2/15/18

{he.loves.me.that.much}

i didn't post yesterday because i wrote and re-wrote this post over and over in my head all day and couldn't put into words what i wanted to put into words ...

here i am today, still not sure how to do it, but i'm going to give it a try. sometimes once my fingers hit the keys, the words flow freely, as if my fingers are doing the talking.

february 14, 1992 ... do you remember what you were doing?

a friend of mine does ... she was having a baby! i remember that well! we got the call and i was so excited! i was excited because it was cool to share such a special day with my sweet friend and her beautiful new baby as it was also my wedding day to my best friend, rickey! february 14, 1992 was the day we had chosen to get married. the day our adventure began and the day that was the beginning of our happily ever after, our i'll love you until forever, the beginning of our story of taking this journey of life side by side, hand in hand. valentine's day, at the time seemed so romantic and so fun, and so practical! now rickey could never forget our anniversary, right? hallmark would make sure of that!

little did i know that our happily ever after, our i'll love you forever, our love story would come to a screeching halt less than 20 years later ...

not that the loving stopped. i loved him on february 14, 1992, i loved him on november 5, 2011 and i still love him today. death does not stop love, it just puts it into a new dimension. our story didn't "end" that day, as our beautiful children carry their daddy's legacy and he continues to shine the light of his love through him.

but ... the story of him & me, the story of rickey & sheila, the story of a "happily ever after" reached the point in our wedding vows that none of us like to consider, the "until death do us part" portion of those vows.

when you are 24 and starry eyed in love, that part of your vows seems like a long time in the future. a long, long, long time in the future. a let's have kids and grand kids and great grand kids time away. a we'll retire and travel together, and a let's get old and gray together time away. a "forever" time away.

so ... when that part of the story comes way sooner than you think it will, and your life becomes different than you ever thought it would, what then? what happens then?

when my "love story" as i knew it took a drastic turn on november 5, 2011 there was honestly only one thing i knew for certain, well actually two. rickey was safely at home in the arms of Jesus and God doesn't make mistakes. 

but ... where did that leave me? 

having spent nearly 20 years as rickey & sheila ... what now?

i was only 45, i wasn't buried in the cemetery next to rickey ... there must be more ... but what?

well, i shouldn't have been surprised to realize that in as much as God had been there on february 14, 1992 and on every day between then and november 5, 2011, He was also there on november 6, 2011 and every day that came after that!

to say that i have seen God's hand at work throughout my whole life seems like such an understatement, but it will have to suffice, because there aren't words big enough to accurately describe His presence and His peace and His love that He has lavished upon me!

one of the many blessings that He has lavished on me and one of the ways He has shown His love to me is in allowing me to be happy, truly happy again by giving me the opportunity to love again! the opportunity to have someone else to love and cherish and adore. someone to serve and submit to under God's authority ... a "new" someone to call husband!

i do not take this gift lightly, and each day, i realize more and more how truly blessed i am!

what i really wanted to share with this post though, was the amazing respect that i have seen my "new" love, rick show for the beautiful love that rickey & i shared by his response to february 14.

i have to be absolutely honest too, and say that i believe that this is the first year that i truly understood and respected and appreciated rick's reaction, and response to february 14.

the first year rick and i were married, i looked forward to valentine's day with anticipation {or should i say expectation?} ... would he get me flowers, or candy or some pretty, sparkly piece of jewelry? 

the answer to the above question was no. no, he didn't. he came home with flowers & stuffed animals for the girls, but not for me. i was a little baffled, a little hurt, but i tried to smile bravely and appreciate the love he was showing to the girls even though i wondered why i didn't receive anything.

in the years that followed, valentine's day was quiet. while friends were posting their dinners out and their flowers, or their chocolates or their sparkly pieces of new jewelry, i liked their posts, i commented how sweet their gifts were, all the while wondering how i could change rick and be the recipient of some of these things on this hallmark holiday that i placed so much value on.

at times, i forgot all of the little and big things that rick did for me on the other 364 days of the year as i either waited in anticipation of "this" day, or felt sorry for myself when my expectations of this "day" didn't come to pass. these hallmark holidays sure can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in a relationship, can't they?

little did i know, that rick was not ignoring this day. he didn't love me any less on february 14 than he did on february 13 or february 15! 

actually, he probably loved me MORE!

yes, more!

as our relationship grew, and we were able to talk through things without me getting irrationally emotional {i know, i'd never do that, right?} i slowly began to understand.

i began to understand that he loved me enough to keep february 14 low key. this was his way of honoring what "was". what rickey and i had. what i saw as his inability to meet my expectations on february 14, was actually his way of showing his utmost love and respect for me, for my previous marriage, for the life that i had shared with rickey. 

it may have taken me six years of spending valentine's day with this man for me to really "get" it, but now that i do, it only makes me love him more! this year, we had a quiet dinner at home. we ran to town and got culver's {a favorite treat} and came home and watched the olympics. no fireworks. no huge bouquets of flowers. no sparkly new jewelry or fancy dinners out. no huge boxes of heart shaped candy ... just quiet, soft spoken love. of mutual respect and understanding. of a wonderful man showing respect to another wonderful man and honoring a day for what it meant in the past.

my "valentine" from rick is a truly treasured gift. he loves me enough to keep one day of the year special, honoring a love that was and is no more.

in my mind, that is a gift to treasure and i love you for it rick, more than you will ever know!

thank you for loving me, and being patient with me until i finally "got it"




2/10/18

{use.your.good.dishes}


i was recently having a conversation with a group of ladies about deep-house cleaning ... a.k.a. "purging" and had stumbled upon a few articles that are too good not to share!

the first is "swedish death cleaning" {don't let the name scare you} which you can link to HERE

& the other is "89 things to remove from your home & your life" which you can read HERE 

while you may not follow every bit of this advice, there is some valuable information that may just be the inspiration that you need to get started!

we have done 3 what i would call major purges in the last 5 years, and with each, i find i want to get rid of more! the less stuff we have, the more enjoyable our life has become! it is so much easier to keep the house clean, to find things i'm looking for and to focus on the things that really matter!

during my last cleaning spree, i was cleaning in the basement. just that week, i had been on the lookout for some new dishes, because you  know, the 2 sets in my cupboard weren't "enough" for me. as i went through the dusty boxes stored on shelves in the basement, i opened one to discover some china dishes i'd nearly forgotten about. years ago, when my grandma had to move from her home to the nursing home, i'd inherited a partial set of china from her & ironically {?} a former pastor's wife had gifted me a set of china for my "hope chest" that she'd received and didn't particularly love that was the identical set to my grandma's partial set. these dishes had been sitting on a shelf, in a cardboard box, collecting dust in the basement untouched for 20+ years. since i'd recently been on the lookout for a set of dishes, i proceeded to clean out my kitchen cabinets, donating all the other plates, cups, bowls & more that had collected there and we now have one set of dishes, and yes, they are the combined china sets. 

yes, they are pretty, yes, most people would save them for their "good" dishes, their "company" dishes, but why? isn't saturday night pizza with my husband who i love dearly a special occasion? aren't burgers on the grill with my parents a reason to celebrate? aren't bbq ribs with our kids a reason to enjoy something nice? isn't every single day that God has gifted me with reason enough to use my good dishes? in addition to making every day a reason to celebrate, i opened up extra space in my kitchen cabinets, i simplified my life and i made use of something that was taking up space in the basement.

today, i want to challenge you, if you are looking to start making your life more relaxed, more enjoyable and certainly much more stress free, consider just one way you can remove something from your life that you really CAN live without! 

if you are brave enough, share with us what that item was ... and if you want some of my hints towards a more simple life, feel free to reach out to me, i'd love to share with you more of how we've done it, and how freeing it really is!



2/7/18

{ever have one of "those" days?}

i really want to sit down and blog.

everyday.

not to be famous.

not so you'll read it.

but for my sanity.

to put ink to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard.

because i believe that, for me, writing, journaling, even with jumbled thoughts is good. 

it has proven in the past to be restorative, refreshing, refining and yes, even relaxing ... and for my "type a" personality that is good ... "relaxing" to me is not knitting, or crocheting or cross stitching, nothing that takes longer than a day to complete is relaxing, it becomes stressful, i like the "instant gratification" of putting words to paper and seeing them then and there, no waiting for the finished project {anyone else relate to that?}!

but ...

some days, i don't blog because i have too many thoughts ... they are all running around in my head like 100's of open computer tabs, and i can't focus on one tab long enough to make a coherent sentence, much less a journal, or blog entry.

some days, i don't blog because, i feel i have nothing worthwhile to put in writing, but really, that is never true because each day that God gives me breath is a worthwhile day.

some days i don't blog because honestly, life hurts and those hurts feel like are too much to put out there for all to read.

some days i don't blog because life is so busy and fun and filled that there just isn't time.

some days i don't blog because i feel lonely and i don't want that to come across in a post, because i don't want to appear needy.

some days i don't blog because i'm so full of joy and excitement that i don't want to sound like i'm bragging, and have someone think that my life is perfect all the time - especially if they are facing a difficulty of their own.

some days i don't blog because i'm worried about what the future holds, my parents health, my kids well being, my marriage, my job, my finances, my future.

some days ...

can you relate?

is your life a jumble of days, some the same or similar to those i listed above?

friends, i want to remind you, as i need to stop and remind myself ...

on the day when my brain has 100's of tabs open, i need mark 4:39
"peace, be still"

on the day when i feel like i have nothing worthwhile to write, i need to remind myself of psalm 139
He knows what every day holds even before it happens and He ordained it!

on the days when life hurts, i need to remember psalm 147:3
"He heals the broken hearted"

on the days when i'm so busy and life is so fun-filled, i need to share proverbs 17:22
"a cheerful heart is good medicine" and i need to share that good medicine with others!

on the days that i feel lonely, i need to be reminded of joshua 1:9
"God is with you"

on the joy filled days, i need to remember where my true joy comes from psalm 16:11
"you will fill me with joy in Your presence"

on the days when i seem to forget that fear and faith cannot co-exist, i need to remember isaiah 41:10
"fear not for I am with you"

basically, every day, in every situation, i need to remember Him! 

He is the giver of all of my days ... 

the great days.

the good days.

the joy-filled days.

the sad days.

the lonely days.


every.single.day.in.between!

He gave me these days and i need to always remember

THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE, I WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT!
psalm 118:24

what kind of day are you having today?

share your praise or prayer request in the comments ... i promise, i will pray for you! 

2/1/18

{i'm not a good "waiter"}


i am not a good "waiter"

i don't like to wait for anything! when i was pregnant, all the books said that baby could safely arrive anytime after 36 weeks, so guess what? my impatience kicked in at 36 weeks & 1 day {and baby #1 was 10 days late - God was really teaching me a lesson!} i don't like waiting for my food when i order it, i don't like waiting for the mail if i'm expecting something, i don't like doing projects like quilting or knitting or cross-stitch that may take weeks or months to complete ... patience is not my virtue!

Lord, give me patience, and give it to me now, please!

i am working on it, and i'm getting some better, but it's still a big challenge to me! just this morning when i mentioned to rick that i've been awake since 3:37 a.m. he said it's because i want instant gratification. i'm waiting on the Lord for a few things, and i'm trying {really hard} to leave it all in His tender, loving hands, but truth be told, yes, that's it, i want to know what the future holds and i want to know it ... yesterday! i'm not necessarily anxious as in worried, just excited to see Him work and move ... but still anxious, and wanting it in my timing, not His!

how very appropriate that i found a calendar with a verse of the day [#votd} for the month of february and this is the verse for today,

"we walk by faith, not by sight" 2 corinthians 5:7

and then my Bible app verse of the day is,

"be still and know that I am God." psalm 46:10

if that wasn't enough, my "Jesus Calling" devotional started out,

"follow Me, one step at a time" and one of the Scripture passages for today? yep, you guessed it, 2 corinthians 5:7

well, then.

Lord, help me to trust in Your way and Your time! help me to follow You and know that all things happen in Your time and for my good and Your glory! help me to be patient as i wait on You and to walk by faith in You! help me to be still and not try to rush on ahead of Your. plans for my life. You have shown me time and time again that Your ways are always better, help me to remember that each day! amen.

1/30/18

{truth}


"Worship Me only. Whatever occupies your mind the most becomes your god."

sounds so simple doesn't it? i think most of us, me included would say that it's the God {capital G}, Lord of Heaven and earth who we worship but when we look closer, is that always true? is it Him that i run to first when i have a problem or is it my  husband or a friend or google? is it Him who occupies my mind when i have some down time or is it surfing the net, catching up on facebook or watching tv? these things are not wrong in and of themselves, but when they come before God or i spend more time with them/doing them than seeking God, they can quickly become my idols, my "little 'g' gods"

who or what occupies more of my time? spending time with God and His Word, the Bible or some of those other things? those other things can be very good things. they can include reading Christian books, serving, loving, helping others. but when those other things start to come before my relationship with God and His Word, the Bible, they have become a "little 'g' god". when i am reading these books, am i following them blindly or am i comparing them against the Bible? am i turning to these books, written by human hand for my guidance and instruction or am i using them as a companion to the proven, inerrant Word of God? what is the bottom line, where is my basis for how i act, how i respond and the decisions i make each day? is it founded on my Bible study book or God's book? i'm going through a great Bible study right now with an on-line community of beautiful, Christian ladies but i find that i need to daily check where i'm basing truth ... is it in the words written by wendy blight in the book "i am loved" {or anything else i may be reading} or is my truth backed up by the Holy Scriptures ... the ones that are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" {2 timothy 3:16}

2 timothy as a whole is an amazing passage to read. in it we are reminded that in the last days, we will be led astray by godlessness ... there will be those {and their teachings}  "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power {vs 5}" we are told to "avoid such people. for among them are those who creep into households and capture ... leading astray ... {men will be} always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth" {vs.5-7}. as we read further, we are instructed "continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" { vs 14 & 15}. chapter 4 goes on to say "for the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn from listening to the truth and wander off into myths" {vs 3 & 4}. 

ouch! what a good reminder to always come back to scripture, to test what you have read, or heard or believed to be true against God's Holy Word, the Bible! so often what i read in the Bible is hard to hear. it points out hard truths, ways that i am not pleasing God, things i am doing/not doing and ways that i need to change. i don't like what i read, or don't fully understand what i'm reading so i turn to other sources ... friends, facebook, google, books written by man. this is not what i should be doing, and i need to change my focus. my one true God the only true God is found in His word! i need to guard my heart and mind and make sure that all of the "little 'g' gods" clamoring for my attention take their rightful place in my life. i need to worship Him and Him alone. i need to seek Him first and follow His Words for my life first!

dear Lord, let me seek you first in all that i do today. let me put the "little 'g' gods" where they belong and follow You first and foremost. help me to seek out and be aware of those other things that i'm letting creep into my life that keep me from You. lead me, guide me, direct me in all that i do today. help my life be in service to You and You alone! amen.


1/16/18


some days, life is easy, the sun is shining and all seems right with the world.

other days, it seems the sun will never shine again, questions abound, finances loom, fear assails.

"You hem me in behind and before and lay your hand upon me." 

what a promise!

on the good days, the bad days and the normal, ho-hum, everyday days ...

GOD IS THERE!

we are hemmed in by Him and His ever gracious, loving protection and provision.

verse 5 of psalms 139 tells us that not only is He all around us, but He lays His hand on us ... He is personal, He is not detached, watching from afar, but His hand, that hand, that beautiful nail scarred hand that was pierced for you and for me is laid upon us! truly "such knowledge is too wonderful for me".

He has been in our past {You hem me in behind}, He is in our present {You lay Your hand upon me} and He knows our future {You hem me in before}!

He is behind, before, above, below, and on either side of me!

this knowledge really is far beyond my scope of comprehension.

my frail, limited human mind cannot grasp the depth and height and breadth of a love so all encompassing!

i can get a small glimpse of it when i consider the love i have for my girls, or my parents, or my husband, but even that is limited by my human-ness.

the knowledge, the wonder, the all encompassing love that God has for me exceeds any knowledge that i possess ... and i don't believe i will ever fully understand it until i reach my eternal home in heaven.

until then though, this great love that hems me in is a comfort beyond comfort on the most difficult of days, it is the sunshine on the days that seem the sun will never shine, it is the grace that holds me and the life that sustains me when i feel like i can't move forward. 

it is the love that i got a glimpse of when i first peered into the faces of my beautiful newborn babies. 

it is the love that sustained me when the doctor spoke those words that forever changed my life on november 5, 2011.

it is the tip of the iceberg of the love and joy i felt being able to say *i do* when He allowed me to find love again, and the sheer happiness i felt watching my girls experience that same love and commitment when they said their wedding vows!

here in the *yoop* {michigan's upper peninsula} it is the dead of winter ... days are short {but getting longer}, temperatures are cold {but getting warmer}, snow is plentiful {but beautiful to behold} and i know that many suffer from the *winter blues* {i know that many of you in other places suffer the same}.

how different would our lives, our outlooks, our emotions be if we could continue to keep our focus on Him rather on the weather, or our circumstances, our perceived lack of material possessions, of the love we so desperately seek, our health, our relationships or the many other things that sometimes threaten to bring us to the brink of despair?

to fully realize that He has *hemmed us in* ... He goes before, He follows after, He is above and below and all around truly is a thought that should cause us to find peace and joy in every day, in each situation, and in each moment that we live!

dear Lord, as we live each day, sometimes in the sunshine and sometimes in the shadows, let us never stop looking to You to be our all! help us to remember that truly, Lord, You are really all we ever need.  You are the One who knows all, who goes before and behind, holding us close, knowing all there is to know about us. You know us, You love us, You lay your hand upon us. such knowledge is too great for us  to fully grasp, but please let us be aware of it! let us seek it out and hold on to it through the good days and the rough days. remind us daily to look to You and to trust that You have a plan for us and that you are going before us. thank You that You lay your hand upon us, love us and guide us, when we seek you with all our being. please provide comfort where comfort is needed, hope where hope feels lost. remind us to praise you when the days are sunny and to lean on you when they are not. thank You for this amazing love that You have freely extended to each of us, and let it be our strength and portion for each day that you give us breath here on this earth. amen.

remember ... you are cherished, loved and adored!

1/9/18


a couple of months back, i wrote a post about how i like to "chatter" {you can read it HERE} so this verse from psalm 139 is one that speaks directly to me!

since i met rick in july 2012, he has been encouraging me to write, specifically to write about losing rickey, and how God kept me through that time of great grief and great loss.

the problem is, i like to talk! writing is a good stress relief, but it's so much easier to just talk about it! sometimes when i write, there are too many words, and i really don't feel i convey them well, i tend to like to give too much detail!

all of this to say, i will continue to blog, i will continue to try and write so that i can tell the story of how mighty God was when i was at my weakest, and i hope that some day, in some way, these small snippets will be a blessing to someone else who is hurting or healing, someone who is grieving loss or searching for the God who restores.

for now, though, back to this verse ...

"before a word is on my tongue, you know it"

those words can bring you comfort or they can make you cringe!

because i can be a "chatterbox" my mind is more than full of things i could say regarding this verse but since you probably only have a few minutes to read this in the busy-ness of your day, i'll keep my thoughts short!

in God's all encompassing knowledge of us, He knows everything about us, including the words we speak. with that thought in mind, think of the words you spoke in the last 24 hours ... were they

kind
loving
uplifting
nurturing
encouraging

or were they

rude
harsh
biting
hurtful
sarcastic

also consider

what tone were they said in
what was your body language when you spoke them
was the intent behind them to build up or to tear down

though it is a commercial for auto insurance, i just love THIS because it portrays how the exact same words can carry such completely different emotion ... depending on the context and delivery!

the next time you open your mouth to speak, remember, God knows what you are going to say and remember, it's not just *what* you say but also *how* you say it!

ask Him to help you

to "set a guard over your mouth" {psalm 141:3}

to "let your conversation be full of grace" {colossions 4:6}

to speak "what is helpful for building others up according to their needs" {ephesians 4:29}

remember that "a gentle answer turneth away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" {proverbs 15:1}

as much as i *like* to talk, i am learning that sometimes it is best to walk away and pray before i speak. to give those words back to God before i just let them spill from my lips. i am slowly learning that being quiet together can be just as edifying and enjoyable as constant chatter! 

it's a process, but i'm working on it day by day!

dear Lord, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you. may i use words today that would encourage and edify others. please help me to hold my tongue when i feel mis-treated or unloved or quarrelsome or short tempered. help me turn to You before a word is on my lips and let the words that i speak be spoken in grace and love and humility! let me love and speak and serve in the way that would please You and encourage those to whom i am speaking. thank you for the promise that you are present even in my speech and that you long to help me use my words to love others well! amen.

remember ... you are cherished, loved and adored! 

{he.loves.me.that.much}

i didn't post yesterday because i wrote and re-wrote this post over and over in my head all day and couldn't put into words what ...