1/31/12

good stuff!

... today was filled with "good stuff".  By "good stuff", I'm meaning that GOD put SO MANY good thoughts in front of me that there are really TOO MANY to write about in one sitting - really they were THAT good!!



It started with "Jesus Calling" . . . "I am your Strength and Shield.  I plan out each day and have it ready for you, long before you arise from bed.  I also provide the strength you need each step of the way . . . I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go."  I PLAN OUT EACH DAY AND HAVE IT READY FOR YOU . . . long before you arise from bed!  That is amazing and comforting.  I have NOTHING to fear in the future because, as I've said before - HE is already there!  Of course, "where" He has gone before may not be where I'd CHOOSE to go, but if I'm following HIM, I will trust HIS choosing!

When the girls were little and I was an "at home mom", I faithfully attended "MOM's" group which was led by my Aunt Peggy.  There I forged friendships with moms who are still my friends today (I met my "sister" Donna there - when our "babies" were less than two months old!)!  She often talked of the "masks" we as women wear . . . there are many for many reasons . . . one I could always relate to was the "Sunday Morning Mask".  That mask you put on as you walk into church, so you look like that "nice little Christian family" as you enter the church doors.  Never mind that Sunday mornings at home were usually filled with tension (at least at our house!).  You have 5 days in a week to "perfect" your morning routine, but only 1 day a week to work on the Sunday morning routine . . . and usually (especially when the girls were little), that wasn't a good or "perfected" routine!  Anyway, a blog post I read today contained in part:  "...when suffering hits, when pain strikes, when tragedy comes, who you really are - what makes you YOU - the stuff about you that is down deep inevitably comes out . . . whatever masks you have been wearing go away . . . there you are standing showing the world what you are really made of."  This comment didn't speak to me because of what I'm made of, but because in this suffering, pain and tragedy, what WAS DEEP DOWN inevitably has come out.  I have realized how DEEPLY I love the LORD.  I have realized how much I TRUST Him, even in the darkest of days.  I have realized that what I have professed with my mouth, I DO believe in my heart.  And TO GOD BE THE GLORY for that!  I am glad that in that moment in the hospital on November 5, I CHOSE to continue to TRUST - even when it MADE NO SENSE!

I got another great devotional today and a friend had an awesome Facebook post, but those, I'll save for another night - my bed is calling my name tonight!

:The Lord is my strength and my shield;  my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." (even if I CAN'T sing!)  Psalm 28:7

1/30/12

He cares about EVERYTHING!

Late night, short post, posting as I walk on the treadmill actually....I am a multi-tasker!!!

I love the thought in the quote I posted! Tonight as I was struggling to get the W-2 forms ready for Township employees (yes, I know tomorrow is the deadline!), I could not get the software program (new one this year because I waited TOO LONG and couldn't get the same one as last year - ugh!) I bought to work. I prayed (a very desperate and impatient) PLEASE GOD and suddenly the answer to the question I had been searching for was RIGHT THERE in front of me! So even in my procrastination and impatience, HE reaches down in tender loving-kindness and rescues me yet again!

Ah, how I LOVE Him!!


There is NO SINGLE aspect of my life that HE is NOT concerned about!  He DOES care for me!  And if HE cares in things that are even my fault, and HE steps in and HELPS me, how much more then, in the BIG things?!


Today, I have a sick girl - no fun - for me or for her.  I came home at noon to be with her and crawled in bed with her and took a nap (maybe the reason for this burst of energy at almost midnight?!)  I don't like having sick kiddos - I feel SO HELPLESS :(  Gramma Milly brought her some chicken salad for supper which she TRIED to eat, and sweet Bobbi offered to come and check on her tomorrow if she stays home from school! :) Ah, NO SINGLE aspect of OUR lives that God is not concerned about!


Ah, how I LOVE Him!!

1/29/12

Bring every thought captive....

"Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me" ... Jesus Calling

What a great reminder! Especially when I am feeling overwhelmed... Due to my own procrastination, in most part! Posts this week will be short, or missing as I play catch up to Township work as well as surviving "Spirit Week" at school!

Also attempting this post through the Blogger app on my iPad...not sure how it'll work, so keeping it short!!!!

Even in my frazzled state, GOD still reigns! :)

"You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You!" Isaiah 26:3

1/28/12

...the most beautiful thing.... ♥

"Sometimes the most beautiful thing is precisely the one that comes unexpectedly and unearned." - Anna Freud

This is EXACTLY what I woke up to this morning!!  My sweet friend sent me a text message that read, "  Good morning my friend!  Just wanted you to know I'm praying for you on this Saturday.  That you are covered & hugged by the loving arms of our Creator!  Love you & have a great day!"  Before I could respond, she sent me ANOTHER text which read, "I'm such a bonehead**!  I just plowed ahead by TELLING you I was praying for you not ASKING you what YOU need in prayer!  I'm really sorry!  HOW can I pray FOR YOU today?  WHAT is it that you would like me to pray for you in the precious name of Jesus Christ?"  I'm working at being more "transparent", so I answered, "Since you asked, I'll go out of my comfort zone and tell you I'm feeling lonely .... Not desperately, just sad lonesome."  Her next text read, "O.K., I'm going to pray right now.  Lord Jesus, please be with your servant Sheila.  You fulfill our every need & desire.  Your love for us cannot be minimized...but sometimes we just want to be loved and held by our loved ones.  Rick is with you now, so his arms can't hug Sheila...please make your arms real to her...allow her to FEEL You right at this very moment.  And surround her with your glory.  In Your name Jesus, amen."  
**I laughed OUT LOUD at the bonehead comment because though this dear sister and I haven't seen each other face to face in many years, I could HEAR her saying that!! :) 

As if that weren't enough, in BETWEEN those texts, BEFORE she "prayed" for me via text message, ANOTHER friend texted this, "Hi friend.  I am thinking of you all every Saturday like I always do and pray that Jesus holds you a little tighter & closer to Him today.  You are not alone!  Big {{hugs}}"

WOW!  Two friends, two of those who I was referring to last night when I said "I have a few REALLY GOOD friends", two women of God, two women, living in two different cities, two women who DON'T know each other, so they could have NEVER coordinated their texts to me, yet EACH of them reaching out to me through the wonder of technology!  Reminding me that even on Saturday, or maybe {ESPECIALLY} on Saturday, I'm NOT ALONE! ♥  

Those two texts {and more importantly, the ♥LOVE♥ contained in them} came TOTALLY UNEXPECTEDLY!  And I did NOTHING to "earn" them . . . so, they fit the quote above PERECTLY . . . sometimes the most BEAUTIFUL thing is precisely the one that comes unexpectedly and unearned!  Our GOD is SO GOOD!  What a WAY to begin a day, any day, but ESPECIALLY a Saturday! ♥  Thank you, my two dear sisters - I LOVE YOU BOTH DEARLY! ♥

This afternoon, I brought my two "little" girls and the two "grand" girls to school for Cheer Camp (Taya was helping with it) and then I headed to the High School to catch up on a little work and get ready to sell tickets at the basketball game this afternoon.  When Tessa came a little while later, she said, "Mama, you got a package - and I peeked"!  I KNEW what the package was, but hadn't really told the girls, so as she pulled out the items, she thought it was pretty neat!  What arrived today were some "prizes" I won in my SWEET new friend (and already, one of those "REALLY GOOD frineds" who I refer to!) Leah's "Random Acts Of Kindness" blog contest!  In the package we found these things.....

A box of note-cards (in the brightly colored floral box) - I have been making a POINT to remember others, and drop them a note of encouragement . . . these were just PERFECT!!


Two Journals (butterflies & "Love" in the center of the picture) . . . ONE to KEEP, ONE to GIVE AWAY . . . a *R.A.O.K.


Two STARBUCKS gift cards . . . one to keep, one to give away . . . another *R.A.O.K.


And, a "Daily Prayer Organizer" . . . I have been trying to be so much more DELIBERATE about praying for others since Rick's death, this will be a WONDERFUL tool!!


* = RANDON.ACTS.OF.KINDNESS.

So, all in all, this was a WONDERFUL Saturday.  God used 3 dear ladies, from all over the country to BLESS ME beyond measure! 

When My Presence is the focal point of your consciousness, all the pieces of your life fall into place.  As you gaze at Me through the eyes of your heart, you can see the world around you from My perspective.  The fact that I am with you makes every moment of your life meaningful.  Jesus Calling {by Sarah Young}

And the devotional ended with verses from one of MY FAVORITE chapters of the Bible, Psalm 139, this time verses 1-4 . . . just another reminder on a Saturday (as well as EVERY other DAY!) that God IS in CONTROL!

"O Lord, You have searched me and You know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord."





t.o.d.a.y.





{disclaimer . . . long, rambling post to follow!}


Today…

Today I’m feeling lonesome.
  
Today I’m thankful for ♥ friends ♥ and laughter.

Today, I’m thinking about how the last 12 weeks have changed our lives.

Today, I’m thankful that GOD has held on to me TIGHTLY for the last 12 weeks.

Today,  I’m really missing my RICKEY . . . missing those things that you “just know” about someone after 20 years together.  Missing the private jokes that only he and I understood.  Missing him being a text away during the day.  Missing him watching the Hunting Channel as I surf the net before bedtime.  Missing life as I knew it for the last 20 years . . . .

Today, I’m TRUSTING in the LORD with ALL MY HEART, for today, I can’t lean on my own understanding, because, I really don’t understand!  

Sometimes, it’s hard to know WHAT to say here.  I do not write because I want pity.  I do not write to draw attention.  I do not write to make others feel bad . . . .

. . . . Yet, I still come to write each evening  -  or may day doesn’t feel complete.

So, here I am.

Rambling . . .

“…when you walk on this path (of trust), you live above your circumstances . . . relying on your own understanding will weigh you down.  Trust in Me absolutely, and I will make your path straight.”  - Jesus Calling

I work with a wonderful bunch of people.  In the midst of the busy-ness of the day, and the craziness that sometimes ensues, we still manage to have fun.  We, for the most part, like each other.  We have our own “private” jokes – that make us laugh – and other people look at us like we are just a little crazy!

Today was a day that I “noticed” those friendships, rather than just taking them for granted as I often do.  Yet, in that, today, I felt lonesome.  Because at the end of the day, though my house is filled with love and laughter, it is still DRASTICALLY changed.  Changed in a way I never dreamed, and I never would have asked for.

In life, I have many titles . . . up until 12 weeks ago, I was “wife”.  I am still “daughter”, “sister”, “sister-in-law”, “Mama”, “Auntie”, “Gramma Sheila”, “Miss Sheila”, “Mrs. Rye”, “friend” . . . and in those titles, there is an underlying theme . . .  “Caregiver”.  Real or imagined, I’m a “caregiver”.  I think I’ve always felt that “nurturing” spirit.  I remember how much I LOVED to play with my baby dolls when I was a little girl.  Even then, I loved to “take care” of someone/something!

I’m not saying that being a caregiver is a bad thing – it’s NOT!  But, I also find that sometimes I have to “let go” of some of the people I “care” for.  Over the past 12 weeks, I have {at least mentally}, “cared for” so many people that it makes me tired!  I’ve cared for the family whose house Rick was working at.  I’ve cared for the man (Kevin) who was helping him on the roof that day.  I’ve cared for the first responders {Rescue Squad & Police} who responded that day.  I’ve cared for the E.R. Dr. and Nurse.  I’ve cared for Rick’s and my parents & siblings, I’ve cared for Jim & Tony (who Rick worked with EVERY DAY), I’ve cared for his friends/hunting buddies/card playing partners, I've cared for Gary & Bev (the funeral director & wife as well as AWESOME friends), the kids, the grandkids  . . . . do you get the picture?  As each Friday arrives I “remember” what we were doing 2, 4, 8, 12 weeks ago, RIGHT now. Then, Saturday arrives and I re-run the moments of that day, leading up to “the accident”, to Rick’s going to HEAVEN through my mind.   And as I replay the moments . . .  I pray over all of those people that I “care for”.   I worry about how the homeowners are doing, how Kevin is doing, how the EMT’s/Policemen are doing, how the parents/siblings are doing, the co-workers, the friends  . . . Yes, I WORRY about them.  And then I wonder, are they remembering?  Do they remember?  Do they have nightmares (especially those “on-scene”)?  Do they know I love each of them?  Do they know that there was nothing they could do?  Honestly, I fully believe that at THAT MOMENT, Jesus called and Rick listened – he went HOME – with his eyes FULLY on his LORD!   Do they know that though?  Do they think they should have/could have done “more”?  I worry that maybe they don’t really know.  That they “blame” themselves.  That they think I “blame” them.   I want to “take care” of them!  I want to make sure they are o.k. too!  I want them to have the PEACE that the LORD has given me.  So, I find as the weeks march on, I have to try to stop “taking care” of everyone.  I have to give it over to the Lord and let HIM take care of them – because He does it so much better than I can!

.  . . Life goes on.  We move forward . . . time heals . . . slowly.  The sharp sting fades a little each day.  Days are filled with new joys and new experiences, wonderful memories (old and new) that fill my heart with smiles.  Days filled with a new sense of loneliness.  A loneliness that can’t really be explained – unless you have “been there”.  People do try.  I know they do.  But, really unless you’ve BEEN THERE you can’t know.  Divorce isn’t the same.  Never being married isn’t the same.  Losing a parent isn’t the same . . . . I’m not saying those situations are any less painful, they just aren’t “the same”.  As I said a couple of weeks ago {hi-jacked from another blog}, people don’t know “what to do with me”.   Society is not prepared to deal with 45 year old widows . . . it’s not in our realm of “normal”!   Sometimes at work as we joke around, someone will say something, about their spouse, or about the challenges of married life – a disagreement with a spouse, a mis-understanding, something funny that happened, and then they look at me like they shouldn’t have shared it – but it’s o.k., I KNOW they are still married – I’m glad they are still married . . . it’s o.k. – really – life DOES go on.  I do try to remind them to make their family a PRIORITY though.  All the hours you spend at work mean NOTHING in the end.  Those won’t be the moments that are cherished when they are all gone.  The time spent together is what cherished memories are made of!

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this tonight.  I don’t want to be “gloomy”.  God has given me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).   God has become more real to me than He ever was before!  God has shown to me that I have a few REALLY GOOD friends (you know who you are!), and that is enough!  God has shown me that when people fail me, HE never fails.  God has shown me that I can fully rely on Him for my EVERY need and He will suppy ALL my needs according to HIS RICHES in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME and ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD.  That is a cliché saying, yet, I believe it with every fiber of my being.  God does not act in a way to harm me.  He loves me immensely more than anyone else EVER has.  He has planned EVERY MOMENT of EVERY DAY of my life – from FIRST breath to LAST!  So even today as I feel lonely, GOD IS HERE.  He is with me.  He is asking me to BE STILL and KNOW.  To KNOW that HE IS.  And in the end, THAT is all I need to know – He will take care of the rest!

1/26/12

♥ b.l.e.s.s.i.n.g.s. ♥

"...It is possible to enjoy Me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances.  In fact, My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark.  That kind of trust is supernatural;  a production of My indweling Spirit.  When things seem all wrong, trust Me anyway."
...Jesus Calling

Today was another "normal" day.  I have nothing profound to say, except that GOD IS SO GOOD!  I had the blessing of my sister I never had {a.k.a. Donna Kay!} calling and telling me she was stopping to pick up lunch and coming to eat with me {baked potato soup from MUM's!}!  I had the blessing of a sweet message on Facebook from my new friend, Leah ♥ who I believe God very intentionally brought into my life!  I had another text from an out of town friend reminding me that she is praying for us daily ♥.  


Little blessings.  

Each of them put together to make a good day!  

God in human form!  

God's reminders that "when things seem all wrong, trust ME anyway".  I'm constantly reminded that I DID have a choice on November 5, and I honestly believe that I had to make that choice in an instant.  CHOOSE to believe/TRUST all I ever claimed to believe in, or CHOOSE to deny all of it.  I can't imagine how I would have survived the last {almost} three months if I'd chosen to deny.  Believing/Trusting has offered me a strength and a peace that cannot be explained in human terms.  It is TRUE that "that kind of trust is supernatural", "a production of HIS indwelling Spirit".

John 16:33 has come up so often since Rick's accident, that I think it will become one of my "life verses"!  It reads, "I have told you these things, so that in ME you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world"!

Yes, THIS is trouble.  Much bigger trouble than I ever thought I'd face at this point in my life.  I had many dreams of growing old with Rick.  I imagined our house full of the grown up kids and grand-kids.  I imagined someday taking our dream vacation to Alaska.  I imagined someday building our dream log home . . . I imagined so many things . . . and they all included me & Rick and many, many more years stretched ahead of us.  Yet, in God's wisdom, that was not meant to be.  So, though my dreams were shattered, my life and the kid's lives changed in that INSTANT, we continue to TRUST.  We do TAKE HEART.  We do have PEACE.  We don't pretend to understand.  We will always miss what "should have been".  We will stumble at times.  We will cry. But, we will also move forward.  We will love.  We will laugh.  We will cherish WONDERFUL memories.  We WILL take heart.  We KNOW the ONE who has overcome the world!  

We will look for BLESSINGS in every moment of every day! ♥

..."A faithful {woman} will abound with blessings."  Proverbs 28:20

1/25/12



I've mentioned before the image (word picture) I have of reaching out and holding HIS hand and how GOD leads me - ONE STEP AT A TIME . . . today's devo ended with "Hold My hand in childlike trust, and the way before you will open up step by step." 

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory."  Psalm 73:23-24

I really could end right there especially with the last part of that verse, "afterward you will take me into glory"!  What a promise to hang on to.  

In my reading in the past couple of months, I've come across the "thought" that with each day that passes I'm one day FROM the last time that I saw Rick, yet with each day that passes, I'm one day CLOSER to Heaven (and seeing Rick again) ♥ well, alrighty then, I can live with that.  Do I still miss Rick desperately?  Yes.  Do the "oddest" things make me lonesome for him?  Yes.  Do I still wonder "why"?  Yes.  But, again, in the midst of the missing, the loneliness, the wondering, I am assured that "afterward You will take me into glory", and that is where Rick already is, waiting for us!  Most recently, I read the thought of being one day closer to Heaven on my new friend Leah's blog (you can read it HERE!).  She ended that thought with "I long to be Home but not one day earlier than God calls me."  That is a PERFECT way to sum those thoughts up!  I LONG to be Home in Heaven, reunited with Rick, but that won't happen ONE DAY EARLIER than God calls me - not one day before He has planned for me.  And with that comfort is the comfort that all the days of all of our lives (Rick's included) are numbered by HIM, not by us.  So again, that peace that passes understanding is reinforced!

This is my temporary home
It's not where I belong
Windows and rooms that I'm passin' through
This was just a stop on the way to where I'm going
I'm not afraid because I know . . . this was my
TEMPORARY HOME!

With the thoughts of Heaven that were on my mind today, it wasn't surprising that while I was on the treadmill, watching American Idol, one of the contestants sang Carrie Underwood's song "Temporary Home". . .  this isn't where I BELONG, I'm just PASSIN' THROUGH, just a stop on the way to where I'm going.  I'm not afraid because I know . . . this IS my TEMPORARY HOME! ♥  When I think of how excited people are when they are moving to a new home, having theirs remodeled, or even carpeted and painted, HOW MUCH MORE excited should we be that we have something SO MUCH BETTER than any new home on earth waiting for us . . . our FOREVER, HEAVENLY home! ♥  But, (to quote an old hymn) . . . My heart can sing when I pause to remember, a heartache here is but a stepping stone, along a trail that's winding always upward, this troubled world is NOT my final home!  But, until then, my heart will go on singing, until then, with joy I'll carry on, until the day, my eyes behold that city, until the day God calls me home. ♥


1/24/12

....Spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials...adverse circumstances are normal in a fallen world...expect them each day...rejoice in the face of hardship, for I have overcome the world!

That was part of my devo this morning.  I love waking up and reading God's promises to ME!  And I like that it is plain as you read through the Bible that we WILL face trials here on earth.  But, we KNOW the one who has OVERCOME all!

Today was another good day.  It was back to school/work.  First day of the 3rd quarter/2nd semester.  So much to do, especially after a day off yesterday!  The day pretty much flew by.  Other than the usual busy-ness of work, it was a fairly "normal" day again.  Those are coming more often.  That is good!

I have nothing MAJOR to share, except that tonight, I'm SO THANKFUL for Rick's family!  His brothers & sister-in-laws have been so good to me! Last night I Facebook "chatted" with one of them, and on the way home from getting groceries tonight, another of them called me.  I have been blessed!  Thank you "Ryes" for loving me so much and taking care of me and the girls!  I LOVE YOU!! ♥

One other quick note - a PROUD MAMA note . . . though this blog is pretty much my thoughts and feelings, I KNOW that in all of this, the girls have also had to determine WHERE their faith is rooted....Taya is doing a 100 day picture challenge on Facebook.  One of her first pictures was of "my best friend" . . . and she had a picture of JESUS . . . today was a picture of "your most prized possession" and she had a picture of her BIBLE! ♥ Ah, yes, I'm so glad that in the midst of this, the biggest storm that could rock their lives, my girls, too, are clinging to the only ONE who will see them through! ♥  I know that I fail them - sometimes many times daily, though they are my world and I love them with all my heart ♥ I'm doing the best to be what they need, but know that they desperately miss their Daddy each and every day - just as I do - so it is hard to fill their voids when my own is so great.  I'm so thankful that they have been taught to lean on Jesus and are putting their faith in Him, not me!  Thank you LORD for your faithfulness to us!

...Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine Own Presence to cheer and to guide.  Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness, morning by morning, new mercies I see.  All I have needed, thy hand hath provided.  Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

1/23/12


I really like this quote . . . and knowing that it was as true on November 4 as it is today makes me like it even more!  Even then, I didn't have to fear the "tomorrow" with its life changing events, because GOD was already there.  He was already in my tomorrow.  He had already gone before ma.  He can and does see into the future, He knows what He is doing, and He doesn't make mistakes.   What a comfort that is to me.

This morning, my devo said:  My strength and power show themselves most effective in your weakness.  That has been so true, yet, it is sad too.  Sad that we don't recognize God's strength and power as much when things are good and rosy.  Sad that I didn't rely on HIM nearly as much on November 4 as I have since November 5.  I'm praying that I can always see His power and strength.  I am thankful though, that He is effective in my weakness!

Today was the first "snow" day (ice actually) of the year.  It was nice to just be home.  We really didn't do much at all - except for shovel slush!  I got a really nice facebook message reminding me that if I needed help, to just call and Jono and Austin (my cousin Robin & Kevin's sons) would be over to help us!  THAT was a sweet surprise - and another of those ways that we feel so LOVED!  We managed it ourselves (with Cody's & my parent's help) this time, but the offer was amazing and that reminder that people ARE still thinking of us!

This evening as I was reading through the chapter for next week's Sunday School lesson in our book "Growing Up Christian" I couldn't help but think of Rick!  The basis of the chapter we will be on was humbleness and humility.  Honestly, Rick had to exemplify those traits more than most people that I know!  It was a great reminder of yet ANOTHER reason why I loved him SO MUCH!  In his life and even in his death, I continue to learn from him!  From his gentle spirit, his unhurried way of living life, his quiet, accepting faith in all that God brought our way, his humbleness . . . all traits that pointed others to CHRIST, and traits that I strive to "live out" better :)!  He who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 9:14  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.  Psalms 25:9  

Another devo today, spoke of the fact that we are "Treasured" by God!  That is another amazing thought.  I can say that I felt treasured by Rick, I treasure my girls and the big kids.  I treasure the grandkids . . . but God treasures ME?  That is such an amazing thought.  But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's SPECIAL POSSESSION, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9  That's enough for me to "hang my hat on"!  To be His "special possession"!  Good stuff for this Monday! 

1/22/12

...NEVER ALONE! ♥


Today brought us another Sunday.  Another day that I got to “be” Rickey at church.  For the most part, that’s a good thing – it’s fun to greet the same people that Rick faithfully greeted every Sunday!  I LOVE to hear their memories of Rick being at that front door each week!  For being a “quiet” guy, he sure touched a lot of lives!

  My Aunt & Uncle brought us a “goodie” box of freezer foods – easy stuff for us to thaw and heat and/or eat when we want/need it – coffee cake, bread, home-made jam & applesauce, a pie, pasties . . . J  What a nice treat!  A really good family friend "greeted" and handed out bulletins with me.  He (again) pulled me aside, asking how I was doing and reminded me (again) to call if there is ANYTHING we need!  And, I promised him that I would.  He & his wife are so awesome - and they are just the people who I KNOW without a doubt would be here in a MINUTE if I called on them!  What a blessing friends like that are!  It goes beyond the surface "if you need anything" comment that is thrown out quickly and because it's the "thing" to say . . . they mean it, and I believe they mean it!

Taya & I ran to town quickly after church and came home with SLIPPERY roads to drive on.  Fortunately, those slippery roads resulted in a call telling us that there would be NO SCHOOL tomorrow!  Gotta LOVE a snow (ice) day – especially when you get advance warning, so the alarms for tomorrow morning can be shut off and we aren’t awaiting the early morning cancellation phone call.

Twice today, I found myself feeling the huge hole in my life without Rick (not that I don’t feel it every minute of every day – sometimes there are just reminders that trigger it even-more-so).  The first was while sitting in church.  As I looked around, I noted that most everyone in the church is a couple.  Not that I didn’t know that, it just kind of “hit” me.  Then during the sermon, I was again struck that I was sitting “alone”.  In a room full of people, sitting right next to my “favorite” child (that’s a JOKE – I was sitting by Tessa’s friend Cody whom we all refer to as my “favorite” – Rick even told one of my co-workers that Cody was my favorite!), I was still “alone”.   I MISSED Rick’s arm around me.  I MISSED scooting closer to his side.  I MISSED the place I always felt I “fit” so perfectly, that place I always felt safe, that place I always felt loved.  I MISSED ALL OF IT.  And I sat there ALONE.  When Taya and I were in town, there was a husband and wife shopping in Younkers.  She was looking for bargains (I imagined!), he was patiently standing off to the side, adding his opinion when she asked for it.  Later, I saw him, sitting outside of the fitting room again, patiently waiting for her.  Rick did that.  He was SO PATIENT with me shopping, with our three girls shopping.  He NEVER complained!  Friends always commented on how good it was of him to be so patient when shopping with us.  Once, as he sat PATIENTLY outside of Macy’s, people watching, he began to think that there must have been another entrance to the mall from the store and that we had exited the store that way, forgetting about him!  TWO hours later, we emerged from the only entrance to the mall, and found him, still sitting patiently, waiting for us, “his girls”!  So, today, I shopped “alone”, after sitting in church “alone”.  .  . all part of this “new normal” that I’m working daily to become accustomed to.

Thankfully, as I sat “alone”, as I shopped “alone”, I knew deep down, that I wasn’t really “alone”.  I’m NEVER alone.  I have my PRECIOUS girls.  I have dear friends.  I have wonderful family members.  I have JESUS!  My devotional this morning reminded me If you believe that I am sovereign over EVERY aspect of your life, it is possible to trust me in ALL situations . . . accept things exactly as they are – and search for My way in the midst of those circumstances.  Yes, I DO BELIEVE that He is sovereign over EVERY aspect of my life.  And I, again today, have chosen to TRUST HIM in all situations.  HE was not surprised that I was ALONE today.  He did not leave me there ALONE today.  He gently pulled me close to his side, underneath His everlasting arm.  Into a place that is even MORE loving, a place that I’m even MORE safe, and a place that I “fit” even better than I did by Rick’s side . . . THAT is an amazing COMFORT.  For I KNOW how loved, safe and comfortable I was next to Rick, so to know that God’s love and protection for me is EVEN GREATER is the comfort that again brings the “peace that passes understanding”!

On this journey, I’ve had the privilege to “meet” some new friends.  These are dear ladies who I’d have never met were I not on this journey.  I’ve “met” them because we are walking this journey called “widow-hood” together.  Miles may separate us.  Circumstances may be varied.  Our lifestyles may be different.  We may never meet in person this side of Heaven.  But, we are “knit” together by common threads.  We have said goodbye to our husbands much too early (in our minds).   We are “single” moms.  We love the Lord.  And through the wonderful tool called the internet, we have “met” each other.  Leah is one of those ladies.  You can read her blog and her story  HERE. TODAY, as I was feeling “alone”, God used Leah to reach out to me!  Leah sent me a Facebook message thanking me for the Birthday wishes I had sent her way (her Birthday was yesterday).  She also told me that I was the WINNER in the giveaway she had done on her blog!  I NEVER WIN ANYTHING!!!  And today, of all days . . . WOW – I serve a GREAT GOD!  His love and mercy NEVER cease to amaze me!  So, tonight, as I listen to the sounds of laughter down the hall from the girls and Cody, I am THANKFUL!  I’m thankful for the blessings that God has given me.  I thankful for all of the reminders that He sends JUST when I need them . . . I’m thankful that I can Trust in the Lord with ALL my heart and lean not unto my own understanding, in ALL my ways, I can acknowledge HIM and HE will make my paths straight!  Proverbs 3:5 & 6

1/21/12

(:    ♥    :)
Today was again a Saturday.
I am ready for bed and can say it was a GOOD day.
It was actually a VERY GOOD day!  The memories still come - in waves - but the waves aren't as big.  They don't threaten to take me under as easily.  I'm quicker to reach out to GOD and let HIM calm the storm that rages.
I am learning.  I am learning to lean on HIM for each moment.  And, HE gives peace!

He has blessed me so richly.  I have the greatest kids (and their friends) ever!  (o.k., I KNOW I'm biased, but really, they are great kids!)  I have enjoyed today just "being" with them, laughing and teasing and attending a concert.  Being silly and "normal" and living and laughing and loving . . . TOGETHER! ♥

This morning, my "Jesus Calling" devo contained these thoughts:

Your security rests in Me alone-not in other people, not in circumstances.  Depending only on Me may feel like walking on a tightrope, but there is a safety net underneath;  the everlasting arms.  So don't be afraid of falling.  Instead, look ahead to Me.  I am always before you, beckoning you on - one step at a time!

Ah, again, a reference to a word picture I already have in my mind - God going before me - but just ONE STEP, not so far that I have to chase him, just far enough to prepare the path . . . one step at a time!

Tonight, we went to the "God's Not Dead" tour with The Newsboys, City Harmonic, Abandon, Anthem Lights and Shaun Groves.  It was absolutely AMZAING!  At one point, the lead singer/speaker of The Newsboys said (and this is my paraphrase), there is a point in everyone's life where they KNOW there is a God or they turn away from the fact there is a God (he was referring to his journey when his sister died of AIDS).  And, I could totally relate to that statement.  I accepted Christ as my personal Savior when I was a little girl - I remember it CLEARLY.  I married Rick with God as the center of our marriage (we had a song played at our wedding that said, "It's not that I love you less than best, cuz each day I love you more, and more and more, but there can only be one first place in my heart, and you know who that's for, MY LORD, My Lord, Jesus is number One in my life, so second place will have to do for you, but I'm countin' on spendin' the rest of my life in love with the two of you!).  We had our girls dedicated to the Lord after they were born, we were all baptized, making a public declaration of our faith in Jesus Christ.  Yet, my life, up until 11 weeks ago was pretty "cushy".  I had not ever faced a "real" major crisis.  Life had been pretty predictable, smooth and easy.  We had survived some health scares with my dad's heart attack, and his mom and dad's battles with cancer - but even in those, we saw God's healing hand, and mercies in granting renewed health to our parents.  I often thought of how blessed we were.  How our families HAD been spared from "disease" and "tragedy".  And then November 5, 2011 came. . . . and at that point, that moment when I knew that Rick was no longer here with us on earth, I HAD TO MAKE A DECISION . . . either I believed everything I claimed to believe or I didn't.  One way or another.  It CAN'T be both.  If I believed that God had granted that healing to our parents, if I believed that God had given us ALL the blessings that we had been given, if I believed that God was the one who had made my life, to that point, fairly "easy", I had to also believe that the SAME GOD had allowed this into my life.  I had to either trust HIM or turn from HIM.  I'm so thankful I chose to TRUST!

It has not been an easy 11 weeks.  The next 11 weeks won't be easy.  We will always miss Rick.  I will always wonder why (I do believe there is a difference between "wondering" why and "demanding" an answer to the why).  I may NEVER know the why until I reach Heaven's gates myself, but until then, I MUST be a good steward of this road in life I've been asked to walk.  I must be faithful to the God whom I trust.  And, with HIS help, I will do just that!  I will continue to turn TO not FROM Him.  I will continue to Praise His name, not deny it.  I will continue to remember that  . . .  Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:39

My God's not dead
He's surely alive
He's living on the inside
Roaring like a lion!

Let Heaven roar 
And fire fall
Come shake the ground
With the sound of revival

My God's not dead
He's surely alive
He's living on the inside
Roaring like a lion!

-Newsboys-
God's Not Dead Tour - 2012

...marking time....

I've mentioned it before, yet, it's still true.  I find myself marking time in relationship to life before Rick's accident and life after.  That's probably normal, after all, isn't that where we get our modern system of tracking time?  Isn't that how we got here, to the year 2012 - 2000 + years since Christ lived on the earth?  So, I guess my manner of "counting" time isn't so very unusual after all!

Today it was the last day of the 2nd marking period at school. The end of the first semester.  Monumental for Taya as the last 2 days found her taking final exams for the first time in her high school career. Monumental for Tessa as with the end of this semester, she has only ONE semester left in her career as a high school student.  Monumental to me because the last day of the 1st marking period was November 4.  Otherwise known as the "day before".  The "day before" life as I knew it changed forever.  The "day before" I had to reach out and hang on to God with all that was in me.  It didn't really hit me until I was entering attendance at school this morning.  It was as I was realizing that Monday would start a new marking period (the 3rd of the year) that if I looked back, I know that the girls have a week and 1/2 of "E"'s (excused absences) filling in the days for the start of the 2nd marking period.  An "anniversary" of sorts.  The kind of "anniversary" that you don't want to have to mark.  An anniversary that I NEVER thought I'd be marking at 45 years young.  A day to remember. . . on the last day of the last marking period, November 4, Rick called and asked me to stop and get a new battery for his 4-wheeler so he could get it running for hunting season.  On that day, I ran to town after school and got pizzas - one for home and one for Rick to take to go play cards with "the guys".  Sometimes I got frustrated about doing things for "hunting".  Sometimes I got frustrated about how many times "the guys" played cards.  I remember that day that neither errand frustrated me.  I happily picked up the battery - laughing as the store clerk asked if I needed it carried to my car because it was heavy. The battery couldn't have weighed more than 10 pounds, I came home and asked Rick if I really looked that "frail" . . . not knowing how"strong" I would become in the coming days.  I was glad that the timing worked out so that I could get the pizza home before Rick was scheduled to go and play cards.  I was actually glad that he had good friends who he liked to spend time with.  I was glad that he never went out to bars with “the guys”.  Glad that the extent of any of his “nights out” consisted of playing cards with a few good friends – and then coming home to us!  Life was good.  So, today was a walk down memory lane.  A quiet observation (by me) of yet another day of "marking time".

But, guess what?  Today was an o.k. day, even as I "marked time"!  We had pizza for supper (from a different pizza place).  The girls all have friends over.  The house has been filled with the sound of laughter (one of the MOST beautiful sounds I have EVER heard!).  I paid some bills, did some laundry, walked on the treadmill & lifted weights (my New Year’s resolutions included seeking God more and taking care of myself better).  I "lived" life today.  Less worried about tomorrow than I used to be.  Knowing that GOD is already in my tomorrows!  Knowing that God WILL carry us through . . . if He brings us "to" it, He surely will bring us "through" it.

This morning, I read a couple of devos and 2 of them (one a"grief" daily e-mail and one from my "Jesus Calling" book) had the SAME verse . . . For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways declares the LORD.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9.  

I also read a blog post later in the day in which the blogger (a widow) shared how she questioned God for years after her husband's death, but has come to realize that it all REALLY is part of His plan.  It was good to read, but in reading, I realized that I have never done that (and I know there are stages and waves and degrees of grief - I could still go there . . .).  But, so far, I have not questioned God.  I have not been mad at God.  I have not been mad at Rick (for leaving us).  A few years back, our church went through some tough times.  During those times, questions were brought up about God’s “elect” and the “chosen”.  I am not a theologian.  Rick was not a theologian.  We (Rick and I) had many conversations about what WE believed.  What was important to us to “split hairs” over and what wasn’t. What we thought were “gray areas” and what was “non-negotiable” to us.  I’m not going to go into major detail here, and don’t want to cause any division.  One thing that Rick always stood firm on was that he KNEW he was a Christian.  He KNEW that would never change.  He KNEW that when he died, he was assured an eternal home with Jesus in Heaven.  He NEVER wavered in his belief that GOD WAS IN CONTROL.  That God had written the number of our days in HIS book before we were born.  That “when it was his time to go, it was his time to go” (whether he was on a roof, or on the couch watching football or the hunting channel).  I believe God put those conversations in our lives so that I would KNOW.  So that I would KNOW where my personal beliefs were rooted.  So I KNEW where Rick’s personal beliefs were rooted.  So I KNEW that GOD WAS IN CONTROL.  I may not LIKE what has happened (I’m only human!). I do and I will continue to grieve the loss of Rick in our lives here on earth (but even though he is no longer physically here, he will ALWAYS be with us -  we will carry him in our hearts forever!).  I will miss him at every single event that he “should” be at.  Yet, I will continue to trust that God IS sovereign. I will continue to believe that HE loves me more than Rick ever could have (and I KNOW that was A LOT – I never doubted Rick’s love for me – so then, how can I doubt God’s?).    

Last night, I mentioned being a "steward" of the lot God has given me in life.  That lot at this point is not what I imagined.  Not what I expected and surely not what I would have asked for.  However, God, in His INFINITE wisdom has "blessed" me with this lot.  With this title of "widow".  This job of being a single mom.  To honor HIM, I need to look at these new titles with a heart searching after Him.  With a heart desiring to be his SERVANT.  With a heart desiring to be a good steward of the time, the talents, the gifts and the "titles" (widow, single mom) that He has given me.

How will I do this?  How will I serve Him?  I'm not sure.  I'm not sure what HE is calling me to do.  But, I will do my best to listen to Him.  I will do my best to honor Him.  I will continue to thank Him for all He gives me each day.  I will continue to thank Him for the "key" people he has placed in my life (my "core four") who I can call upon - any time - day or night - happy or sad - pretty or ugly (and I don't mean physical beauty or ugliness here!).  I will  remember ...I know the plans I have for you . .. plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11!

1/19/12

:)



:) . . . that kind of sums up my day!  It was a stressful day . . . after a night of not sleeping very well and lots of questions about the Liberia trip, it still ended up to be a good day!  I read an awesome post HERE.  I'm exhausted after my lack of sleep last night, so you can just click on the "HERE" above and read it for yourself. The basic idea was that we have to be good stewards of what God has given us, and in the case of the blogger mentioned above, and myself, right now, that means being a good steward of being a widow . . . hhhmmm  VERY thought provoking!  And proof, YET AGAIN, that yes, EVERY SECOND, he LOVES me!

After reading the blog post on "stewardship", a sweet friend came in to work and was telling me about the word study she just did about being in the "valley" and she wanted to share some of it with me . . . and, trust me, it was GOOD STUFF!! :)  I plan to do some more study on my own and will report back here with what I discover!

Tonight, my internet is not co-operating and keeps cutting in and out, so I'm NOT going to post a long post and risk losing it! (that would be a BAD way to end what ended up being a GOOD day!)

Tomorrow is F.R.I.D.A.Y.!  :)  The girls are having friends come over for overnight tomorrow night and then on Saturday, we will all be going to the NEWSBOYS concert!  I'm pretty ready for a GOOD weekend!! :) 

Although God doesn't always give us understanding of our circumstances, He does promise peace in the midst of not understanding."  Philippians 4:6-7



1/18/12


I "stole" this from a friend's facebook page.  It is so true . . . daily I am becoming STRONGER - in the LORD!  I cannot believe that I can say I am still standing today - I'd NEVER have believed that I could have survived the loss of Rick if I'd been able to have a "crystal ball" to see into the future (and thank goodness I didn't).  At the end of each day, I'm amazed to see how the Lord has brought me through.  On my desk at work, I have a picture of my Mom, Kajsa, Taya and me at the first basketball game Kajzi cheered at - on November 16.  When I look at that picture, I REMEMBER how "raw" I felt that night.  I remember that I felt at "peace", but still so raw.  I remember sitting at the game, wondering how I was supposed to act.  Did people who didn't know me know?  Did it show that I was a "widow"?  I still have those moments of feeling raw.  I still have that feeling of peace that only comes from the Lord.  I still wonder if people "know".  But daily there is a bit of healing.  Each day the sweet memories are a little stronger and the painful memories are a little less.  God remains faithful, and yes, IN THE JOURNEY HE IS MAKING ME STRONG!

My "Jesus Calling" devo this morning said "I have lovingly planned every inch of the way.  Trust does not falter when the path becomes rocky and steep . . . hold tightly to MY hand.  Together, we can make it!"  I think it's so neat how I've related this journey to a winding dark path and this devo talks about a rocky, steep path.  I've also talked about reaching out-and that God is ALREADY there reaching down to me and it also talks about TAKING MY HAND....TOGETHER we can make it.  God is SO GOOD!

Last night, Tessa and I got new phones (and new numbers, so if you need my new number, be sure to let me know!).  I wanted to pick my number so I could pick a number that would remind me of Rick, like "13" his favorite number or "08" for August (the month he was born) or "18" for the day of his birthday (and mine!) or even "15" for the first day of hunting season.  They told me that I couldn't pick, and then she jotted down two numbers.  One of them was 2056.  I asked what the numbers were for, and she said they were the last four digits of our phone numbers.  :)  God even cares about silly little things like phone numbers . . . Rick was born in 19"56"!! :) 

So today, I am thankful for the little ways HE reminds me of his care . . . in phone numbers and devotionals that talk about things I have already related my journey to.  In the laughter of my girls in the other room.  In the healing that I can see taking place - slow and painful healing at times, but still healing.  In all these things and more, I AM thankful!

The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.  Habakkuk 3:19

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  2 Corinthians 4:17

Tonight, I'm going to end with a PRAYER REQUEST!  Taya is weighing (HEAVILY) whether or not God is calling her to go on a missions trip.  I mentioned it last night.  It is with our Church, this summer (August), to LIBERIA.  She is not feeling an overwhelming sense of peace either way on the trip.  She was supposed to give a FINAL answer tonight, but just couldn't.  Tomorrow, we will find out if there is any "wiggle room" in her decision or not.  This is huge for her.  This is huge for me.  As I said last night, I've learned that Wallace is no safer than Liberia - in that when God calls us home, we are going, no matter where we are.  But, as a mama, to "LET" her go someplace I consider dangerous is a huge leap of faith.  Please pray with us for God's will.  God's direction. And CLARITY! Thank you!


1/17/12

Well, then, tonight, this about says it all!

Prayer changes everything.  Not that it will bring Rick back - but prayer will change my outlook - it will bring me to the Lord and keep my focus on HIM, where it belongs!

Don't be ANXIOUS, Pray instead.  A reminder I need OFTEN . . . though, less lately (the anxious part I mean is less - not the prayer part)!  I have come to the full realization that I'M NOT in control (quite the realization for a "control freak") . . . to the point that when my girls are talking about going to LIBERIA on a mission's trip, I'm trying to be encouraging - asking them the pro's and con's - trying to look at it from God's point of view, not MOM's!!  Before Rick's accident, I had said to them (and to Rick), you (the girls) are NOT going, Liberia is dangerous - but then, we learned, so is a roof-top in Wallace, isn't it?

If God is for us, who can be against us? That means even DEATH cannot be "against" us . . . ultimately God is FOR us - meaning, we HAVE to trust in HIS plan, HIS story for our lives - even when we don't understand and even when it means the death of one of the people we LOVED the BEST!

and finally . . . 

HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT - that says it ALL - I can't add to it!

We got a card in the mail today from a very special family . . . it read: 

"YOU'RE IN MY THOUGHTS"
When it seems
like everything
in your world is changing,
you can always
find comfort
in the simple
everyday things
that have
always been, 
and will
always be...

...Like the love
and support
of people who care.
We'll always be here
for you.

Really, THOSE are the things that MAKE MY DAY! :)  A card from good friends, an e-mail from a (too) far away friend, reminding me that no matter the distance, they are there for me, the comment on my blog from my "new" friend - who "gets me" because she is walking this same road as I am.  All gifts from God through the kindness of friends! ♥

THIS IS THE DAY THAT THE LORD HAS MADE, LET US REJOICE AND BE GLAD IN IT.
Psalm 118:24


1/16/12

Monday . . . a new week (work/school week that is!).  And, today was a good day.  A fairly quiet day.  Work was BUSY, but uneventful.  In a school, uneventful is always good!  After school was a basketball game.  Taya cheered.  Tessa did stats.  I filmed the game.  We won.  J.V. and Varsity! :)  It was a good day!

At the basketball game I saw a friend I haven't seen in awhile.  She asked how we were doing.  She told me how our Christmas card has spoken to SO MANY people (she also works at our orthodontist's office - we sent them our card - if you missed it, you can see it and the message I enclosed HERE!).  My Pastor's wife, and good friend Bobbi, commented recently about how I responded in the hospital - that my first words to the girls were, "Daddy is in HEAVEN", when the Dr. and nurse expected me to be falling apart.  I WAS falling apart on the inside, and still do, many times a day, yet, I still fully know that the falling apart is for me, the kids, our friends, NOT for Rick.  He IS in HEAVEN, and the glories there cannot compare even to the BEST HUNTING TRIP EVER!!  Two reminders in recent days, that people WATCH.  They watch how we deal with what life hands to us.  They watch HOW we respond, WHO we turn to, WHERE our faith and trust is actually rooted - and I pray daily that my responses point others to GOD!

So, tonight, when I saw the quote above, it just felt like the appropriate thing to post . . . Yes, this sure feels like a MESS, but, I'm willing to let GOD turn it into HIS MESSage!  I hated tests in school and I really don't like this TEST, but, if my TESTimony can shine for Him, I'll do my best (with HIS help).  This is a TRIAL - one I never dreamed I'd have to walk through, but I will continue to TRUST that He can turn my trial and tragedy into a TRIUMPH!  I do often feel like a VICTIM of these circumstances, but, will daily choose to trust that He can turn this situation into a VICTORY!  So, as my friend and I talked, I was again able to share how AWESOME our God is (she is a Christian - so she understood!).  I was able to share how in a little over a months time our family was on the "giving end" of being a "donor family" and the "receiving end" with Rick's sister receiving a pancreas . . . how even for me, this was "healing" and just another proof of God's protection and love for each of us!

So, it's past bedtime on a Monday night.  I can again say God carried me (us) through another day.  I can rest in HIM tonight and again trust HIM for my tomorrow!  I'm thankful for the encouragement of friends.  I'm thankful that even in this tragedy, others are seeing the GREATNESS of the Lord.  I'm thankful that we CAN know where Rick is and THAT is WHY we can go on from day to day without him.  We KNOW that one day we will be reunited and it will be GLORIOUS!  ♥