. Also to all of the family and friends who have been right there with us. I appreciate you all.

Shout out to my fellow solo (single) parents. We are doing an amazing job! Keep going- I know all of our hard work will pay off after a while and the reward will be amazing!

Danyell Shaw

The overwhelming majority of single parents don’t choose single parenthood. Rather, it chooses them. Most of us don’t grow up wishing to parent alone, but because of circumstances, such as abandonment, divorce, and death, 23 million American children are being raised by a single parent. Across this nation, single mothers and fathers advocate, nurture, juggle and sacrifice on behalf of their children. Sometimes this means working extra shifts to afford music lessons, sacrificing vacation days to stay home with a sick child or passing on a promotion because it requires travel. Day in and day out, single parents selflessly put their own needs aside, often compromising sleep, self-care and leisure because of their commitment to their children.

Excerpt from Working Mother article


Happy Anniversary

Posted on August 2, 2018 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

August 1, 1998. The day you gave me your last name. The day we said I Do to each other and God. The day we recited our vows. That we would love each other- for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, til death do us part. Hmm....... I remember saying those words and I meant them. I just didn’t expect death to come so soon for us. We celebrated 17 wedding anniversaries together. Today, August 1, 2018, is our 20th wedding anniversary. The third one I’ve had to face without you. I don’t take myself to dinner or anything like that. I try to go about my day. But my thoughts and my heart are fully on you.

One thing I can say is that we lived and fulfilled our vows to each other. Even on the rough, hard days. That part makes me feel really good. That we fulfilled our vows in spite of......

In the midst of my hurt I'm yet grateful to God for allowing me to be married for 17 years. I thank God for giving me a man who showed me what true love is. I cherish the time we had together.

To my married friends, make sure to love your spouse because sometimes life brings about changes and there may come a day where you'll want to but can't.

Mark 10: 6-9

6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God bless you all,

Danyell Shaw 

I didn't realize how far I've (We've) come!

Posted on July 24, 2018 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (5)

It has been a little over 2 1/2 years since my husbands death. Life as I knew it is completely different now. I remember after seeing his body at the hospital stating to a friend of mine with tears rolling down my face, “how are my sons and I going to make it without him? We can’t do this without him.” Thinking about that even now makes my heart ache.

After hours of being at the hospital, with my sons, family and friends in the room with his lifeless body, someone had gotten my mother in law on the phone, she was in Dallas, and she told me, “Dannie it’s time for you to go home now. I’m on my way.”

I remember someone drove us home-I think my Brother in law. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t sleep. I was a zombie. Those next days, weeks just kinda crept along. My sons and I were just going through the motions of life. They went back to school and I went back to work. At the beginning I wasn’t able to do anything. Thank God for our support system. My husbands fraternity brother took the boys to school and took me to work everyday for a month. My sister and brother in law picked us up and brought us home. Different people brought food, cleaned the house, and other things that I didn’t have the mind or strength to do. I’m so thankful to those people who stepped in during that time. I had friends who flew in from Memphis and Dallas to help us go through and clean out stuff in the house. When I think about it, my sons and I have been truly blessed.

I can’t tell you when exactly but one day I was able to drive the boys to school and myself to work. I was able to go to Walmart, I started preparing meals again, I started coming out of that haze. Since then we’ve moved from St. Louis back to Dallas. My sons started attending school in a different school district, my oldest son has graduated hgh school and is headed to college next month.

My point is this, we are in a better place than we were 2 1/2 years ago. What I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do, I’m doing it (by the grace of God). Other widows would tell me that it gets better and I’ll be honest, I didn’t believe them. Now I realize they were telling the truth. At some point I realized I had to do this- this new life brought on by unexpected and truth be told unwanted circumstances. It wasn’t what I wanted or what I planned but I had to take what I was given and work with it. I remember looking at my sons (who were 15 and 10 when their Dad died), and saying Danyell, you have to get it together girl, for these boys, you have to do what you have to do. I realized that I was the only living parent they have and they became my motivation. When I didn’t feel like going to work, when I didn’t feel like moving out of the bed, I thought about them. It’s called survival mode.

Everyone says you’re so strong and let me say, grievers don’t like to hear that. We don’t feel strong, we just do what we have to do. Because we don’t have a choice.

But I’ve been thinking lately that maybe I am strong. I was given lemons and I’m making lemonade. One day at a time, life is getting better and sweeter. Only when I sit and think do I realize how far I’ve come. Tears still come at times, my heart gets heavy at times but it’s different. I really can’t explain it other than it’s gotten better. Circumstances (life) happen to us all but we have to make a choice as to what to do with them. I refuse to be bitter. My sons and I have purpose and life ahead of us. Keep going keep moving forward. We will thrive, not just survive.

Danyell Shaw

Graduation Feelings

Posted on May 31, 2018 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I really don’t even know how to begin this post. My oldest son is graduating tomorrow from high school. I am so proud of him and I’m excited about his future. I must admit though I keep thinking this child is graduating and I feel his Dad should be here. So, on top of the regular emotions that come with a child graduating and preparing to leave “the nest”, I have all of these other feelings along with that. For example, how proud my late husband would be, how he would be the one screaming the loudest when they call out our son’s name, how he would assist me in making college decisions for our son. So many other thoughts and emotions to list here.

Yesterday all of these thoughts and emotions came rolling out of my eyes. All along I’ve been keeping it in, putting on a strong front, you know the drill. But seriously, this makes my heart hurt. I know God has a plan and He makes no mistakes. Although I know that it doesn’t make it any easier. I realize there are some things I won’t understand until I get to Heaven. I’m sure I’ll have many more moments, (my Sister has already said she will tissues available for me at his graduation, LOL) and that’s okay because I’m human. I’ll have my moment(s) and then keep on moving.

It’s amazing how we can have such happy moment(s) and yet there is some sadness there. Simply because his presence is missed. I want you all to know that I am one proud mother. My son has overcome so many obstacles, ones that I feel he shouldn’t have even had to deal with at 15. But God strengthened him to make it through and I know He will continue to give him strength for the journey.

Son, if you read this, I want you to know how amazing you are. You have grown into a wonderful young man. Is there another word for proud? Hmm, let’s see, well-pleased, glad, happy, delighted, overjoyed…. You get the drift. That’s how I feel about you and I know your Dad does too.

Danyell Shaw

“Always strive for greatness!”

The late Pastor Ronald Shaw Jr.

The First Lady

Posted on April 28, 2018 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Today I want to feature a post from a very good friend of mine Denyse Turner. Like me, Denyse is a Pastors Widow and we met online. Over the past two years we have become wonderful friends. Being a Widow is difficult, and when you add on the fact that your husband was a Pastor it adds even more challenges. Take a look at Denyse’s thoughts of her journey as a Pastor’s Widow.

P.S. Denyse has a website, www.firstladyministries.org where you can find this post and more. Check it out.

God bless you all,



I first met my husband in kindergarten in Baltimore Maryland. We were always proud of the time that we had known each other. I became a Preacher’s Wife in March 1979 and a Pastor’s Wife in December 1980. My husband only pastored two churches in his ministerial career. Throughout my husband’s entire ministerial/pastoral career, I worked side by side with him tirelessly, however, I became The Forgotten FIRST lady!

As committed Christians, we erroneously thought that Christians were full of love and compassion. We found out the hard way this was not always correct. My husband transitioned November 22, 2015 from severe depression and betrayal at the hands of his church.

Now I’m sure lots of questions immediately enter your mind. They will all be answered, either through this post or my upcoming book. Stay tuned and follow us!


Our honeymoon lasted for 37 years! Honestly! Although we almost separated after 30 days, we decided that we exchanged vows, not only in front of our family and friends, but more importantly, in front of God. That was enough for us to say, no matter what life brings, we are sticking it out. We even found the secret to never arguing. We had one major argument in our marriage.

Did we have stressful times in our lives? Absolutely and of course! Just as anybody does but we learned how to deal with them and get through them. Although I had been in church all of my life, my husband taught me most of what I know. I hardly ever attended Bible Study in my home church. My husband and I were married at the ripe old age of 22 years old. So, my spiritual journey really began with him.

Evolving into a “First Lady” was stressful for me. I was never one for public activities. I was perfectly fine operating behind the scenes. I knew my husband was a preacher when we married but it never dawned on me that he was called to “pastor“! I think he knew not to tell me that ahead of time. So, when he decided to follow that call, I was shocked! But as the good wife who made promises to my husband, I followed.

He was Pastor of the St. John Baptist Church of Baltimore Maryland for 8 years. That was really a training ground for us both. At the end of those 8 years, he felt the call was bigger. We loved that church and her members. To this day, we still maintain good relationships with them. So, that was a difficult decision to make. I was also in an established career and did not want to interrupt it. But again, I was the Good Wife! I’m starting to feel like Julianna Margulies.

After doing some research and searching for opportunities, God opened the door in Paterson NJ in 1988 at the Christ Temple Baptist Church. We remained there as the Pastor and the First Lady until his demise. We both felt that Christ Temple was ordained for us. On the exact same day that they marched into their current building, my husband was preaching his initial sermon. This was where God was placing him many years before we even realized it.

Our years at Christ Temple were filled with much work. Many new ministries were developed and implemented and my husband became involved in the community, as did I. He served as the Senior Chaplain of the Paterson Fire Department for 25 years. He was just remembered at their Annual Memorial Service on Sunday June 5, 2016. I was active with the Paterson Alliance which provides networking and connecting opportunities with non-profits in the city. This led to my writing a personal grant which developed a Computer Lab for the church. The amount of ministries developed there are too numerous to name. But we were happy with our work there!


On Sunday, May 31, 2015, our work and world came crashing down. This section will avoid many details as it will be explained further in the upcoming book. My husband was presented with a letter by a ministry leader that took us both by surprise. We couldn’t even believe what it said. That was something that we both had to take to God in prayer.

Once we had prayed about it, our answer was “stand still”. That’s exactly what we did. We went on about our lives. My husband was preparing for a back surgery. There were no issues there; I had two back surgeries and recovered well. The surgery was to be in June 2015. Unfortunately, his cardiologist could not clear him for surgery because he said he had a Silent Heart Attack. We were baffled but came to understand why. He had been betrayed and was depressed! He was given medication and a new surgery date, which was July 22, 2015.

On July 22, 2015, he underwent surgery at the Holy Name Medical Center, which was successful! He was on the mend and on his way back to his position of Pastor. During his time of surgical rehabilitation, he would say every day, “I don’t believe they did this to me after over 26 years”.

We had to constantly pray to ask God for guidance. I noticed as time went on that I was the only one praying. He said he just didn’t feel like it. My response? I’m praying enough for both of us! And I was. He began to decline daily. I asked for a Psychological Evaluation, which was done and he was placed on medication. I was able to take him to church during his time in rehab but he didn’t really participate.

Time continued to move. When he said he did not want to talk with his grandchildren, I knew something was seriously wrong. He declined to talk, he declined his meals and he declined to engage in life. This continued to November 22, 2015 – exactly 4 months to the date of the surgery. “22” is now a significant number in my life.


This was THE absolutely most traumatic event in my life! I cried incessantly, numerous times a day for 4 months straight! At the 5th month, the Holy Spirit said “dry your eyes and get up; you have work to do”! That’s exactly what I did. He gave me the energy and motivation to get up and work. He laid out my “new” journey and purpose. I still have waves of grief that last for a few days or longer.

There are so many people who have experienced trauma in their lives, whether physical/sexual abuse, divorce, infidelity, social awkwardness, violent acts, natural disasters, serious injuries, witnessing a violent act or even the sudden unexpected loss of someone close – as in my case, etc. Many times, people get “stuck” in their pain. A terminal sense of doom clouds their days and fogs their nights.

Emotional pain is a natural state in life’s journey. When we fail is when we choose to remain in that pain. That is grief and is a kind of death. I refused to allow myself to die! My children and grandchildren were depending on me. They had already lost their father and grandfather. I had to learn to depend on God heavily and learn the steps of grief and recovery. Part of that is undergoing grief counseling with my therapist.

Additionally, because my husband was my primary provider, I lost his income. Because of the situation in the letter, I further learned there was no life insurance. When I tell you that God has been my shadow, He has and is!! He is the only REASON I have survived financially, because unfortunately, nothing came from the church – although my husband and I spent years building up the Benevolent Fund. God has sent people to assist in this journey. I couldn’t even apply for survivors’ benefits until August 2016. For nine (9) months, I depended on family and friends to survive. I lost so much more than my husband during this period.

My husband fulfilled his command from God. He was faithful to the end – not only to God but also his family – and the Holy Spirit has already confirmed to me that He’s pleased! He also showed me that He protected my husband by calling him home when He did. That gave me some peace. This is where my husband’s journey ends.

This is where my journey begins! I am following God’s lead! God has opened doors for me to share how people can move from their pain to discover their God intended purpose. I have never even imagined some of the things He has placed in my path, like regional and national stages. God is awesome!

God is directing and ordering EVERY step I make and take. There is nothing too small for me to ask for God’s guidance. As I continue on this journey and deal with additional stress, I am honored to be used by God!

Although I miss my husband and lifelong friend tremendously, God has shown me that His plan for me is even greater. So, here I go!

If you are looking for a speaker who will impact your audiences with step by step instructions on getting through their pain to their purpose, please think of The FIRST lady.

I also plan custom cruise groups for faith-based and individual organizations.

I can be reached at [email protected] or at 201-228-0425.

Promotional materials are being developed.

God bless you on your NEW journeys!


Denyse H. Turner, L.H.D, M.P.H., M.A., ACC

First Lady helping others win!

I am picking up ministry where my husband left off!

Public Speaker/Author/Grantwriter/Ghostwriter/Trainer/Counselor/Faith-Based Travel Educator

First Lady and Chief Connector at Dr. Gregory C. Turner, Late Pastor of Christ Temple Baptist Church

Guest Post- Tre Shaw

Posted on March 29, 2018 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm excited to present a writing from my oldest son. He is graduating from high school in June of this year. He wrote this essay in October 2017 for an AP English IV college essay writing assignment. When he sent it to me to read I was amazed at how well written it was, although I shouldn't have been, he's always been a great writer, and to see his thoughts since the passing of his father written out on paper blew my mind. His father passed when he was 15, a few months before his 16th birthday so to have him express his feelings so genuinely brought tears to my eyes. But enough of my banter. Take a read........

Life wasn’t always like this. I had a nice house; I had friends, and family too; I had two loving parents. Then my father was taken from me. Now no house, friends no longer with me(except the real ones of course), family mistreats me. The words echoing in my head, “you are the man of the house now,” from people I didn’t even know. I remember the burden of having to step up as the new leader of my family. When we relocated to Texas, my mother told me “everything will be okay, I promise. God will take care of us.” I remember doubting the stability of my family; my little brother screaming at me “you’re not my daddy” rings loud in my ears; my mother still believing that everything would be okay. I made a promise during that time. I promised that I would be the man of the family that my father was. That I would be strong for my mother and little brother when they were vulnerable.

I remember coming to the realization that I could not replace my father, for how could you replace the man that nurtured and cared for you the way he did. However, I made it my goal to be the best I could be for my family. I did what I could to take the stress off of my mother. Sometimes it worked, and of course sometimes it didn’t. I remember the countless nights embracing my mother because she wept, not knowing what to do. I learned a lot from this point in my life. I learned the importance of responsibility, the traits of a leader, and the words of a comforter. I learned to not put my faith in people, which I had so often done before. I realized that people would turn their back on me and make blank promises. All of these experiences and realizations molded me as clay into who I am today.

Nowadays, I’m a senior anticipating graduation, which is the purpose of this essay. I’m applying to colleges, trying to prepare myself for the next stage in my life. All the while, I’m taking care of my grades and my family. My mother, of course, still tries to keep me in the dark about financial and other issues, as she says a mother should. Don’t even get me started about her utmost refusal to let me get a job to help out around the house. I have once again grown accustomed to Texas life and society, since it has been so long(10 years to be exact) since I have moved from Texas to Missouri. I am a better person and a better man. I would definitely say that I was raised in a very unique home in a very unique way, but all I can say is that it worked.

Trials and tears have littered my life. I had a choice to either let them pollute my happiness or to clean up. I chose the latter and I am all the better for it, and when I get down and feel weak, I think of the promise that I made two years ago. I think of how proud my father is of me right now for stepping up and taking on responsibility that I did not ask for. I picture him looking down and saying, “look at my son. Look how old he has gotten. Look how responsible he has become.” I can even feel a tinge of humor from him, like, “why couldn’t he do that when I was down there?” This sort of self-treatment works every time.


Danyell Shaw