4/29/12


Again today, I CHOOSE to believe this - I will continue to have FAITH that where I am RIGHT NOW is exactly where He wants me to be and that the places He will take me are known only by Him!  With that thought in mind, I can sleep well tonight and in the nights to come regardless of whatever circumstances may come my way on a daily basis!  GOD is taking me somewhere, I just have to have FAITH in HIM! :) 

Tonight, I am going to sleep happy to have all 3 girls home under the same roof again!  I'm thankful for the WONDERFUL blessing of THEM and their big brother & sister . . . they are truly my earthly lifelines - the ones who, like Rick, will always be there, through thick and thin!  I LOVE YOU Nick, Ashley Beth, Tessa, Taya & Kajsa (and Ashley Marie and Brian too!)

Busy Saturday....

The garage cleaning is almost done and the basement is beginning to see some progress thanks to my great little buddy, Kajsa Jo!!!!

The Parli Pro Team from SHS took FIRST in the NATION again ... For the 13th consecutive year ... It's Tessa's SENIOR year AND 13 was her Daddy's (and big brother & big sister's) favorite number!!!! Just a little {hug} from Daddy!!!

Graduation announcements almost ready to mail out and I'm watching "We Bought A Zoo" with Kajsa!! Tessa will be home in 5 or 6 hours and I pick up Taya at noon tomorrow ... :)

Yes, even though I miss Rick terribly, life is still good and I am very blessed!

4/27/12

My GOD is cool like that!


This is another FAVORITE verse of mine!

But, until you are fully, truly, every second of every day hoping in the LORD, you don't really know how wonderfully HE will RENEW your STRENGTH!!  How despite, or maybe in spite of your circumstances, you CAN soar on wings like EAGLES!!  How you can RUN and not be WEARY and walk and not faint!

Today, I ran 6.33 miles (+ a little bit more - I turned my running program off a little before I was done by accident!)  And I did it in an hour - those are less than 10 minute miles - sustained!!  I even ran through the cemetery so I could tell Rick about it . . . I KNOW he's not really there, but it is the last resting place of his earthly body, there is a comfort in just knowing that he is there . . . I never used to like the cemetery, but now, it is a peaceful beautiful place - I felt really at peace running through it today.  It's still really hard for me to grasp the fact that my biggest "fan" is not here for me!  That is still one of my biggest "holes" . . . the not being somebody's priority.  Not having someone who is always there, just for ME . . . Nobody to go out to eat with tonight, or go to the movies with, or sit home and do nothing with . . . it really is quite the adjustment.  I very often feel like some people feel like I should be "getting over it" already, but really, how do you just "get over" 20 years of someone?  How do you fill those empty spots?  I KNOW that God IS always there, but as someone said to me, "God can't take you out to the Landing"! . . . Oh, so true.  So sad, and so very true.  I TRUST that God is my ALL in ALL, He is my STRENGTH when I am WEAK, He is the TREASURE that I SEEK . . . but HE created the institution of marriage, I believe HE knows the empty spot in my heart, and He reaches down, reminding me to look up and to HANG ON - His plans are higher than mine, He only asks me to TRUST and OBEY . . . for there really is no other way!

Today, God did RENEW my strength.  I was having a not so good day and was throwing myself a pretty good pity party . . . BUT after my run, my mind was much clearer and I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my evening at home ALONE!  I enjoyed the peace and quiet and even though a million things are clamoring for my attention, I did NOTHING!!  It will all be there for me tomorrow!

Taya is having fun with her friend Linz at the concert in Lansing, Kajzi is (of course) having fun with Sarah working on a solar powered hot-dog cooker and Tessa called me a couple of times and it was really nice to talk to her.  She is enjoying Chicago and her last BPA trip!  The last call was to let me know that they made it to FINALS and will compete at 9:50 a.m. (CST) tomorrow!  I will surely be praying for win number 13 tomorrow morning!!

"Come to me  . . . Your life path has been difficult, draining you of strength.  Come to Me for nurture.  Let Me fill you up with My Presence.  Faltering steps of dependence are not lack of faith; they are links to My Presence" ~ Jesus Calling

As I re-opened my devotional for today to add the portion above that really spoke to me this morning, I looked further down on the page to re-read the verses of the day . . . the second one was: 

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, thew will walk and not be faint. 
Isaiah 40:29-31.  

I did NOT remember that verse was in there from this morning - I had already chosen a picture above and written most of this post BEFORE looking again at today's devotional! THAT is NOT coincidence, THAT is a GOD THING, because, you know, my God, He is way cool like that! :) 

4/26/12

storms


"Don't tell God how big your storm is, tell the storm how big your God is!"

I heard this quote 2 times this week in 2 different places!

Tonight, my sister-in-law's mom had this picture on Facebook . . . It makes me smile even though it's a tough thought!

When the girls were little (Tessa especially), they were scared of storms.  I remember Rick tenderly taking her out on the front porch and holding her tightly while they watched a storm rage - lots of lightening and thunder - but Daddy held her close, she was safe, and she was no longer afraid, SHE TRUSTED HER DADDY . . . the storm was big, but to that little girl, her Daddy was bigger!  With that image in my mind, and KNOWING how much "that" daddy loved his little girl, HOW MUCH MORE does our Heavenly Daddy love us? It does in just a TINY way put the Lord's love into some kind of earthly perspective!

That same little girl who wanted to run to the basement just hearing the weatherman say there was a storm is the same beautiful young lady who stood on a deck in Alabama with me earlier this month taking pictures . . . 


. . . taking pictures of a storm!  A beautiful fireworks display put on for us by our loving Heavenly Daddy!  And thanks to the strong, loving, protective arms of her earthly Daddy, she no longer feared the storm, she enjoyed the beauty of it, she praised God for His majesty proclaimed in it!

. . . "and though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm"
~Casting Crowns~

These thoughts are going through my mind tonight as I'm praying for the Lord to calm my inner storms . . . 

Right now, Tessa is in Chicago (competing, having fun and falling in love with Broadway shows!).  Taya is on her way to Lansing for "Acquire the Fire" a Christian youth event (where she gets to see Lecrae - which she is pretty pumped about!).  She also finished up Segment I driver's ed tonight and got her learner's permit and drove us home from town!  Kajsa is sleeping next to me right now, but is spending a night at a friend's house tomorrow night so they can make a "solar powered hot dog cooker" for extra credit for Science Lab!  I'm so glad that my girls are growing and blossoming - despite this storm that they are going through.  I'm so thankful that they've continued to look to Jesus to calm the storm.  I'm so PROUD to be their mom!

It didn't "hit" me until this evening that 6 months ago this weekend, the girls all had something to do on Friday night too, so Rick and I went out on a date!  With 3 kids living at home that didn't happen all that often!  We wanted to go to our favorite place (The Landing), but they were full, so we decided on the new Mexican place in town (LaCabana).  I LOVED my meal, he wasn't so crazy about his.  We ordered fried ice cream - he let me have most of the chocolate sauce.  I wore a black turtleneck and dress jeans.  We talked and laughed, we talked about it almost being hunting season (Rick's FAVORITE time of the year).  We talked about the girls, and how proud we were of them.  We talked about the big kids and the grand kids . . . we talked about everything and nothing . . . I was so thankful for my nice, tidy, happy, uneventful little life that I was living . . . pretty free of any major storms . . . . 

but . . . unknown to me . . . 

  It was our last date.  

Little did I know THAT 6 months ago.  I'm so thankful that God gave us that night.  It was nothing spectacular.  It was the most spectacular night of my life (in retrospect!) . . .  it was our last date.  A night I will always remember!  A night I will always be thankful for.  A gift the Lord gave me, though I didn't know it at the time what a precious gift it was!  

Here we are, 6 months after that dinner out at LaCabana's . . . the girls still with plans for their Friday night, and me, yes, still praising GOD, even in this STORM, even though my life doesn't seem so tidy and uneventful anymore . . . though it still is "nice" and it is still "happy" - just in a different way.  

Yes.
I wish Rick and I were going on a date TOMORROW night.
Yes.
I wish Daddy was still here to hold me and/or the girls while we feared a storm.
Yes.
I question why US and why THIS storm.
Yes.
I wish there was some way to explain our storm to others - because it's really a "lonely" storm.
Yes.
Yes.
Yes.

Yes.
I am praising God.
Yes.
I am telling my storm that MY GOD is bigger.
Yes.
"I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away . . . I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and earth"
~Casting Crowns~


4/24/12

(: y.e.p :)


I had a post all ready in my head for tonight (yes, as I go through the day, I think about what is "post" worthy!)!  

However, it's going to have to be on hold because JUST as I was getting ready to log on and post, the phone rang, Kajzi answered it and was told to 
ANSWER THE DOOR!!!

Nick, Ashley & Lila stopped in on their way through from a church convention!
YEAH! WHAT A WONDERFUL END TO THE DAY! :) 

Love my kids SO MUCH! :)

(Tessa did make it to Chicago today, they saw the "Jersey Boys" tonight and head into the city tomorrow and begin competition!)

4/23/12

♥i♥love♥my♥kids♥

Tomorrow morning, Tessa leaves for Chicago!
The Stephenson High School BPA (Business Professionals of America) students will be attending the NATIONAL CONVENTION!
(the ONE year I went to Nationals, it was also in Chicago!)
She is on the Parli Pro (Parliamentary Procedure) team.
They are given a meeting agenda with certain "points" of parliamentary procedure (Robert's Rules of Order, anyone?) that they must complete.  They have 15 minutes to prepare their presentation and then the "perform" live for the judges (so kind of like "impromptu" speech coordinated among 7 people!)  They also have to take a written test - individually and those scores are weighed into their final score.

This year's team is going for win #13 in a row (obviously not the same kids, but same advisor - she was my Parli Pro advisor and I graduated in 1984!)  They are also going to see a live play, I'm sure they will do some shopping and Navy Pier is on the agenda!   They will be staying right down town on the River Walk - at the same hotel we stayed in when we went down at Christmas time! And after that, I think she has something like 13 days left of school!!  

I can't BELIEVE how fast it's coming and it's SO EXCITING to see where God is leading her!  I KNOW that we will have many bittersweet moments during the upcoming weeks, but, I also KNOW that her DADDY is so VERY PROUD of her (as well as her big brother who will graduate from college just 2 weeks before she graduates from High School - he on May 5, she on May 20!)  Along with all this excitement, Taya is on the track team and Kajsa is wrapping up her final projects of the school year.  Ashley has Ty enrolled in soccer and swimming lessons (Papu would just LOVE to see Ty playing soccer!)  Daila & Maddie have their dance recital and Lila will be turning ONE!  We will face all of these upcoming events missing Rick/Daddy/Papa being with us, but knowing that his LOVE will never leave us!  I also know that the kids will always strive to still make him proud of them - as he ALWAYS was!  I'm glad that despite the sadness that is sure to come, we are all blessed with the knowledge of Rick's love for us, and our assurance of being reunited some day in Heaven!

I wasn't going to post much tonight, but, just wanted to share about these AWESOME kids who God has blessed me with!! I want to thank HIM for the blessing of them!  My life truly is RICH!

And, I wanted to share a little funny that made me smile tonight . . . 


4/22/12

amen!


                                as written by GOD


It's pretty late and I'm pretty tired, but I'm thinking I won't sleep unless I "journal", so here I am!  I'm kind of afraid this might be one of those "not so pretty" posts . . . that's your warning to quit reading NOW if you want!!

Over the course of the last {almost} 6 months {gasp! is it THAT long already?}, I have been given MANY books, MUCH advice and read NUMEROUS stories of people who have lost their spouses.  In most of my reading, there are a couple of "common threads".  These are not all inclusive, but some that have really stuck with me.  When you first start on any journey (an exciting trip, schooling, a new job, marriage, the death of a spouse), there are MANY unknowns.  Sometimes you can rely on the "expertise" of others who have experienced the journey before you, sometimes, you just have to find your way as your journey is not that of anyone else, it is uniquely yours.  Although my journey is unique to me (as it is to each person who was touched by Rick's life . . . but this is my blog, so I only speak for myself - not even my children most of the time!), I am experiencing some of those "common threads" that I read about, heard about and was even "warned" about.  Some of those things I have heard/read/been advised that I am finding true are:

  • The death of a spouse is a unique loss.  The spousal relationship is the only one in which the Lord commands that TWO become ONE.  In the parent/child relationship even, no matter how close the relationship, there is still a point of separation - USUALLY it is when the child leaves home, often to marry their own spouse - they are then instructed to "leave" and "cleave", God did not intend for that relationship to continue on with the same bond as a husband/wife.  So, in losing a spouse you truly lose 1/2 of yourself. 

  • The death of a spouse is the loss of identity.  When you are married, you are often referred to as "the couple" (Rick & Sheila) . . . all of a sudden, that distinction is GONE.  And unless you have experienced it, you don't realize how much of a "couples oriented" society we live in!  It's also VERY DIFFERENT than the divorce "from" a spouse.  Not to take away anything from all my "single" mom friends, but it's NOT the same - at all!

  • The death of a spouse will bring about "secondary losses".  This one seemed crazy to me at first, because at first you are thinking about surviving to the next minute, not necessarily the next hour, the next day, the next week or the next month.  Once some time has passed and some of your bearings have returned, you realize the truth of this statement, and to be honest, this one REALLY STINKS!  To have to lose Rick, my BEST friend, the ONE person who I could ALWAYS count on, the ONE who ALWAYS had my back, the ONE who laughed with me, cried with me, loved our kids with me is just . . . gone.  Just like that.  That was ENOUGH loss, I did not/do not want any more!  As I was reading/hearing that I'd not only suffer the loss of all that Rick represented to me, but I'd lose in other ways,  I didn't want to believe it.  Sadly, I have found that it is true.  Some of the losses are VERY obvious, and some are more "subtle".  Some others can understand, and some are very hard to explain, but each is a loss just the same.


This list is NOT complete, it is just some of the things that have been running around in my head today.

Today.  It's a Saturday.  Saturday is a marker of time in my world.  Another Saturday marks another week.  Another week of change.  Another week of trying to learn how to live with 1/2 of me gone.  Another week of being "single" in a couple's world.  Another week of realizing other things that I have "lost" along with the loss of Rick.  It is also another week of praising God for giving us another week.  It's another week of thanking Him for carrying us through - giving us love and laughter and "new" memories.  It's another week of relying fully on Him - more than I ever have before.  It's another week of being thankful for the big and the little things in life, knowing that it can all change in the blink of an eye.  

As I wake up slowly, realizing that I'm waking up on my own, not to an alarm clock, I happily remember that it's the weekend - no alarm and today, we have nowhere that we have to be early in the morning!  Oh, yes, it's the weekend, it's Saturday.  What time is it?  What was Rick doing at THIS time on THAT Saturday . . . I look at the clock - it's about the time that he was quietly leaning over the bed to give me a quick kiss on the cheek before going to finish up THAT roof.  He didn't always do that before he left in the morning - I'm so glad he did that day! I get out of bed and get ready for the day, starting some laundry and beginning to straighten up the house to prepare for our guests this evening (our "extension" kids from Northland International University).  Throughout the morning, I'm glancing at the clock, remembering.  Tessa & Kajsa take a quick trip to town, I take Taya up to Driver's Ed (she only has 2 more days of driving and then she will have her learner's permit).  As I am driving home, I remember calling Rick, asking when he's coming home, and both of us ending the call (almost in unison - years of practice!) "Love you, see you soon" . . . the last words we shared here on earth.  As I turn on our road, I'm aware that it's almost "that time" (the time that I know, according to the death certificate, that Rick went to Heaven).  I pull into the driveway very aware that none of us are guaranteed to do that when we leave . . . did Rick have ANY CLUE of that . . . did he ever DREAM he'd not be coming home that day?  I need to DO something, I decide that I will run on the treadmill, it's a beautiful sunny day, though the temperature is in the high 40's which I'd usually like for a run, I can't get warm today.  So I choose the treadmill, at a slow pace (4.5 mph), but I run the entire time (61 minutes) and complete 4.75 miles (the FURTHEST I've EVER run in my life!).  I'm feeling a little better.  That ALWAYS happens once I get past "that time".  Once I know that we've passed the moment when on that Saturday, Rick made his move from earth to Heaven . . . then the day can move on without me watching the clock.  It's not something that I can describe . . . it's not an overwhelming feeling what I experienced today, it's just what it is.  I am o.k. with that.  I'm glad that I don't panic anymore when I remember those moments, that last kiss, that last "I love you".  I'm glad that I had those things and they bring a smile to my face! :)  I still struggle throughout the day.  Now days, it's more based on the not knowing . . . the not knowing for sure "where" I "fit", "who" I am now, with Rick gone.   I've come to accept that it really happened, that Rick really isn't coming "home" here on earth - he really is HOME for all eternity!  As I got into the shower tonight, I realized that except for my Dad & Mom and the Driver's Ed instructor, I've not talked to anyone beyond college age ALL DAY.  I've texted a couple of friends a couple of times, but no other contact.  No phone calls, no visits, no "connection".  No Rick to chat with at day's end.  No Rick to laugh with about the funny events of the day.  No Rick helping me clean up the kitchen after supper, or to build the bonfire, or to show the graduation party invitations that we made today for Tessa's party.  No Hunting Channel on the TV in the bedroom . . . More of those changes, those "secondary losses", tightly intertwined with the "primary loss".  The being a "single" in a "couples" society on a weekend day - when couples are doing couple things with each other.  So many changes, so many losses, so much to learn!  Rambling thoughts, not looking to be "fixed", just needing to get "out"!

I don't share my day to gain sympathy.  Tonight was just a night I needed to write.  I needed to get my feelings out of my head and onto "paper".  Maybe some day, in some way they will help someone.  My prayer has been that some day in some way, I can help someone!  I want to "use" my loss, "primary" and "secondary" to help others deal with their own losses.  I pray that the Lord will use this journey that He has me on for His honor and His glory.  I pray that rather than become consumed with the "half - empty" glass I could see in the "losses", that I will see it not just as "half - full", but full and over-flowing.  Because even in the midst of loss and change and learning, my glass IS still full.  It IS EVEN overflowing!  I HAVE been blessed beyond measure.  I am FULLY CONFIDENT that Rick is safe in the arms of Jesus for ETERNITY.  I am BLESSED with awesome kids, family and friends.  I have lost far less than many others have lost - some of the widows who I have "met" online have had to sell their homes, they have had to leave their churches, they have lost contact with their in-laws and they worry about where the money for the bills will come from.  Rick did NOT lose on November 5, and though I "lost" in the earthly/human sense of the word, that is NOT true . . . "For to me to live is CHRIST and to die is GAIN."!  As long as I keep my eyes on the TRUE "gain" and not the earthly "losses", I will survive and I will grow.  My life will be different, and that's o.k.  for my "different" is exactly the story HE has written for me!




4/19/12

t.h.a.n.k.f.u.l THURSDAY ♥


 . . . SO MANY THINGS!!

Though my life was turned upside down and there are still so many unknowns, still such an empty place in our house, still such a hole in my heart, I am able to say that I AM THANKFUL!

My "Jesus Calling" devotional the other day said, "Many things feel out of control.  Your routines are not running smoothly . . . you tend to feel more secure when your life is predictable . . . let Me lead you to the Rock that is higher than you and your circumstances . . . take refuge in the shelter of My wings, where you are absolutely secure . . . when you are shaken . . . grip My hand tightly . . . I lead you on from glory to glory, making you fit for My kingdom . . . trust Me, and don't be afraid"!

I am THANKFUL that my LORD is always there!  I am THANKFUL that HE knows that things won't always make sense to me (us).  I am THANKFUL that I have been able to GRIP HIS HAND TIGHTLY, to TAKE SHELTER IN THE SHELTER OF HIS WINGS.  I am THANKFUL that I have always felt HIM holding me - even when the bottom dropped out of my life!

I'm also thankful for the friends that HE brings into my life.  I'm so very thankful for the wonderful friends that I've had for many years - some who live here, some who are far away, but still are just a phone call, a text or an e-mail away.  

Another group of friends that I'm so thankful for are those that 6 months ago, I'd NEVER have dreamed I would have reason to know.  Those are my "new" friends.  Most of them only known by a name and a picture on the computer, yet each of them friends just the same as we share a common thread.  We all are walking this unknown road of being a widow.  I'm thankful for the modern marvel of technology that has led me to these ladies.  It's amazing to find that some of the feelings that I have that seem pretty crazy, aren't crazy at all!  I HAVE had the opportunity to have deeper "conversations" with some of these ladies through e-mails, "snail mail" and by phone - sharing our hearts with each other!  A dear former widow began a "private" Facebook group for widows only called "Lifeboat" . . .  what an appropriate name . . . it's the "lifeboat" that we boarded the day our dear husbands went to Jesus - our "lifeboat" to ride for a time, until we are safely to shore!  It's a safe haven, and a blessing that wasn't available to her when she became a "young widow" years ago.  She is using her hurts, her triumphs, her loss, and her love to reach out to others!  That is what my prayer is, that some day, in some way, I MIGHT be able to do that for others!

My kids have been such a source of thankfulness, I can't even begin to describe it!  I love them - all 5 of them - more than any of them will ever know!  Though my 2 "big" kids aren't really "mine", I'm thankful to their Mom for sharing them with me!  I'm thankful for the blessing they bring to me!  My 3 "littles" who are home with me bring more joy to me than I can describe!  Even though nothing is the same as it was before, and nothing will ever be the same, we still love and we still LAUGH . . . and trust me, we laugh ALOT!!  Often it's "them" laughing at "me", but, I'm getting older, I understand, I'm just funny!! :) 

Tonight, I just needed to share that.  As strange as it might sound, I'm still able to be thankful!  I'm still able to look around me and see that there are still blessings beyond measure in my every day!  I'm thankful that the Lord has given me the strength to see things through His eyes!  That even when things seem the darkest and bleakest, He is still there.  He still holds on and He still longs to bring joy and peace and thankfulness!

4/18/12

p.e.a.c.e.

From "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young...

Peace is My continual gift to you. It flows abundantly from My throne of grace. Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with My Peace. The day-by-day collecting of manna kept My people aware of their dependence on Me. Similarly, I give you sufficient Peace for the present, when you come to me by prayer and petition with thanksgiving. If I gave you permanent Peace, independent of My Presence, you might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency. May that never be!

4/17/12

:)

Beautiful flowers from my sweet friend Nicole who probably won't see them here because reading my blog makes her cry!!

Another crazy, insane day at work, yet in the midst of it I felt peaceful....! Peaceful but exhausted so nothing more tonight!! I promise, more soon, but I've learned, blogging DOES NOT come first!!!

G'night!!

4/16/12

Good day!!

I had a really good first day back ... considering it started with me forgetting my keys and being locked out of my office for about 20 minutes at 6:00 a.m.!!!

The morning started as last night ended, with a giggle! Taya and I were leaving early to get her to Driver's Ed ... As she came out of her bedroom (at 5:00-ish), she was wearing sunglasses!! I asked her why and she said, "I thought they were my glasses!" ... She later told me she wondered why it was so "dark and blurry". I'm sure it was more of a "you had to be there" moment, but I'm still giggling typing it!!

I was treated to a beautiful springtime bouquet from my friend Nicole, was reminded several times throughout the day that I was being prayed for, came home to a sweet card from a "cyber" friend and had a really nice night at Bible Study! All in all a very nice day, filled with love and contentment!!

And now, off to bed before 10:00, that's a record for me!!

I'll share what I talked about last night soon, but, tonight I sleep!! My Bible Study is on "A Well Balanced Life" and without sleep, I'm very unbalanced!!!

G'night all!!

4/15/12

nothing brilliant or witty . . . just a mousetrap car!

I WAS going to go to bed at 9:00 . . . oops . . . it's 11:38 and here I am!!

I have something that was REALLY GOOD for me that a new "widow friend" posted on her Facebook and she gave me permission to re-use it, but, I need TIME and energy for it, so maybe tomorrow!!

So, rather than deep and serious . . . 

you

get

this!!

Today, we started with THIS on our kitchen counter . . . 


And after MANY hours, LOTS of LAUGHTER, 2 "Face Time" chats with Uncle Tim and a couple of texts, we ended up with THIS . . . 


And it even WORKS . . . probably not as good as it's supposed to, but, it's our FIRST "Daddy should be here, but he's not" project.  It was just one of those things that we needed to do mostly on our own (I KNOW we could have called on any number of people for help, so don't feel bad that we didn't call you or that you didn't help!)  We did borrow from Uncle Tim's knowledge a little bit, but it was from a distance, so all of the "hands-on" was us.  It's not perfect.  She won't win any awards with it, but, it feels like an accomplishment!  We have all paid enough attention to the things that were more "caught" than "taught" by Rick and we "Got it Done"!  And we did it without much discord, lots of laughing, listening to some silly music to inspire us and LOTS of trial & error!

Thanks, Rick, for ALL you taught us (and are STILL teaching me - I was MUCH more patient tonight than I would have been in the past) and THANK YOU LORD for standing in the gap and listening to my pleas for help - that we could at least make it work - it did!! :) 

I'm thankful that GOD reminds me of HIS presence and LOVE even in the little things like a Science 9 project to build a mousetrap car!!  He really does care about EVERY SINGLE DETAIL!!

And, now, I MUST try to get some sleep!  Back to work for me tomorrow . . . and, yes, I'm a little stressed about it . . . so if you think of it, please whisper a prayer for me!  It will be an EARLY start as Taya has Driver's Ed . . . and has to BE AT SCHOOL at 6:00 a.m.!!  So, g'night y'all! :) 

4/14/12

♥ an everlasting love ♥



"At the end of your life is an entrance to Heaven.  Only I know when you will reach that destination, but I am preparing you for it each step of the way.  The ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY of your Heavenly Home gives you Peace and Joy . . . . you will reach your home in My PERFECT TIMING:  not one moment too soon or too late.  Let the hope of heaven encourage you, as you walk along the path of Life with Me."  ~ Jesus Calling

That was TODAY's reading in my Jesus Calling devotional.

TODAY is a SATURDAY.

This SATURDAY marks 23 weeks.

This devotional is VERY SPECIFIC.  It states some TRUTHS that I have trusted in for most of my life, but, they became "real" on November 5.

ONLY I KNOW WHEN YOU WILL REACH THAT DESTINATION (Heaven).  I'm sure when Rick backed his truck out of the driveway that morning, he had no idea that he'd not be coming back . . . we talked on the phone probably not more than an hour before the accident, making our plans for the rest of the day . . . however, "our" plans were NOT the Lord's plans.

I AM PREPARING YOU FOR IT EACH STEP OF THE WAY.  If we keep our eyes on the destination (Heaven), each step of our journey will prepare us for that glorious reunion!  And even in the midst of our loss and sadness, we can have PEACE and JOY because of our ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY OF OUR HEAVENLY HOME!

And even though Rick and I had plans . . . for the rest of the day on November 5, and for many years to come . . . YOU WILL REACH YOUR HOME IN MY PERFECT TIMING:  NOT ONE MOMENT TOO SOON OR TO LATE.

Again today, I CHOOSE to trust in those truths.  I CHOOSE to trust that Rick did not leave this world one moment too soon or one minute too late . . . though in my mind it sure seems too soon!

23 weeks . . . 

23 weeks of CHANGE.

23 weeks of UNCERTAINTY.

23 weeks since I've walked into the bedroom and found the TV tuned into the OUTDOOR CHANNEL (and I still CAN'T let it STOP at that channel).

23 weeks of trying to find a new "rhythm" to our life.

23 weeks of going shopping and grabbing "something" (a shirt, a hat, Vanilla Coke, Throwback Mountain Dew, something, anything camo . . .) and remembering that Rick's not home waiting for me to bring him a little surprise.

23 weeks of not picking up dirty socks, empty ice cream bowls or work boots that have been left lying around.

23 weeks of trying to figure out where "I" fit in . . . no longer a "couple" in a "couple's oriented" society.

23 weeks . . . . 

23 weeks of CHANGE.

23 weeks of UNCERTAINTY.

Yet, in that UNCERTAINTY and amidst all the CHANGE, some things have remained CONSTANT.

I have been blessed with the BEST KIDS in the world (o.k. I know I'm biased, but they are pretty great - I LOVE YOU Nick & Ashley, Brian & Ashley, Tessa, Taya & Kajsa Jo!)

Those "big kids" who have allowed me to share in their lives have blessed me with wonderful grand-kids (Presten, Daila, Maddie, Ty & Lila - you are the BEST!)

I have some pretty awesome parents, in-laws and siblings (& sibling in-laws).

I have a wonderful church family.

I have some very good friends - old and new.

And . . . my LORD has remained CONSTANT . . . even when I "blow it"!
(I mentioned last time that I will "blow it" and guess what?  The VERY NEXT day - not 12 hours later, I "blew it" by "blowing up" at a co-worker).  

In ALL that, in the doubts, the uncertainty, the feeling of not belonging, the struggles to understand and be understood, in ALL of it, God's love for me has not become lesser or more or different . . . 

HE STILL LOVES ME WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE ♥

As we arrive at SATURDAY, it does get a little less painful.  I don't mark every minute relating it to November 5, I breathe a little easier and panic a little less.  Yet, today, as I sent Kajsa off with her friend Sarah to celebrate Sarah's Birthday, I had a moment of panic . . . you see, Kajsa was gone with Sarah on November 5.  She hasn't gone out of town with Sarah since then . . . ouch!  It's all those little things, the things that "haunt" only me.  Those things that can't be explained to others, because, really, truly, unless you have "been there", I am realizing, you can't "get it"!  And, THAT'S o.k., because if you haven't been there, I don't want you to be . . . for a very long time! :)  

God was again GRACIOUS to us.  We had a good day!  We (Tessa, Taya & myself) got to visit with many of our former college students who we love dearly!  We got to hold and love on some of their babies while they attended a wedding, we got to have "Newlin" pizza with them later this evening . . . We were BLESSED today through the love of others for our little family.  And for that, we are THANKFUL!

As we journey on, we will continue to trust and hope and persevere, because . . .  

♥ HE HAS LOVED US WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE ♥

4/12/12

He's still workin' on me!


Well, tonight I was going to be "clever".  Then I was going to be "snippy".  Then i was going to be "in-your-face" honest.  Then I wasn't going to blog at all . . . but, here I am . . . and I may ramble . . . sorry!!

The last couple (is it few or several or couple . . . Rick and I ALWAYS argued about that!!) weeks have been rough weeks.  The have been amazing weeks.  They have been restorative weeks.  They have been exciting, relaxing, tiring, overwhelming, crazy weeks!  And I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I've also made mistakes in the past weeks.  Many.  And, you know what?  I'll make many more in the days, weeks, months and years to come.  I'll say dumb things.  I'll do dumb things.  I'll burn bridges I shouldn't have and I'll keep bridges that should be burned.  I'll say things about GOD and faith that I MEAN, but don't always ACT.  I will fail my girls.  I will fail my parents.  I will fail Rick's memory and legacy.  I will fail my friends and my employers and my co-workers.  I'll fail GOD.

So tonight, rather than clever, or snippy or in your face, I'll just ask you, if you read my blog and don't know me in person, please know, that it's not all flowers and sunshine in my life - I'm a normal person with normal bad days - I just vowed from the beginning of this journey to LOOK for and try to FIND the silver lining . . . in EVERY day, because I believe if I look hard enough and trust in God along the way, that even on the worst days, He can give me SOMETHING beautiful!  If you know me in person because you go to church with me or you see me at the grocery store or you work with me or our kids are friends or any of the other ways we may have connected, please remember that I WILL FAIL.  I will BLOW IT and sometimes not PRACTICE what I PREACH.  I will say and do things and I will act in ways that I later regret . . . and for that, I'm SORRY.

I've made and un-made and made again some "big" (for me) decisions over the past weeks.  At this moment, I'm at peace with those decisions.  They have not been made hastily or without prayer and counsel from some people who I admire and trust greatly.  They have not been made without hours of prayer, by me and the people mentioned above.  You may not understand some of the things that I do or don't do.  Guess what?  I don't always either.  It's this weird thing called GRIEF . . . this new house guest who I DID NOT INVITE!!  I didn't want GRIEF to come and live with me.  I wanted RICK to stay here and live with me and laugh with me and go to Georgia with me and raise our kids with me and enjoy the grandbabies with me.  But, guess, what?  Now, I do all those things with my new guest, GRIEF.  And grief has no predictable pattern.  I've read many books.  I've read many blogs.  I've "met" (via the internet) many widows.  Some young, just like me.  Some newly on the journey.  Some who've journeyed for awhile now.  NONE of our stories are the same.  ALL of our stories are the same . . . get the picture?  GRIEF has come to live with many of us.  Uninvited by all, yet, present in our homes, at our dinner tables, in our bedrooms, on our vacations . . . always there, the SILENT guest.  

So, I have tried and will continue to try not to use my circumstances as a "crutch" to get by.  I will try not to use them to excuse my bad behavior.  I will do my best to function as a mom, a grandma, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a friend, a sister in Christ . . . but sometimes, just sometimes, GRIEF reminds me that "he" is still there.  And sometimes, "he" talks louder than I do.  

I mentioned last night about the 75% loss of friendships that often happens.  I don't want that to be me.  I don't want to lose 75% of my friends!  I don't want to be stuck on an island with just a bunch of widows who "get me" (not that I don't love all of you who I've met and who have been such an encouragement to me!)!  So, I will try!  I will try my best to be "normal" - WHATEVER that is!  I will try my best to honor God in my actions and my reactions.  But please, when my actions and reactions fail, please don't blame that on my God!  There's an old children's song that says, 

"He's still workin' on me.  To make me what I ought to be.  It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient He must be, He's STILL workin' on me!"

And that's true.  I haven't arrived.  I'm an imperfect girl loved by a perfect GOD!  I'll fail Him and you and everyone around me . . . often!  But, HE'S STILL WORKIN' ON ME!

"But I trust in You, O Lord; I say, "You are my God""  Psalm 31:14

4/11/12

true friends ♥


...a friend loveth at all times...Proverbs 17:17

I have read in a couple of different places (Christian books written for widows/widowers) over the last couple of months that after losing a spouse a widow (er) will lose 75% of their friends . . . . OUCH!

That is a statistic that is SCARY!  But, tonight, I was talking to a dear, dear friend who is truly one of my "core" people, and she said something like, "But, those 25% you keep are your real, true friends", I liked that.  No, I LOVED that!  

I'll keep the 25 and lose the 75 if that's the truth.  I think in "severe crisis" like this, you do see people's real colors.  You do find out who really "has your back".  I really believe that unless someone has actually "walked this walk", they CANNOT get it.  In my reading, I also read that the loss of a spouse is unique in that the spousal relationship is the only relationship that the Lord has commanded that the TWO to become ONE.  So, in the loss of that spouse, you really do lose 1/2 of yourself.  You have to find out who the "new" alone you is.  You have to find out where you belong - in a couple's oriented society.  BUT, I have hope in knowing that God has not left me alone!  He will leave me with my 25% (or whatever my number many end up to be!).  He has also left me with HIS promises to care for me.  The Bible mentions widows 103 times.  That means He knew widows would exist.  He knew I would be one of them, and the care of them (me) was important enough to Him to be mentioned 103 times!  That is a comfort as I process my thoughts tonight!  That is comfort as I've had time to be still and listen to Him speaking to me over the past weeks.  That is a comfort as I really begin to sift through my "new" life and who will remain and who will not.  I know that He already knows.  He already is in my tomorrow.  I do not need to fear!  I am thankful that along with the "losses" He has also blessed me with some awesome new friends - one who I had only "met" via Facebook, e-mail, snail mail and texting until this weekend when we had a nice, long chat on the phone - I feel that many more of those will happen in the future!!  Love you, Leah!  ♥

I don't know that I'll really lose 75% of my friends, this is a small town, so that number seems high.  But, I will trust God even in this.  I will trust that those who I really don't "need" will be those who I "lose" and that those who He deems important for my healing and my well being will be those that stay.

Those like my dear friend, Molly, who I just hung up with, and who inspired this post.  I ♥ LOVE ♥ YOU GIRLFRIEND, and am HONORED that you ARE in my 25%!

Yes, "A friend loveth at all times" . . . even when I'm being unreasonable, unloveable, grumpy and just plain "stinky" and God is the friend "that sticks closer than a brother".  Proverbs 18:24

Even though, the loss of friendship is a scary thought, there are so many promises in the Bible that I have GOD, and what can "man" do to me?  I need to trust in the Lord and accept ALL that comes from His hands . . . the gains and the losses - which seem hard to accept at this time, really, more losses?  But, I will trust in the truths of His word, and continue to rest in Him!

"In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me"
Psalm 56:4

"The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Psalm 118:6

"So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me""
Hebrews 13:6


4/10/12

h.o.m.e.

we are home.
a little sunburned.
a LOT, LOT loved on.
a little sad it's already over :(
VERY HAPPY that we were able to go!

THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS, Georgia Ryes! We love you!!

Lots of reading and lots of learning and lots of listening to God and some wise council received by me from Tim & Rochet!!.... More to come, but tonight, I sleep!!

4/8/12

He is RISEN!!

The tomb is empty, His grave clothes are folded neatly and He has risen! Hallelujah!

"Man of sorrows what a name, for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah! What a Savior!"

"Up from the grave He arose! With a mighty triumph o'er His foes, He arose a Victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign... HE AROSE!!!"

I love Easter!

Even more this year than ever!

Easter this year marks all the Hope I have in the Lord!!

Easter is the reason I do not despair!

Easter is the reason my world did not end on November 5! Yes, it did stop for a moment in time and life as I had known it to that moment came to a screeching halt!

BUT, GOD has plans for us beyond that which we can fathom and Easter is the reason we know that our future here on earth is short, but ETERNITY in Heaven is where we are headed! Where we will be reunited with Rick, where our Hope truly is!!

So, Happy Easter it is! Happy because of the gift we were given on that Easter morning 2,000+ years ago! Happy that because of Rick's acceptance of that gift, we know he is alive with Jesus today, all of his earthly "chains" gone! Happy because we have also accepted this gift and will someday meet again in a glorious reunion .... "But until then, my heart will go on singing, until then, with joy I'll carry on!" ... Easter is my hope, and I will carry on, doing what God has for me to do ... "Until that day my eyes behold that city, until that day God calls ME home!"

4/1/12

v.a.c.a.t.i.o.n.

Ah, yes, we made it! And we are only 24 hours in to it, but it has already been amazing!! God has blessed me with amazing FAMILY and 3 beautiful treasures in my daughters! Yes, I am truly blessed!!!!

{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...