3/30/12

the BEST things in life!

Looking FORWARD to LOTS of the above in the next 10 days! :)

Though there will ALWAYS be an empty spot during our vacation, that spot where Rick should be, we WILL take the time to ENJOY those best things in life that ARE free!  We have learned all too quickly how it can change in the blink of an eye and nothing is ever the same . . . so, I will post as I can, but if I don't, please trust that I'm enjoying lots of hugs, smiles, friends, kisses (well maybe not so many of those!!), family, SLEEP, love, laughter and NEW, GOOD memories - thanks to my AWESOME brother-in-law & sister-in-law, Tim & Rochet !!  The NEW memories will never replace the OLD ones, yet, they will color some sunshine into our lives, reminding us, once again that we CAN and we WILL move forward - by God's grace!

Thank you to everyone who is and has been praying for us . . . as we embark on this first BIG JOURNEY without Rick by our sides, I can FEEL the support that we have received over the past {almost} 5 months from GOD, our family and our friends. 

I'm also reminded as I try to focus on getting done what needs to be done to leave on vacation how EXCITED I am feeling . . . and how that excitement PALES in comparison to the EXCITEMENT that I have when I long for my Heavenly home! :)  

For the loving faces that await us, the beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures, the boats whose holes are plugged with bubble gum (private joke for Tim!), the love, the laughter and the memories awaiting us in GEORGIA are NOTHING compared to what GOD has in store for us in Heaven  . . .  the GLORIES that Rick is already experiencing!!

So, this "vacation preparation" is nothing like I've ever done before!  Me, who IS the "independent one" still hasn't ever done this much "on my own" . . . but, I'm not alone, no never alone, for GOD is always by my side, the 3 treasures that He blessed us with are also by my side and Rick's LOVE will always be in my heart ♥ As we spread our wings and "fly" tomorrow, God will be with us, as will Rick's love and encouragement, that will never leave . . . and until that glorious day when we meet again in Heaven and Rick is waiting there to greet us, we will move FORWARD, living, loving, laughing and enjoying ALL the blessings that God bestows on us each and every day! ♥

THIS  ^^ is what we woke up to this morning!!  


THIS ^^ is the 5-day forecast for Tim & Rochet's house and the Lake House!!  Aaaahhhhhhh! :)
Yep, I'm excited! 



3/29/12

...there is a time!


"A life lived close to Me is not complicated or cluttered . . . when your focus is on My Presence, many things that once troubled  you lose their power over you . . . though the world around you is messy and confusing, remember that I have overcome the world . . . I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace!"  ~ Jesus Calling

My life sure has not seemed "un"complicated or "un"cluttered as of late, but the past week has been a start.  Though I feel like a week has FLOWN by, I can feel that I am much more "un"cluttered (at least in my mind) than I have been.  I still have "to-do" lists that are a MILE long, but I'm learning to be happy to cross off one or two items - if they aren't all crossed off, the end of the day still comes, and that's o.k.!  So, tonight, there are dishes in the sink, laundry in the hallway, clutter on the bathroom counter, and half packed bags spread all around . . . but, my dad had a good appointment with his eye Doctor today, we had a fun time taking him there, there was LOTS of LAUGHTER in our house, I got to get in a 3.6 mile run/walk on the treadmill, Colton Dixon (who has un-ashamedly shared his faith in Christ) is still on American Idol (which I watched while ON the treadmill!), there are now three peacefully sleeping girls in the house who are excited about their LAST day of school tomorrow before Spring Break and our trip to visit one of their FAVORITE Uncles (and Aunt & cousin too!) . . . so, I'm learning . . . slowly, but, I'm learning . . . learning to make important what is important and let what is un-important stay that way!  I want my life to be less complicated and less cluttered.  I want my focus to be on HIS Presence, I want to be less "troubled" - so that those troubles don't have power over me!

Yes, this world (and sometimes my house, my garage, my yard, my car and my desk at work) is messy.  Yes, the world around me is confusing (my human mind can't wrap itself around WHY Rick had to die), BUT, I do hold on to the hope that HE has overcome the world!  HE has told me these things so that I may have PEACE!

Today, I had ANOTHER reminder of how LOVED I am!  My cell phone rang and the call was a number that was not programmed in my phone and not one that I recognized . . . upon answering the call, it was someone from my church who I "know" but we've not had the chance to become "close".  She said she just had a burden for me today, was I o.k.?  I told her that I was, but was concerned about my Dad's eye Dr. appointment which he was at RIGHT AT THAT time . . . could she please pray for him as well?  She promised to as well as continuing to pray for me and we chatted for a few more minutes before we hung up and I stored her name with her number in my phone . . . so I could text her to let her know that Dad's appointment HAD gone well!  On a day that really was a "good" day, I was again given a reminder that even if I don't always know it and sometimes don't "feel" it . . . people DO care and are loving us by doing the BEST thing they can do, they are praying!   . . . And this is something that I have learned - if you are praying for someone - for WHATEVER reason, LET THEM KNOW!!  You may NEVER know how much of a blessing it will be to them to KNOW they are being upheld in prayer!  Even if it doesn't' seem like a "big deal" to you, it may be just the thing they need to hear!

The devotional that I referenced above ended with Ecclesiastes 3:1, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven" . . . which leads into verse 2 . . . "a time to be born and a time to die" . . . another reminder that GOD IS in control, and there is a time for everything . . . even when that "everything" rocks my world and makes it feel "messy and confusing", THERE IS A SEASON FOR EVERY ACTIVITY UNDER HEAVEN!  And, HE is in control of it, I'm not!


"A life lived close to Me is not complicated or cluttered . . . when your focus is on My Presence, many things that once troubled  you lose their power over you . . . though the world around you is messy and confusing, remember that I have overcome the world . . . I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have Peace!"  ~ Jesus Calling

My life sure has not seemed "un"complicated or "un"cluttered as of late, but the past week has been a start.  Though I feel like a week has FLOWN by, I can feel that I am much more "un"cluttered (at least in my mine) than I have been.  I still have "to-do" lists that are a MILE long, but I'm learning to be happy to cross off one or two items - if they aren't all crossed off, the end of the day still comes, and that's o.k.!  So, tonight, there are dishes in the sink, laundry in the hallway, clutter on the bathroom counter, and half packed bags spread all around . . . but, my dad had a good appointment with his eye Doctor today, we had a fun time taking him there, there was LOTS of LAUGHTER in our house, I got to get in a 3.6 mile run/walk on the treadmill, Colton Dixon (who has un-ashamedly shared his faith in Christ) is still on American Idol (which I watched while ON the treadmill!), there are now three peacefully sleeping girls in the house who are excited about their LAST day of school tomorrow before Spring Break and our trip to visit one of their FAVORITE Uncles (and Aunt & cousin too!) . . . so, I'm learning . . . slowly, but, I'm learning . . . learning to make important what is important and let what is un-important stay that way!  I want my life to be less complicated and less cluttered.  I want my focus to be on HIS Presence, I want to be less "troubled" - so that those troubles don't have power over me!

Yes, this world (and sometimes my house, my garage, my yard, my car and my desk at work) is messy.  Yes, the world around me is confusing (my human mind can't wrap itself around WHY Rick had to die), BUT, I do hold on to the hope that HE has overcome the world!  HE has told me these things so that I may have PEACE!

Today, I had ANOTHER reminder of how LOVED I am!  My cell phone rang and the call was a number that was not programmed in my phone and not one that I recognized . . . upon answering the call, it was someone from my church who I "know" but we've not had the chance to become "close".  She said she just had a burden for me today, was I o.k.?  I told her that I was, but was concerned about my Dad's eye Dr. appointment which he was at RIGHT AT THAT time . . . could she please pray for him as well?  She promised to as well as continuing to pray for me and we chatted for a few more minutes before we hung up and I stored her name with her number in my phone . . . so I could text her to let her know that Dad's appointment HAD gone well!  On a day that really was a "good" day, I was again given a reminder that even if I don't always know it and sometimes don't "feel" it . . . people DO care and are loving us by doing the BEST thing they can do, they are praying!   . . . And this is something that I have learned - if you are praying for someone - for WHATEVER reason, LET THEM KNOW!!  You may NEVER know how much of a blessing it will be to them to KNOW they are being upheld in prayer!  Even if it doesn't' seem like a "big deal" to you, it may be just the thing they need to hear!


3/28/12

... for I know ... ♥


I know that I've OFTEN mentioned that Psalm 139 is one of my FAVORITE passages - going back to discussing it around a campfire with friends when I was in High School!  Another favorite passage, however has been Jeremiah 29:11 . . .

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares, the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Today, as I was reading LOVING (the final book in Karen Kingsbury's Bailey Flanigan series), this verse was mentioned, reminding me of my love for it.  

Then, I was reading an e-mail devo that I receive, and this verse was AGAIN referenced!  I don't believe that it is coincidence that God puts things in my path when He does! :)

The first part of that verse is SO COMFORTING - it is WHAT has been my hope . . . HE KNOWS the plans that He has for me!  That is an amazing thought.  It is again that reminder that HE is ALREADY in our tomorrows.  NOTHING that comes our way is s SURPRISE to Him.  He is NEVER taken off-guard and is NEVER surprised.  NO MATTER if what we experience is good OR bad in our eyes - it is ALL KNOWN to Him before it ever touches our lives . . . FOR I KNOW THE PLANS THAT I HAVE FOR YOU!

Yesterday, as I was relishing the "time" that I have been given to just try and "catch my breath" a little, I read a devotional from Proverbs 31 entitled "When Time Keeps Slipping Away" . . . Well, wasn't THAT an appropriate title when I'm attempting to regain some sense of BALANCE in my life (that combined with the fact that I'm doing a Bible Study called "Living a Life of Balance"  . . . do you think HE is trying to tell me SOMETHING?!).  Anyway, back to the Proverbs 31 devotional, they always end with a prayer, and the one for yesterday read:

"Dear Lord, only You know how many breaths I have.  Please help me to use my time wisely and invest it in the people and things that matter most.  Help me consciously plan time for myself, my family and my faith.  In Jesus' Name, Amen."

(you can read the entire devotional by clicking HERE)!

"only YOU know how many breaths I have" . . . well I certainly know THAT to be a fact . . . ONLY GOD knows the number of our days, and He has since I (we) was knit together in my mother's womb (Psalm 139).    Help me to use my time wisely and INVEST it in the people and things that matter MOST.

Yes, my job IS important.  Providing for my family IS important (especially now that I'm the only one doing it)!  There are LOTS of things that ARE important.  Yet, what is MOST important.  Do I (have I been) using my time wisely?  Do I invest it in what MATTERS MOST?  Help me to CONSCIOUSLY plan . . . when I'm running 100 miles an hour and not keeping up with anything, I'm not consciously planning anything - I don't even plan what we will EAT for goodness sakes!  I LOVE the thought that GOD knows the plans that He has for me!  I did also appreciate the reminder that I MUST be CONSCIOUS about taking the time for my God, my girls and yes, even for ME.  As a wife and mom, it's easy to not take the time I need for "me".  Yesterday, I was asked what I do for "me".  I was glad taht I COULD answer that I've begun to exercise, that daily I have "alone" time on a walk/run or bike ride!  It has become important to me mentally as well as physically!  I'm learning (very slowly) to BE STILL . . . that is a HARD one for me (and as crazy as it may sound, sometimes my "stillness" comes during a run/walk/bike ride - when it's just God and me and HE has my full attention)!  My "most important" right now in life (besides God) is my family.  The 3 girls who God gifted me and Rick with.  The 3 girls He and Rick have entrusted me with!  Yes, they are, and they NEED to be what "matters most"!   I am very thankful that while I'm doing the "parent" thing "alone" with Rick now in Heaven that I'm not really doing it alone!  I have "help" from Grammas & Papas, Aunts & Uncles, Church family & friends and Big Brother & Big Sister (& their spouses!).  Most importantly, I have GOD helping me, and HE KNOWS THE PLANS HE HAS FOR US!  I can REST in that, and I can trust that HE will help me to use my time wisely and to INVEST it where it MATTERS MOST!

I don't think it is any coincidence that THIS is one of the poses that Tessa chose when she had her Senior pictures taken this past summer, just 2 & 1/2 short months before her Daddy was called Home to Jesus.  As I paid the initial deposit today to hold her "spot" for college in the fall, I was reminded AGAIN that God has a plan for HER future . . . plans to give her HOPE and a FUTURE!  I'm excited to see where HE takes her!


3/27/12

Good thoughts!

Aahhhh! I am finding that having time to just enjoy my girls in the evening is one of the most wonderful gifts I have received in a long time!

So,with that thought in mind, I saw this "poem" (?) today and it's perfect! I find I am often repeating 2 thoughts, people don't "get" it and I miss being Rick's "priority". This says it well!

3/26/12

HIS grace is sufficient for ME! ♥


I have internet again!

We are all happy about that!

With all of us using the internet all the time, you don't know how you miss it until it's gone!! I had SO MANY e-mails to look through it was CRAZY!! :)

And, I'm tired, even though I did pretty much NOTHING today!  Except for mark out the route for the 5K Fun Run/Walk our church is sponsoring to raise money for the church's mission's trip to LIBERIA this summer . . . and then I ran the route, just to check it out - and it was cold (38 degrees) and WINDY and there are 2 nice sized hills on the route - which means you go UP them FOUR times!!  

Anyway, a sweet new friend of mine sent me a Facebook message which included the verse above as well as this quote:

"Unshakable faith comes from having your faith shaken"!

I think that and the verse above area AMAZING!!  And a "sermon" on their own for tonight.  Another proof that God IS good!

Yes, God is GOOD! ♥ 

3/24/12

Amazing Devotional!

Well, when we left home, our Internet was out, so in case I can't get on later, I'll just go with this for now!

It's a Saturday, 2nd adult I saw today was the trooper who came to my house "that day"....I've seen EIGHT red trucks today, 5 of them Fords and 2 of them right at the end of our road...yep, it's a Saturday!

Yet, we just finished up a nice lunch at Applebee's courtesy of gift cards we received! We are laughing and having fun! Tessa is having a good time in Grand Rapids! We leave for vacation in a week! There are silver linings, sometimes we just have to be intentional about looking for them!!!

3/23/12

grief is a strange thing!


I hope the above is true of me . . . I pray I CAN learn these lessons through this "grief process" . . . 

But, I'm still going through it . . . and it stinks!

This week was a tough week, and I "heard" some comments about "where I am" that didn't set well with me.  To be TOTALLY honest, my struggles lately have been more with "people" - people who not only don't "get it", but who seem not to care about HOW DEEP a loss like we've gone through cuts.  About how it affects EVERY SINGLE aspect of EVERY SINGLE moment of EVERY SINGLE day.  And I'm sorry, but unless you have experienced it, PLEASE don't compare the death of a Daddy/husband to ANYTHING that life is throwing at you (unless it is the loss of a loved one yourself) - there is not a comparison!  (Remember, I warned at the beginning of my blogging that some times it wouldn't be "pretty")!

Today, I found this quote though, and it helped put things into perspective JUST A LITTLE BIT . . . 

Grief is a solitary journey.  No one but you knows how great the hurt is.  No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life when someone you love has died.  And no one but you can mourn the silence that was once filled with laughter and song.  It is the nature of love and death to touch every person in a totally unique way. ~ Author Unknown

So, when I'm told that someone "knows" that I'm "overwhelmed and frustrated", I have to just realize that they CAN'T "get it" . . . 

But, just a "hint" . . . 
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is when my checkbook doesn't balance!
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is when I forget the water running in the kitchen sink and it overflows onto the counter and floor!
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is when I forget to put gas in the car and worry that I might not make it to the gas station with the amount I have left!
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is when I have deadlines at work that are past due and I'm not sure how and when I can catch up!
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is when I can't find the snow shovels and a snow storm is predicted - or the battery for the lawnmower and the grass is going to start to grow - but thanks to my Dad, that one was solved!
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is when I realize that I'm not doing all I should for my precious girls because I'm overwhelmed and frustrated!
  • Overwhelmed and frustrated is even when the hospital kept sending bills that I KNEW the insurance was supposed to pay - and that would have been paid if they were sent to the right insurance company and coded properly! (and these issues WERE fixed by a WONDERFUL billing clerk at the hospital!)
Though "GRIEF" may be Overwhelming and Frustrating . . . it is SO MUCH more than that . . . and fortunately, most people don't have to experience it in this way at this age.  But, I do.  My girls do.  And it is SO MUCH more than Overwhelming and Frustrating . . . so please, try to be patient . . . we're doin' it, day by day, but there is no right or wrong way.  It hits in waves and at the strangest times.  Some days it is "almost" invisible and some days it is the elephant in the room.  I'm hoping that in reading here - even on the nights it's not "pretty", you can learn along with me.  That if you are reading here, you want to journey WITH me/us, and that through some of what I share, pretty or not, you AND I can learn to LOVE people better, and be there for others when they need us!

My first day "off" of work was a good day overall!  I didn't get a THING done in the house that I thought I would, instead I just "vegged" . . . did some pretty mindless Facebook surfing, did a little bit of laundry and took a 13.2 mile bike ride (that's a 1/2 marathon bike ride!).  So, it was a good day - a day where I let the "pressures" of what "needed" to be done just "be" . . . the house is a wreck, the sink is full of dishes as is the dishwasher, there are piles of laundry and goodwill piles all over my bedroom floor along with the beginnings of my packing for next week, but, it's o.k.!  I took the day to just "be" and it was good!  I listened to some AWESOME Christian music on my bike ride, I read some blogs and such on grieving - from people who have gone/are going through it.  God was GOOD - as always!  So again tomorrow, as today, and all the days before, I will continue to CHOOSE to trust in His goodness . . . because He cares for me!

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

2 Chronicles 15:7 - As for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded!


3/22/12

growing strong . . . in the broken places


... I liked this ...
because, yes, I have been BROKEN.
And it's a "broken-ness" that can't be explained, or understood unless you've been through it.  Yet, there are those who have, and they do understand.  Today I was blessed to have a conversation with someone who did understand!  It was really refreshing and something that I really needed today - after the decision was made for me to take some time off of work - it was good to be reassured that it was not only o.k., but a GOOD thing to do!

I am also beginning to "grow strong".  In ways I haven't been before.  I'm growing STRONG in my faith - and my ability to share it with others without fear of rejection.  I WANT to tell people how GREAT my God is.  That even in my broken-ness, He meets me - right where I am!  I'm growing STRONG in speaking my mind (hopefully in a loving, honest way).  I'm growing STRONG in realizing that I can't "do it all" and that sometimes I need to just "be still".  I'm growing STRONG by taking care of myself . . . first by eating well and exercising, and most recently by realizing that I needed a BREAK!  I didn't realize how stressed I was at work until I realized tonight how "un" stressed I was knowing I'm off tomorrow, and next week!  I'm thankful that God led me to realize that I needed a break BEFORE I crashed - before all the plates stopped spinning!  And I'm thankful to the people who agreed with me that a break was not a sign of weakness, but a good thing.  A thing that will help me to continue moving along "grief-road" and the path to healing and restoration - no, things will NEVER be the same again, yet I WILL continue to CHOOSE to trust that I am on the path that GOD has chosen for me and that because of that He will bring healing, and He will restore.  My world, my life, our family will NEVER be restored to what it was, yet, He does have plans for us, "Plans to prosper and not to harm".  I WILL continue to CHOOSE to trust in that promise!

I am still told by people how "strong" I am.  I still answer, it's NOT me, it's my God!  For, I have been broken, but it is through HIS strength that I HAVE found the courage I need - the courage to face each new day, the courage to be a single mom, the courage to stand up and say "I need a break", the courage to begin again - to "grow strong" - even in the weak places . . . through HIS grace and mercies that He constantly bestows on me!

Rejoice and be thankful!  As you walk with Me through this day, practice trusting and thanking Me all along the way . . . thankfulness lifts you up above your circumstances . . .  ~ Jesus Calling

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again:  Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4

"Those who know Your Name will trust in You, for You, LORD have never forsaken those who seek you!"  Psalm 9:10

3/21/12

spinning plates & wearing masks . . .


I'm really good at "spinning plates" . . . 
Most recently, I've been "spinning" . . . 
  • the "mom" plate
  • the "I can't be Daddy, but will try to be all you need from me" plate
  • the "friend" plate
  • the "good church girl" plate
  • the "co-worker" plate
  • the "employee" plate
  • the "exercise" plate
  • the "house cleaner/laundress/homeowner" plate
  • the "household banker" plate
  • the "graduation party planner" plate
  • the "vacation planner" plate
  • the "I'm trying to hold it all together" plate
  • the "I can't "give up" anything" plate
  •  . . . . . . . . 
O.K., I THINK you get the idea here!  I WAS (am) spinning TOO MANY plates.  And when you spin TOO MANY plates, the plates start DROPPING!  If I've learned ANYTHING in the past 4 + months, it is that my FAMILY must come first . . . and if I don't take care of "me", there is no "me" left to take care of my family!

That being said, I'm also pretty good at wearing . . . 


MASKS!!!!

My "masks" make it look like I'm doing a REALLY GOOD job at "spinning" all of those plates!  

But, there-in lies the problem.  The mask only HIDES what's going on inside, and the plates start to fall!

That is what has happened recently for me!

Nothing MAJOR happened (well, besides the OBVIOUS!).  I didn't have any major melt-downs (well, o.k. one, small-ish one!).  I'm sleeping well at night.  I am "doing" everything that "needs" to be done . . . 

. . . But . . . 

 I'm getting TIRED!

I didn't take much time off of work after Rick died.  Actually, I only missed five actual work days following his accident.  And, for anyone who has been through it, you KNOW what those days are like - filled to the brim with details and one foot in front of the other things that "must" be done.  Because of scheduled time off of school, weekends and hunting season, I missed 5 work days and returned to work 11 days after Rick died.  It was good at the time.  The day we went back to school and work (November 16) Kajsa cheered in her first basketball game.


This is her with one of her best friends Sarah that night - I'm so happy that her Daddy knew that she had made the cheer squad (and actually made the 8th grade squad as a 7th grader) before his accident - he was SO PROUD of her!

I still remember how I felt that night though.  I remember sitting in the stands wondering "how" I was supposed to act.  Did people who didn't know me "know"? Was it obvious that I was a "widow".  Crazy thoughts, I know, but I remember clearly thinking them!  Despite "those" thoughts though, getting back to our "normal routine" was a good thing.  "Normal" felt good.  It felt familiar.  It was something I "knew" in a world I didn't know anymore!

Anyway, now that some time has passed, some things have gotten "easier", some things have begun to feel more "normal", but I realized that my plates were starting to spin out of control.  I realized that I can't go 110 miles an hour day after day and still survive - or be the Mama that my girls need.

A few situations came up that made this abundantly clear to me.  Most of these situations are more private than I want to share here, but they ultimately led me to call my Doctor (who is also Sarah from ^ above)'s mom and a GREAT friend (she spent most of November 5 in the hospital with us).  She told me that she was actually expecting me to call.  She assured me that "crashing" is a normal stage of grief and that I'm not "going crazy" and there is nothing wrong with stepping back a little.

So, tonight, I'm going to bed feeling COMPLETE PEACE.  I'm feeling that GOD (again) has had HIS hand in every single tiny little detail of my days.  I'm feeling at peace that my sweet Doctor suggested that I take some time for "Sheila".  So I can be the Mama that I need to be.  The friend I need to be.  The employee that I need to be.  The co-worker that I need to be . . . 

. . . Starting Friday, I'll be taking a little time off to "re-discover" who this "new" Sheila is.  I'll be off of work through when we go on Spring Break.  It feels kind of like I'm being selfish.  I've been a mom for 18 years (almost) . . . I don't often put "me" first (or even 2nd or 3rd!).  But, you know what?  I'm RELIEVED!  Rather than going into our vacation FRAZZLED, I'm praying that I can actually go into vacation relaxed.  Relaxed so I can fully enjoy my beautiful girls.  Relaxed so we can have a good time.  Relaxed so we can enjoy our time together, making new memories and remembering old ones with fondness!  My sister-in-law told me yesterday that she got us tickets to go to an amazing event on Good Friday night.  One of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE Christian speakers is Louie Giglio and he will be there, along with Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Christy Nockels and Kristian Stanfill . . . What an amazing way to spend Good Friday evening!

I KNOW that the "timing" is not good for work, however, I HAVE learned that no job, no commitments outside of God and my family should come before God and family!  I have learned to treasure what is IMPORTANT to me, and that, in the end, my job CANNOT be more important than God and Family!  Because of this, HE has given me peace.  I feel HIS hand in everything and I'm anxious to see what HE teaches me during this brief "time" off.  I'm praying that I will be able to "be still and know" during this time!  To let HIM speak to my wounded heart and further the work of healing that He has begun in me!  I know that some people will not understand.  I'm beginning to realize that my journey IS mine to walk and I CANNOT expect others to "understand" it if they have not walked it themselves (and there aren't too many that have - MOST people don't lose their spouse when they are just 44 years old).

Trust Me and don't be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song . . . think what it means to have Me as your Strength . . . I spoke the universe into existence . . . My Power is absolutely unlimited!  Rejoice as we journey together toward Heaven!  ~ Jesus Calling

"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation"  Isaiah 12:2

3/20/12

showers of BLESSINGS . . .


"I shower blessings on you daily, but sometimes you don't perceive them . . . when  your mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me nor My gifts . . . "  Jesus Calling

That's me the last couple of days, I've been stuck on a negative focus and not seeing ALL the blessings that HE is showering on me!

I've been mad.  I've felt betrayed.  I've been confused.  

But God.

But, God has been there.  But God, has been patiently waiting for me to look to Him to ask Him to take my anger away.  But God is waiting for me to realize that all human beings will fail and/or betray me at some point in life.  But God is waiting for me to turn my confusion over to HIM.  So that I CAN perceive all of the BLESSINGS that he LONGS to pour out on me.  But God wants me to CLOSE the umbrella that I have put up, stopping those blessings from pouring out on me!

Another time to CHOOSE.  To CHOOSE if I'm going to base my feelings on man who WILL fail me, or on THE MAN, Jesus Christ who will NEVER fail me.

O.K., God, I get it!  I'm closing the umbrella!  I know that I'll still be disappointed, betrayed, angered, confused, . . . but God, help me to look up and await Your blessings.  So that I can "clear the blockage and find YOU!"  (Jesus Calling) 

"Now the LORD is the SPIRIT and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."  2 Corinthians 3:17

I did manage to get in a a 5 mile bike ride yesterday and a total run of 4.2 miles running tonight (1.6, a 15 minute break) and another 2.6 home (the "long" way!)

Well, Taya is taking Driver's Ed - it runs from 6:00 - 8:00 a.m. . . . LONG days for her and me . . . I have work to catch up on (sometimes I'm a little OVERWHELMED with everything that I have to "do", between work and home life!) so I've been just going in early with her!  Tessa leaves for Grand Rapids on Thursday morning for BPA competitions . . . They are growing up WAY TOO FAST, but I'm loving every minute of seeing the young women God is shaping them into and I'm excited to see WHAT HE has in store for them! ♥

3/19/12

...a faithful friend! ♥


Not feeling "fluffy" or wordy tonight (odd for me, I know!).  Actually kind of drained . . . long afternoon and evening . . . it will all be o.k.  God IS in CONTROL and NOTHING in my day comes as a surprise to Him even if it takes me off guard!

Tonight, I am THANKFUL beyond words for GOOD FRIENDS.  Good, Godly friends.  The ones who are THERE, NO MATTER WHAT! :) 

"A faithful friend is a strong defense:  and he that hath found one hath found a TREASURE."  Ecclesiastes 6:14

I'm thankful for the TREASURES that HE has put in my life! ♥

YOU know who you are and I LOVE YOU! ♥

3/18/12

i am HIS PRINCESS ♥

I think I've mentioned before, and events and a conversation yesterday reminded me of my answer to the question, "What do you miss the most"?

My answer was, and is, "I miss being somebody's "priority".  I miss being the most important person in someone's life.  I could say, I miss being someone's princess".  I know that as time goes on, and day by day, my answer could and probably will change, but this is my answer right now as I struggle to learn to be "alone" - even when I'm in a crowd!

So, because I felt that "alone-ness" yesterday, because I had that conversation yesterday, because I day-dreamed about Rick yesterday and dreamed about him last night, I woke up with that empty feeling.

I went on Facebook to wish my best friend, Donna's daughter a Happy Birthday, and found a post by one of her friends (Kristi turned 19, so I'm assuming the author of the post is around that age, I don't know her).

In her post, she shared about a book that she is reading, and how she is listening to God through it.   I looked up the book on Amazon.com and it's called "Cativating - Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul" by John Eldridge.  It is a book I must buy for my iPad!

This beautiful young lady, Jordan, whom I've never met was used to speak to me this morning!  I'm not looking for a "boyfriend" like she might be, but, I'm still feeling the emptiness of no longer being somebody's priority, their princess . . . Rick's princess!

In Jordan's own words (with the parts that spoke to me included here): "I want to be a princess, I want to be pursued, I want to be someone's everything . . . Jesus is the only boyfriend (that's Her word - mine would be Jesus is the only ONE . . . For as much as he may have loved me, even RICK couldn't completely fulfill that longing in my heart!) who's going to fill my gap . . . to Him, I am a princess . . . He pursues me every single second of the day! . . . I am HIS everything . . . He's never going to let me go . . . the  GREATEST MAN out there already calls me HIS!"  The Bible says to have faith like a child - to me that includes anyone young enough for me to have given birth to - even a 19-ish year old, who I don't even know!  

Though we all lost SO MUCH on November 5, God still wants to gently remind me that I'm NOT alone.  HE has always and will always consider me His PRIORITY!  In the conversation I had yesterday, we DID go down that "road"  as we talked . . . That God loves me more than Rick, HE is ALWAYS there for me, He dose make me His PRIORITY . . .  however, there MUST be more than "lip service" given to this thought.  Because though in my mind I "know" that the statements are true, the knowing and the real life can often be very different things.  Though I KNOW that He pursues me, though I KNOW that I AM His priority, though I know that I am His "princess", it's STILL not the same!  That knowledge of "knowing" how much HE loves me can't be on the other end of the phone when I just NEED to hear Rick's voice.  That "knowledge" can't take me out to dinner at the Landing (as I was driving to the funeral home yesterday, I thought to myself "I'm all dressed up in the middle of the day on a Saturday, I sure wish Rick & I were headed out to a nice dinner at the Landing after the funeral home").  That "knowledge" isn't PHYSICALLY there at the finish line . . . "knowing" that God can be and is all those things to me and so much more, has to follow my heart knowing it and trusting it as well.  And sometimes, THAT is where the "rubber meets the road"  That is where it is hard . . . it is hard because even though I know that Rick is in a FAR BETTER place, and even though  I know that God alone can fill every single empty place in my heart, I'm still HUMAN and as humans, it is hard to grasp the reality and concept of a triune God!  It is hard to accept God's unconditional love for me and His never-ending attention to every single detail of my life!  

So, today again, moment by moment, I had to CHOOSE.  To choose to believe that He IS in control.  To choose to believe that He loves me best.  To choose to believe that He IS in my yesterday, He is here with me moment by moment today, and He is also already in my tomorrow, just pleading with me!  Pleading with me, asking me to LET Him love me.  To let myself be HIS priority.  To enjoy the blessings that are there for me, because, 

I AM A PRINCESS . . . My Father is the King of Kings! ♥

(p.s., if you are following my "exercise" journey as well as my spiritual journey, I took a 6 mile bike ride BEFORE Sunday School & church today and then took a one mile walk this evening!  I am also helping to plan a 5K run/walk for May 12, with proceeds raised going towards our church's Missions Trip to Liberia this summer!   It feels SO GOOD to be working together on a project that will impact the WORLD for Jesus!) 

3/17/12

the race marked out for ME


I DID IT!!

I ran my FIRST 5K this morning!

3.2 miles . . . my goal was to finish in less than 30 minutes - which was a challenging goal.  A couple of years ago, I was running a mile a day and attempted 3 miles on my own and NEVER came in under 30 minutes - it's less than a 10 minute mile - which for me is GOOD!! :)

Today, my time was 28.17! :)

Yes, I was a LITTLE excited!! :) 

And, it didn't hit me until the finish line was in sight . . . 

. . . Nobody was waiting for me at the finish line. 

 Nobody was there "cheering" me on.  

No, that's not what I really mean.  

RICK wasn't there at the finish line.  RICK wasn't cheering me on.  

Grief hits at the strangest times.  

There is such a thing as a "runner's high" . . . I was feeling it, and right along with it, was sorrow mingled with the joy . . . THANKFULLY, I have wonderful friends and an awesome GOD!  Fred & Renee came and did the 5K walk - so while waiting for the race to start, I wasn't alone - they were there, we chatted, and they calmed my nerves (YES, I was nervous!).  When I was done and got to the car, I called some friends . . . friends full of encouragement . . . one with a "see, I told you that you could do it, it wasn't that bad, was it?", another with "I'm proud of you, and so is Rick", and another who screamed with excitement!  

Just the right people at just the right time - AGAIN! ♥

As I was looking for a picture to add tonight, I re-read this verse that I've heard SO MANY times . . . 

"...Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  Hebrews 12:1

THE RACE MARKED OUT FOR US

Today, the race organizers had the course marked out for the participants.  There were orange cones, police men directing runners and traffic, mile markers and water stations . . . they had the race marked out for us.  All we runners and walkers had to do was come and run/walk following the route they had prepared for us.

Well, then.  If the organizers of a 5K race had taken the time to mark out the race for us, how much more does GOD mark out the race of life for ME?

"RUN WITH PERSEVERANCE" . . . toady, I had to keep on running if I wanted to finish in less than 30 minutes (and if I wanted to beat that really tall guy off to my left - and I did!).  I had to persevere, even though it was very warm (for March in the U.P.), even though my legs were tired and quitting would have been "easier".  I had to persevere and follow the path that was marked out ahead of time.   As is life.  I have to persevere.  The race is MARKED OUT FOR ME.  The verse doesn't say anything about me getting to choose the path of the race.  It doesn't even say that I get to like every step on the path.  It just says to run MY race with perseverance!  It goes on to say "fixing my eyes on JESUS, the Author and Perfecter of faith".

I am pleased that I ran this race today.  I am pleased that at 45 years old, I'm probably in the best "physical" shape that I've ever been in.  I am pleased that I met my goal in finishing in under 30 minutes.  I am THRILLED that even in THIS, God met me.  God spoke to me.  God reminded me that though I may NOT like my "path" at times, HE has marked out this race for me.  And just like the race organizers today, God planned it AHEAD OF TIME!    The race He has "marked out for me" may surprise, shock, scare, or even paralyze me with fear at times, yet, HE marked out the race for me . . . it may take ME off guard, but it never takes HIM off guard!  

I do NOT understand the curve this path in my race took on November 5, 2011.  I do NOT know why my race seems to be on such rugged terrain right now.  I do NOT know why God chose this path for me.  BUT, I do know that HE has prepared the path.  HE was with us on November 5, HE was with me crossing that finish line today, and HE is in my tomorrow.

Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know Who holds the future
And I know Who holds my hand!

As another REMINDER, my "Jesus Calling" devotional today said, ". . . no detail of your life is hidden from Me . . . I will never leave you or forsake you!"

Maybe because it was a SATURDAY, maybe because I did something I've never done before, maybe because I had to go to the funeral home today for my Great Aunt's visitation.  I'm not sure why, but today was filled more than usual with missing Rick. 

It was a beautiful sunny day here in Michigan - a record breaking day for warm temperatures.  I spent part of the afternoon reading and resting in the sun . . . while I was laying with my eyes closed, I could hear cars driving by.  As I heard them coming up the road, my mind wandered . . . one of them was going to be that RED TRUCK . . . Rick was going to pull into the yard, his jeans dusty from work and his back already tanned from the sunshine this week . . . he was going to pull me into a hug and comfort me for the agony that has been my reality for the last 4 months, I would cry and he'd tell me it was o.k., it was just a bad dream . . . then, I opened my eyes.

The sun was still shining brightly, but . . . no red truck.  No Rickey pulling into the driveway.  No bad dream that I was waking up from . . . no, none of those things.  

This is the race that has been marked out for me.  I MUST CHOOSE to keep my eyes on JESUS, the author and perfecter of my faith.  I have to remember that no detail of my life is hidden from Him and that HE will NEVER leave me or forsake me.  Again today, the CHOICE was mine.  And despite the pain, despite the loneliness, there was joy sprinkled throughout the day.  Despite the pain, despite the loneliness, I WILL choose to trust Him and continue with perseverance this "race" He has marked out for me.

"Now it is God who makes you stand firm in Christ . . . He set his seal of ownership on us . . . "  2 Corinthians 1:21 & 22

3/16/12

♥3♥16♥97♥

March 16, 1997 . . . 15 years ago today . . .

We JOYFULLY welcomed "our"  (mine & Rick's) 2nd baby (and our family's 4th . . . we already had the 2 "big" kids, Nick & Ashley & "our" 1st, Tessa!)

TAYA JILL

into this world!

She came QUICKLY and has added SPICE to our life ever since!!  

15 years ago, I'd not have believed that we'd be celebrating this day without her Daddy "here" with us, yet, that IS the story God has written for us.

Despite the empty spot in our hearts and lives, today WAS a day filled with celebrating TAYA!  She has become a beautiful young lady, filled with love for her family, her friends and most importantly her LORD!

 She is giggly, goofy, and has a WONDERFUL sense of slap-stick humor!

I am thankful BEYOND words to be called her MAMA and I know that her DADDY felt the same about her!  She is a blessing to us and I'm anxious to see what GOD has in store for her as she continues to trust and follow HIM!

I've added a couple of pictures throughout the years, to share HER with YOU! ♥

TAYA JILL you are loved with an everlasting love - by your Mama, your Daddy, and JESUS!  Hold on to HIM throughout your life!  Remember to trust in HIM with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in ALL your ways acknowledge HIM and HE will direct your paths!  (Proverbs 3:5 & 6)

Our beautiful baby girl! ♥
♥ no words necessary ♥

Camping at Wells park . . . this is one of my FAVORITE pictures . . . EVER!

The PARTY!! :) Lots of friends, lots of laughs, lots of LOVE! ♥

.... some traditions MUST go on  . . .  Daddy would have wanted that! ♥

It's GREAT to have an AMAZING friend who makes the most AMAZING CAKES! 

Isn't this one of the CUTEST cakes you've EVER seen?  And it tasted even better -  2 layer white cake with a raspberry & custard filling!

On  this, my "middle" girl's SPECIAL day, my devotional told me, "It is good that you recognize your weakness . . . that keeps you looking to ME, your Strength . . . the more difficult your day, the more I yearn to help you . . . anxiety wraps you up in yourself, trapping you in your own thoughts . . . when you look to Me and whisper My Name, you break free and receive my help!"   I had copied this portion this morning, and wa-la (is THAT how you spell it?!) . . . guess what???  I hit a "difficult" spot in my day . . . a spot that ALMOST reduced me to tears . . a spot where I had to STOP, DROP and ROLL . . . well, not really, but I had to STOP, READ and LISTEN . . . to these words of wisdom!  I had to CHOOSE to not let my anxiety wrap me up in myself, I had to CHOOSE to LOOK to HIM and whisper HIS NAME . . . to break free and receive HIS help!! And, guess what?  IT WORKED (well, duh, right?)

AGAIN, GOD IS GOOD!!

We came home to a quick supper of pizza, a quick mile run for me, and off to a youth event for the kids at a neighboring church . . . when we came home we enjoyed the delicious cake pictured above along with ice cream made by the local dairy . . . YUMMY!  Now, my living room is filled with 5 giggling teenagers, my parent's living room is filled with 4 "older" teenagers watching a movie and I'm snuggled in next to my "little bug"!! ♥  I can, again tonight state that LIFE IS GOOD.  Though there were many reminders today of the empty spot in our lives left by Rick's moving to HEAVEN, GOD helped to fill the empty places.  He gave us just the measure of love that we needed for today - just like HE promises to do!

Tomorrow, I'm PLANNING to run a 5K . . . my FIRST (I "on a whim" walked/ran one last year, but it was more walking than running and no training!).  I'm really nervous!!  I was greatly encouraged by a good friend today that, "It's only 3 miles . . . YOU CAN DO IT!"  . . . and, so, I'm committed to giving it my best shot!!  :)  I'll give you an  update tomorrow night! ♥

"A cheerful heart is good medicine"  Proverbs 17:22

3/15/12

JESUS paid it ALL ♥


This picture says it ALL!

If you can look at this and NOT be moved . . . well, I'm not sure WHAT to say!

THIS picture depicts my HOPE.

THIS picture depicts my JOY.

THIS picture depicts the REASON I CAN SMILE.

THIS picture is the REASON that I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW exactly WHERE Rick is today and that SOMEDAY, I will be reunited with him in GLORY.

It's been awhile since I shared ... so, how did he KNOW, how do we KNOW? You can link to that post by clicking on the red letters, or keep reading here for the answer (or do both!)! ♥

The PAIN that this picture depicts is PAIN that should have been felt by me.  By you.  By Rick.  Instead, it was ALL borne by Jesus Christ.  And HE would have taken ALL of that pain even if I was the only person on this earth.  Or you.  Or Rick.  He did it for each and every one of us individually.

OH, HOW HE LOVES YOU AND ME ♥

And ALL YOU MUST DO to accept this gift HE has offered is to trust in HIM.  To believe that he suffered the death on the cross in YOUR place.  To take away YOUR sins.  You only have to believe that ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  You only have to believe that the WAGES of sin is DEATH (Romans 6:23 a), BUT the GIFT (free, undeserved, unmerited) of GOD is ETERNAL life through Jesus Christ our LORD! (Romans 6:23 b)  You just have to TRUST that God so loved the world that He GAVE His ONLY BEGOTTEN Son, that WHOSOEVER believes on HIM shall not perish, but have EVERLASTING life! (John 3:16)

It's really that simple!  You don't have to do good works (you could never do or be good enough!).  You don't have to go to the right church, sit in the right pew, give the right amount of money or even be baptized.  Being "good" is a right way to live, going to church and having fellowship with other believers is WONDERFUL, having "your" own pew isn't wrong, giving to the church to further the Gospel is great, baptism is an OUTWARD expression of your faith, yet NONE of those things will GET YOU INTO HEAVEN!!

But if you CONFESS with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and BELIEVE in your heart that God raised Him from the dead . . . YOU WILL BE SAVED!  (Romans 10:9)

That's it.  In a nutshell.  Plain and simple.

Yet, it's PROFOUND!!  It's what Rick did.  He confessed with his mouth - he believed in his heart and GOD SAVED HIM!!  Rick WAS a "good" guy.  Rick did go to church regularly.  We gave to the church regularly.  Rick and I were baptized on the same day . . . but THOSE aren't the reasons we KNOW where he is.  We KNOW where he is because he simply put his hope and faith in Jesus Christ.  He trusted the Lord as his PERSONAL Lord and Savior.  He asked Christ into his heart and asked Him to be the ruler of his life.  

So in that split second between life and death, Rick's eternity was sealed!  He was sealed for ETERNITY with the LORD in GLORY!  

As we who are left here grieve our loss, the loss of a husband, daddy, papa, son, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, friend . . . Rick is experiencing JOY beyond our wildest dreams.  Joy unspeakable and full of glory!  And one day, we KNOW that we will be reunited with him!

There's so much more I could say, but I think tonight, I'll let the picture speak for itself.  The image of the spike being driven through HIS hand.  The only hand on this earth to NEVER HAVE DONE WRONG.  The only spotless, blameless hand on the only spotless, blameless man to EVER walk this earth, yet, HE suffered and died a hideous death so that we may LIVE.  So that even in our grief, we can smile through our tears and have the promise of WHERE Rick is and that we WILL join him someday!

Jesus paid it all
All to HIM I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
HE washed it white as snow!

{me, a chatterbox?}

if you have followed my blog at all you know that my heart has always been to share God's grace in the midst of human tragedy ... or wh...