11/5/13

Dear Rickey,



From Facebook:

You wrote on Rick Rye's timeline.

“For those who may not know, RICKEY ROGER RYE entered in to HEAVEN's GLORY around 11:00 this morning. The kids and I are struggling to make sense of this loss, but also KNOW that GOD is fully in control of each day of each of our lives and that GOD called Rick HOME today. One day, we are all fully assured that we will see him again in GLORY.”
That was posted by me at  8:44 p.m. on one of the worst days of my life, but in reality, it was the BEST day of Rickey’s life because at 10:55 a.m. that morning 2 years ago, he found himself face-to-face with the GREATEST love of his life, Jesus.  We still struggle to make sense of this loss, but our faith in KNOWING that GOD is fully in control of each day of each of our lives has not wavered.  Until God calls US home, we won’t fully understand why God chose November 5,  2011 to call Rickey home, but we will continue to rest in the assurance that we WILL see him again someday in Glory.

Dear Rickey,

2 years ago this morning, you quietly got out of bed, got ready for work and came around my side of the bed and lightly kissed my right cheek . . . and then you were gone.

Little did I know how precious that kiss would become to me as it was the last one I was ever blessed to receive from you.

You were going over to Clayton's to finish up the roof - so it would be done before hunting season (in 10 days) and you went early enough so you'd be done so we could go up to Dad's camp for the party they'd been planning for months.

I remember so vividly all the events of that morning, bringing Kajsa to meet up with Sarah to go to Appleton, the craft show in Stephenson with Taya, playing on the computer waiting for you to come home . . . it all seems like yesterday . . . it all seems like forever ago.

As I look back, I'm also continuously amazed at GOD's hand in that day.  As I waited for you, I downloaded a couple of books for my Kindle, one entitled "When God Weeps ... Why our Suffering Matters to the Almighty".  Little did I know when I downloaded that book how much I would need the wisdom it contained.  As I sat by the computer, somehow, God blocked my ears to the many sirens that had to have gone past on the highway.  We  ALWAYS hear the sirens here, especially when sitting in the dining room next to the sliding door.  That day I didn't hear any of them.  When you didn't get home, and Taya and I decided to head out and let you drive up later, God did not allow my phone to ring, or my text alert to sound.  I later found that I had missed a text message and a phone call from Mike Borski.   Because of this, when we turned around because "something just didn't feel right", I was able to hear the news from our dear friend and State Trooper, Mike in person, not over the phone.  God allowed Pastor and Bobbi to be immediately available, and Tessa to not have left for work yet.  He allowed Cody and Marlo to be available to meet up with Kajsa's group and bring her back home to us.  He blessed us with the sweetest nurse ever in Erin.  I just know that as terrible as that day was, God put Erin there, at that time to be a blessing to us.  There is so much more, so many little details of how God held us in His precious hands, too many to list each of them.

I've heard many people say that they don't remember the details of tragic events.  I do.  I remember nearly every.single.moment. of that entire day, vividly.  I remember the drive to the hospital making frantic phone calls.  I remember walking into the E.R. and the faces of Pete and Tom who had been the first responders from Mid County Rescue, and I remember the walk to that empty room.  I remember hearing the news from Dr. Stein, Erin's calming presence, family and friends arriving in shock, talking to the transplant co-ordinator, coming home to the empty house full of people.  I remember.  I remember shaking uncontrollably and wondering "what now"?  I remember writing an obituary and planning a funeral that I NEVER wanted to plan.  I remember picking out a place to bury you, and the cold, blustery, snowy day that it happened (the kind of day you LOVED to be hunting in!).

Ah, Rickey, in earthly terms, and in earthly time, you left us WAY TOO SOON.  You lived well and you loved well.  You had no enemies, and you loved God and then the rest of us with your whole  being.  We didn't then, and we don't now understand.  It does not make sense.  You should not have had to leave us so soon.  There is so much you will miss, here on earth.  But, then, I repeat that last part of that last sentence to myself, "here on earth".  For I know without a doubt, that YOU are in Heaven, in Paradise, with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And no matter how much you loved us, and we loved you, if given the opportunity to return to "here on earth", you wouldn't want to.  For the glories that you are experiencing surpass anything that we could imagine.  So, the questions "why" and the sadness of "what ifs", the longing for "just one more day" are ours as humans living "here on earth".  Until we meet you again in glory, we will not, cannot know what you are experiencing.  So, we will continue to grieve.  We will continue to miss you.  We will continue to wish you were here, for the day-to-day and especially on "special days".  But our grief is for ourselves, not for you, for we know that you are happier, and freer than you had ever been, "here on earth".

Besides me, you left behind so many people who loved you dearly.  Your precious Dad and Mom – no parents should have to bury their child.  Your brothers and sisters and their families, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, hunting buddies and card playing partners, all still feel your absence keenly.  And then there are the kids and grandkids.  Oh, Rickey, they love you so much.  They do things to make you proud every single day.  They love me and take care of me, and so much more importantly, they LOVE JESUS.  They are following in your footsteps and serving HIM with all of their lives.  I hate to see them hurting.  I wish this was a pain I could have taken from them, but I cannot.  I can only love, and pray, and be so thankful to you for them.

So today, 2 years after that last good-bye kiss, I just want you to know that not a day goes by that you are not missed.  You will be forever loved.  You were my best friend and my Bud and I know that I will see you again one day.  Until then, I will continue to live life, for I did not die with you that day (though it sure felt like it would have been easier to).  I will laugh, and love again, but you, my dear Rickey will always have a place in my heart, a Rickey shaped hole that only you ever filled.  And someday, we SHALL meet again.

Love you Bud ♥

Forever & Always ♥

10/29/13

still grieving . . . .

"The reality is that you will grieve forever.
You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one;
you will learn to live with it.
You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.
You will be whole again but you will never be the same.  
Nor should you be the same nor would you want to."

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & John Kessler

October 28 - We went out on a date, just the 2 of us, to LaCabana in Menominee.  It was our first time there, and little did we know, our last.  That day, Kajsa learned that she had made the cheer team.  Her Daddy was so proud!  

We never dreamed he'd never see her cheer.

October 29 - The girls and I went to town to run errands and get groceries.  We searched all over for pumpkins to carve.  We finally found some right here in Wallace.  As we left the pumpkin patch, Kajsa slammed her foot in the car door (I still can't figure out how her LEFT foot was slammed in the RIGHT side passenger door - but that's Kajsa!)

Little did we know that this would be the last boo-boo Daddy would console.

October 30 - We went to church.  Like always.  Rickey stood at the door with a smile and a hug for all who entered.

I'm sure nobody there dreamed it would be the last "good morning" hug, smile and hand-shake they'd get from Rickey.

And on we go through the week that lies ahead.

Living in the present, but all too aware of the past.

Someone told me that the second year after loss can be harder than the first. 

They were right in some ways.

The first year is about survival.

The first year was about all the "firsts".  I survived the first Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Easter . . . the first anniversary of when he went to Heaven.  And because they were the "firsts" others remembered them as well.  They were fresh for everyone, we grieved together at times, at times I grieved alone, deeply and agonizingly.

The second year is about reality.  

The second year began . . . I survived the second Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas . . . and by then, I began to realize that this IS real.  This IS my new reality.  The numbness and newness of the grief was no longer there, I began to  "feel" again.  And, even though life HAS moved on, I have felt deeply.  The grief has been deeper and sharper than I imagined, hitting when I least expect it.  The question STILL plagues me . . . why?  I KNOW in my head that God's ways are NOT my ways.  I KNOW that our days are in His hands and were written before even our first breath was taken (Psalm 139), but still . . . why?  It still doesn't make sense.  I still don't understand. This was NOT my plan.  I do my best to "be still and know".  I do my best to remember WHO is in control (and it's surely not me).  But it still hits, some days like a tsunami.  Sudden, unexpected and fierce.  I have cried more tears this year than last.  I have questioned myself more this year than last . . . did I LOVE him enough?  Did he know how much I loved him?  In his death, did I point people to Jesus enough?  The list goes on.

Until I get to Heaven myself, those questions will never be answered.  I will never know how Rickey's life and death may have impacted others.  Until then, I have to continue to trust that GOD, not me is writing my story.

Just this morning, I read a quote on Facebook:

"My life may not be going the way I planned it, but it's going exactly the way God planned it."

So, as this week marches on (as time has a way of doing), I will continue to trust that God's ways are higher than mine.  I will continue to thank Him for my beautiful children who Rickey left to me as a reminder, and a testimony of his life of service to Christ.  I will be ever so thankful that He brought Rick into my life - who so graciously and lovingly understands this strange dance with grief that I do.  For I have learned that grief is not something you ever 'get over', rather, it just takes on different dimensions as time passes.

As C.S. Lewis said:

For in grief nothing 'stays put.'  One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs.  Round and round.  Everything repeats.  Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often -- will it be for always? -- how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, 'I never realized my loss till this moment'?  The same leg is cut off time after time."

Ah, yes, what a perfect metaphor . . . it happens time after time - and each time it's like remembering it anew.

"The reality is that you will grieve forever.
You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one;
you will learn to live with it.
You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.
You will be whole again but you will never be the same.  
Nor should you be the same nor would you want to."

9/4/13

FiNdiNg OuR "New Normal" and the bLeSsiNgS along the way . . .

I started blogging here on November 17, 2011, 12 days after life as I had known it for almost 20 years was changed forever in the blink of an eye.

Since that time I have blogged about many of my feelings through this strange reality that became my life . . . becoming a “widow” (I STILL hate that word) at 45, becoming a suddenly single mom, struggling to know where I now fit in, in this world of couples.  I blogged about the “good”, the “bad” and sometimes the “ugly”.  After one post about the “good”, a comment was left that said, in part, that I was “only happy when things were going my way”.  Wow!  Really?  If you look back to the November 17, 2011 post that listed my husband’s obituary, I’d say that’s not really life “going my way”.  “My way” would have included at least 20 more years of living life together, at least 20 more years of seeing the grandchildren we had grow up, at least 20 more years together of seeing the girls graduate from high school, go to college, get married, have children, AT LEAST 20 more years of living with and loving my best friend.   However, even though life did not go “my way”, I CHOSE to trust what it says in Isaiah 55:8, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,  neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord” and stake my claim on God’s promises that nothing that ever touched my life was out of His control or out of His Divine plan.  Some days that knowledge helped, some days it didn’t.  Still I trusted.

As unbelievable as it seemed on November 17, 2011, life did move on, and in His timing, God did allow me to find love again, a new love, a new chapter in this book of my life.  Not a new book to replace the years, the love, the memories, the laughter, the AMAZING children or the life Rickey and I shared, just a new chapter in the big story called my life.  For, as hard as it was to accept that Rickey’s life on earth ended on November 5, 2011, mine did not, and God was and is still writing my story.

For those who may think that in moving on, I have forgotten, let me share a quick little story with you.  About a year ago, I blogged about how people tended to remember us on the big days; Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, birthdays, Tessa’s graduation . . . but that those days to me weren’t the hardest because I knew they were coming and I could prepare for them . . . I could mentally become strong before they arrived and therefore, I could stand strong and survive them.  It was the “little” days, the days that meant something to us, not others that hit the hardest . . . and still do.

This post has been a month in coming as I have processed my thoughts and feelings ... you see, the first weekend in August is the Waterfront Festival in town, a weekend that for us as a family was a "tradition" . . . one of those "little" days in the eyes of others, but a "BIG" day in my memories.  This year, as I drove to work on that Saturday night just after the fireworks ended, I was FLOODED with those memories and moments.  I remembered all the years of going to the fireworks at Waterfront on Saturday night.  We went even before the girls were born.  For years we met my friend Jayne, her husband, Clark, and their kids there.  One of the first years we went, Rickey and Kaylyn (Jayne’s daughter) snuggled up under a blanket eating caramel corn because she was scared of the fireworks, and by the end of the evening she was having a blast!  The tradition continued throughout the years, we always brought Kaylyn caramel corn when we went to the fireworks – even after she was grown up and married (Kaylyn even brought a box of Crunch 'n Munch to Rickey's funeral).  And then, life hit.  Jayne was diagnosed with cancer.  Our years of fireworks ended and unbelievably, Jayne died.  Way too soon.  Way too young.  Would Waterfront fireworks ever be the same without  her infectious laughter punctuating the beauty of the fireworks? (The answer to that question is no, they will never be the same, but I'll ALWAYS remember that infectious laugh!) . . .  We never dreamed that Rickey would follow so quickly after Jayne.  As I continued my ride into work, and reminisced, I saw the lawn chairs and blankets spread, staking claim to spectator’s spots for the parade to be held in the morning.  I remembered driving home from fireworks, doing the same, staking our claim, holding our spot, where we’d watch the parade, collect candy, and again, visit with Jayne and her family.  Oh, the memories . . . a “family tradition” that wasn’t like the Christmas /Thanksgiving/Easter tradition.  This was a tradition that was unknown to most people, yet a tradition to us.  Another part of life that no longer was and we could never get it back.  Not only is Jayne gone, but so is Rickey.  Both of them taken way too soon for those of us left behind.  Yes, those memories hit.  They hit when they are least expected, and sometimes, it’s like a tsunami.  One foot still somewhat in the past, the rest of me living the here and now.  It’s still a difficult dance, it’s still a tightrope of emotions.

August also brings not only Jayne's Birthday, but Rickey's as well . . . MORE MEMORIES to sift through, to try to reconcile with our new reality . . . memories of days gone past, birthday celebrations that will not come again . . . more walking on that tightrope of emotions.

So, yes, the memories still hit.  Sometimes fiercely.  Sometimes when least expected.  Sometimes out of the blue with no warning at all.  In those times, I’m so very thankful that God DID bless me with Rick.  Rick, who listens when I need to ramble on about the past.  Rick who totally gets that his love to me is such a blessing for the here and now, yet understands that my love for Rickey was also true and for always.  Before I met Rick, I was told by my sweet sister-in-law Rochet that it would take a special man to come into my life, for he would have to understand that unique dynamic in my life.  The fact that Rickey’s love for me and mine for him did not die on November 5, 2011, it just took on a new dimension.  I wasn’t sure what she meant at the time, and I wasn’t sure that there would be someone out there who could understand that dynamic but, Rick does!  He loves me and the girls and would do anything for us (his exact words when I asked him how much he loves the girls is that he would "take a bullet for them"),  yet he understands that Rickey did not leave us willfully to cause us pain.  He understands that our marriage, our life together on this earth did not end because of bitterness and anger as is often the case in divorce, rather that Rickey heard God calling his name, and he said, “Yes, Lord, I’m coming home”, here one moment, and opening his eyes in Paradise the next moment.  Rick understands that he’s the new chapter in this book, along this journey called life.  He not only understands the crazy dynamics of my life but he helps me to cherish the memories, as well as enjoying making new memories in this chapter.   My love for him does not diminish the love I shared with Rickey, it just makes the “where I am now” amazing!


Because of this, I have decided to start a new blog.  I will keep this one open, this place that I pray shares Rickey's legacy, and when I have thoughts and feelings and emotions that would be best addressed here, I will post here.  

But, the things that happen in our new chapter need their own chapter.  This blog IS Rickey’s legacy, and should stay that way.  My new blog is {appropriately, I think} titled “Blessings for the Journey”  (if you click on the name, you will find it!) . . . a continuation of this blog, “Our Journey to a New Normal”.  For despite the heartache and difficulty, we ARE finding a "new normal" and we have seen the blessings that the Lord sends our way.  If you want, you can join us on this new leg of our journey, we’d love to have you come along!

8/18/13



August 18 . . . 8/18 . . . as I wrote that date at work today, I wanted to complete it 8/18/56, because for YEARS that is the date I filled in on any type of form that required Rickey's date of birth.  Two years ago, we celebrated him "turning the speed limit" when he turned 55.  Who would have EVER dreamed on that sunny August day that 2 1/2 months later, we would be saying good-bye and that Rickey would forever be 55 in our minds?
 
So today, this day again filled with SO MANY memories of birthdays gone by, my Birthday wish to Rickey is this:

"Happy Birthday, Bud.  I can't believe that you are spending your 2nd Birthday in HEAVEN.  I'm pretty sure that days like this don't mean much when compared to the splendors of Heaven, but today, on earth, we will still celebrate YOU!  Though our human minds will NEVER grasp the reason that you had to leave us so soon, we WILL rest in the confidence that God does not make mistakes.  We might not like what happens, but we will continue to trust that HE is in control. You would be SO PROUD of the kids.  Nick and Ashley (and Ashley and Brian) are amazing parents to all the grand-kids and they have been THE BEST big brother and sister - loving on and helping to take care of the "little" girls!!  And the "little" girls, my goodness, you would be surprised at how they have grown!  I am reminded EVERY DAY of how blessed I am that they call me mom, and that you left these 3 treasures to me!  Your legacy truly does live on through them.  They are amazing young women whose faith in God has not wavered despite all they have been through!  Your unwavering faith in our unfailing God lives on through them and their big brother & sister!  Not a day goes by that we don't think about you and miss you, and thank God that your life was a reflection of your love for the Lord and through your testimony, we KNOW that we KNOW that we KNOW where you are for all eternity and we KNOW that we WILL see you again someday.  Thank you for loving us well while you were here and for giving us the strength we would need to move forward without you.  You were an AMAZING husband, Daddy, Papa, Uncle, Son, Brother & Friend.  Everyone who ever met you was better for having known you!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUD! With my love ♥"

3/5/13



When I first started blogging, I met my sweet friend Leah (you can check out her blog HERE ) through another blog for widows called "A Widow's Might".  Leah and I became good friends even though we live states apart.  We keep in touch via Facebook, texts, e-mails and the occasional phone call.  She was exactly 6 months and 1 day ahead of me in her "journey" of being a widow, so she was my inspiration, "if Leah can do it, so can I"!!

This past week, I was honored to receive an e-mail from Kit, from "A Widow's Might" asking me to guest post for her.  My prayer since Rickey died has been that I can show others the light and life and restoration that is available through Jesus!  You can read my first guest post there by clicking HERE.

I'm so thankful that God CAN turn my ashes to His beauty, and pray that He may be glorified, and others encouraged in Him through my testimony of His faithfulness!  

Thank you too, to Rick, your encouragement and support for me in this adventure is beyond amazing, and I LOVE YOU! ♥

2/25/13

. . . Lord willing

January 2014 . . . 


Starting the process . . . 
(Rick has a passport, I do not)


a picture IS worth 1,000 words!!
(and more!)


Robin and one of his new friends . . . 
we will be traveling with Robin and others! :) 


My sweet friend Jen . . . proving that love has no "color"


Game time . . . :)


The Summer 2012 "Travel Team" 


A map of Liberia, Africa!  :)
See Yekepa . . . ??!! :)


Where in Africa is Liberia . . . Right THERE 
(in yellow)!!


"A" is Chicago, Illinois (where we fly out of)
"B" is Monrovia, Liberia, Africa (where we fly in to)!


Please pray with us as we begin this "journey" . . . 
We will be saving money (big time), doing some fundraising
and looking for financial support . . . 
Right now, though, the biggest gift you can give us is your
prayer support!!

So excited to see what GOD has in store!

Exodus 3:12 . . . 
"He said, "but I will be with you"!"






2/19/13

what is contentment?


I remember my life being all nice and tidy.  Easy {basically} and

carefree.  The kind of life that appears to be a pretty package,
wrapped up in a pretty bow.  A very contented life.





I can list the blessings easily!



Married to my best friend.

Three beautiful/well behaved daughters.

Two amazing  step kids, their spouses and the grandbabies.

A nice home – with an awesome yard … and a swimming pool!

Enough money to pay bills and a little extra for enjoyment.

Reliable vehicles.

Family nearby.

Jobs we liked.

A great church family.

Wonderful friends.



I could continue all day – there were SO MANY BLESSINGS!  We were
content, so very content and blessed!



Our lives had been touched by very little tragedy.  Despite some
health scares, cancer/heart attacks/accidents with our parents, all 4
of them were alive and doing quite well – our kids had all 4
grandparents to love on them.  We and our siblings & sibling-in-laws
were basically healthy.  Our children and grandchildren were healthy.
We hadn’t faced much adversity in our lives, compared to many people we knew.



Nice.



Neat.



Tidy.



Content.



Very easy to be content in those circumstances!



Tragedy happened to other people, not us.  Our lives were blessed.
Our existence WAS a nice little package wrapped up in a pretty bow.
Our days, though not completely taken for granted, were assumed to be
a gift that would go on indefinitely . . . and then, and then, we
experienced November 5, 2011.



Nothing about that day was nice.  

Or neat.  

Or tidy.  

Or content.

Blessings didn’t seem to be a reality.  There was no more pretty
package, wrapped up in a pretty bow.  It was all gone – in a moment,
in the blink of an eye.  With a police car in the driveway, and six
words spoken from the Dr.'s lips, "I'm sorry, Rickey didn't make it"
the pretty package and my heart was shattered.


Somehow, in those moments following the news, I found a strength in
God that I truly didn’t know existed.  A strength that I knew came
only from Him, for in and of myself, I could have not done it.  I
truly lived the days that followed being the person in the
“Footprints” poem . . . the person who, when they look back on their life,
asks God “Why is there only one set of footprints in the sand?”, and the
Lord answers, “It was then that I carried you”.  Yes, God carried me,
and I drew strength for every breath from Him.



I trusted in the words from the book of Job that say, “The Lord gave
and the Lord has taken away, may the name of the Lord be praised”.



Before November 5, 2011, I trusted God.  I knew He was my Savior.  I
had become a Christian as a child at vacation Bible School and was
baptized along with Rickey just years before he died.  I knew the
Sunday School songs and Bible stories.  I had memorized Bible verses
and hidden them in my heart.  But, it was nice, neat, tidy, contented
Christianity.  It’s so easy to believe when it’s all going well, but
to keep on believing when your bottom drops out . . . I realized it
was a conscious choice I had to make – either I believed it all, or I
didn’t.  Many would have not blamed me for losing faith in a God who
could shatter my dreams so quickly.  However, if I chose to blame God,
and lose faith in Him, I removed any peace in my mind that Rickey
truly was in Heaven.  In that moment, I chose to believe, and I
believe God blessed that decision with His peace that did pass
understanding.  It didn't always come as easily as it sounds here on
"paper", but the peace was there, and it certainly did pass
understanding.




Life continued to move forward, God continued to write my story.  As the saying goes, “life goes on”.
Even in the midst of trial and tribulation, life still had a
“contentment” factor.  Home was still home, familiar was still all
around me.  God moved in my heart and life, and He {thankfully} didn’t “move” me
{out of my comfort zone, per se} . . . thankfully, I thought . . .
until He started to move this past summer.  It started when I took a
new job, resigned my old one, and then had the new job offer rescinded . . . I blogged
about that back in July {re-read about it HERE!}.  But, God . . . but God had bigger, better
plans, plans for a job with more hours, more money and better
benefits.  I just had to TRUST.  I had to be CONTENT in HIM.



I’d always prayed that I could be “used of God” {but in the back of my
mind, it was, “God, please use me, where I am.  I don’t really want to
give it all to you because you might make me do something I don’t want
to . . . missions trips – no,those aren't really my "thing", moving away from home – no,
aboslutely not - everything here is normal, familiar, COMFORTABLE, loving the
“unloveable” – no, I'll love those who love me in return - and fit my "mold"
 . . . or You might take something FROM me (a parent,
a child, my spouse)}.  My commitment to Christ was conditional upon
my wants and wishes.  I’ll let you have me God, as long as I can still
be content.  As long as my life can still be nice and neat and tidy.
After Rickey's accident, I still prayed to be used, but, again, too
much had just changed, please Lord, don’t ask me for any more change.
I’ll serve You, right here, right where I am.





And then our church went on a mission trip.  To LIBERIA.  AFRICA.
Half way around the world.  A trip that I discouraged my girls from
going on.  A trip I would have NEVER gone on.  A trip that as plans
were being made, and Rickey and I discussed them, I didn’t agree with.
 “Just think how much they could do in Africa with the THOUSANDS of dollars we {as a church}
are spending on plane tickets and travel arrangements for the “travel
team”.  I just don’t get it”.  

And then the “travel team” went on the trip.  
One of my best friends went on the trip.  

We cried together {sobbed, actully} in
each other’s arms at the farewell service, emotion was raw- for me it was ANOTHER goodbye}.

The trip was amazing.  

Lives were changed – in orphans in a tiny village in Africa.
In the lives of the “travel team”.
And maybe more unexpectedly in the lives of the
“home team” who prayed and waited anxiously for updates from what had
now become “our” missions trip.  

I STARTED to change.  

I started to realize that the world was really much bigger than Wallace, Michigan.



About that time, God also brought love back into my life.  He blessed
me with Rick.  He showed me that there was "hope for my future".

He let me be "content" again . . .





Keith Green, one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian music had a
song about missions, and I could NOT get the song out of my mind around the time of the missions trip . . . 
one line of the song says, 

“How about me not
sending my money this time, how about me going?  It's so easy to write
checks, it's so easy, but God can't cash out of state checks in
heaven. He needs you!”  

Ouch!  It’s SO MUCH EASIER to write a check,
to give an offering, to buy a “shoebox” gift at Christmas to send to
Liberia . . . but is that what God really wants?



The missions trip got me thinking.  Meeting and falling in love again
got me thinking.  I got to thinking about life, and how short it can
be.  About how I limit myself, because I have a comfort zone. 
 Because I am content.
Too content maybe.



Last Sunday, as I was sitting in church, I realized that I’m not really
content, and it’s not in the worldly sense that I feel that way.  I’m
not “dis-content” because I want “more” of the American dream.  Sure,
we would all like more money, nicer cars, bigger homes,
more/prettier/trendier clothes, nice jewelry, hair, makeup, teeth . .
. but that’s not what I’m getting at.  I feel like I am not content
because I feel like God has something MORE He wants me to do.  What it
is, I’m not sure.  It’s kind of a scary feeling.  He COULD want me to
live in a hut in Africa.  He could want me to move away from “home”
and family and everything that is comfortable to me.  Or He could just
want to use me right where I am to encourage others
as He has encouraged and strengthened me.  I’m not sure, I just know that I
want to trust Him for all of my tomorrows.  I want to be HIS
missionary wherever He puts me.  Rick and I have talked about it.  He
gets it.  He has the same feeling . . . God has something for us to
do, we just aren’t sure exactly WHAT it is . . . so we will continue
to look to Him for guidance.  We will continue to trust His leading in
our lives.  We will see what tomorrow brings and we will try not to
get too “content”, until we feel that we are exactly where He wants
us!  I know that whatever God has planned, He will be there in the
midst of it.  I have learned through adversity, and trial and tears
that He will sustain.  So, I will continue to trust in His leading.

As our church plans
another missions trip to Liberia next January, my heart doesn’t scream
“No” like it did in the past . . . rather, I get excited!!

Should I get my passport?

Should I be putting MORE moneyinto that “LIBERIA” jar in the kitchen 
that we started after the trip this past summer,
“just in case” anyone {the girls} wants to go next time?
I can tell you that ALL spare change goes into that jar - with a sense of anticipation
now days!  When the girls owe me money for something they bought with our credit card
on-line, the money goes into the Liberia jar . . . it is ALWAYS in the back of my mind!





The Brandon Heath song “Wait and See” says in part:



Still wonerin’ why I’m here.
Still wrestling with my fear
But oh . . .
He’s up to something,
And the farther out I go,
I’ve seen enough to know that I’m not here for nothin’
He’s up to somethin’



There is hope, for me yet,
because God won’t forget,
all the plans He’s made for me
I have to wait and see,
He’s not finished with me yet,
He’s not finished with me yet!



Our “couple’s devotional” book had a devotion the other day {I just LOVE
how God's timing works, don’t you?} and the last paragraph read, in part:

“…real happiness comes when I’m willing to humble myself and do what
He wills with my life.  The process may be painful, but it also brings
real joy,”

On my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, was this advice for marriage:

"Embrace God's purpose for your marriage.  God has a mission
for you and your spouse to fulfill.  It is the same mission that
He has given the Church corporately and every single Christian individually.
God's design is for your marriage to be used to impact others 
with the gospel of Christ through evangelism and discipleship.  
You can never have a truly fulfilling marriage if you don't embrace this principle."

At every turn lately, I am challenged with trusting Him for His direction in my life.
I am challenged to not be content to just live my contented, easy life.
I am challenged and encouraged that He has something bigger, something more 
that He is calling me to do!  I am challenged to follow His will and not mine.



On November 5, 2011, I had no choice but to allow His will in my life.
The process was painful – more painful than anything I could haveever
imagined – yet as I posted on Friday, there has been “beauty from the
ashes”.  This does allow me to trust my future to God knowing that He
is in control and He has a plan that is bigger than any that I may
ever have or dream!  

Liberia missions trip?  
We aren’t sure yet - but it is looking more likely all the time!
We will keep adding money to that jar and listening for that 
"still small voice".

And, after that?  I’m not sure what happens after that, {or before that, for that matter!}
but I know that I’ll {we'll} keep looking to Him, 
and keep trusting Him, and do our best to
follow His leading . . . for only there will there be true contentment!



Philippians 4:12-13:   “I know what it is to be in need, and I know
what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content
in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living
in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me
strength.”