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.”

2/16/13




February 14 . . . .

Ahhhh, the day of hearts and romance.

Or, a Hallmark holiday?

Perhaps a little of both?

This year, it was a day of conflicting emotions.  
An “emotional roller-coaster” if you will.  

For those of you who don’t know,
February 14 is not only Valentine’s Day, but mine and Rickey’s
anniversary.  It seemed the PERFECT day to be married 21+ years ago.
Romance was in the air.  Forever stretched out before us.  We would
grow old together, and he would not have to remember 2 special days,
we’d “kill 2 birds with one stone”.  So sweet.  Except that our
forever was cut way too short and we never got the chance to grow old together.  

So our anniversary, a day which is usually celebrated
mostly by the couple who has reason to celebrate, is also shared with
a day that receives much attention . . . in the candy aisle in any
store, in the card section of any store, on T.V., almost everywhere
you look.  Facebook {at least mine} was filled with pictures of the
flowers, and candies, and balloons and stuffed animals and jewelry
that everyone got from their Valentine . . . constant reminders that
this Valentine’s Day, Rickey and I would have been celebrating 21
years of being married.

But, we weren’t celebrating, because he is not here to celebrate with me.
 
He celebrated his 2nd Valentine’s Day in the place filled with more
love than any of us can ever imagine!  That’s the “To live is Christ
and to die is gain” truth . . . Valentine’s Day in Heaven has to be
the picture of perfect LOVE!

And therein lie the conflicting emotions.  

Rickey died on November 5, 2011. 
I did not {though I certainly felt like I might for weeks and
months afterwards}.  

Rickey was buried on November 9, 2011.  
I was not {though part of me was buried with him}.  

I did not stop loving Rickey on November 5, 2011, or on November 9, 2011, 
or even in July 2012 when God brought Rick into my life.  
And as hard as it is to believe or understand {unless you have ever “been there},
I did not stop loving Rickey on October 1 when Rick and I were married.  
If you have more than one child, 
you know that when the 2nd {or 3rd, or 10th} child comes along, 
your heart just somehow makes room for more.
  
That is the only way I can describe the work that God did in my heart when he
brought Rick to me.  God brought beauty from ashes and allowed me
happiness and love again.  He did not erase the memories of love and
laughter and a wonderful life with Rickey, He just opened my heart to allow for more.

In the weeks leading up to this Valentine’s Day, Rick and I agreed, 
“It’s just a Hallmark holiday”, 
“We love each other every day, we don’t need a special day to show it”, 
"We agree, let’s not do anything special for Valentine’s Day”. 
  
We didn’t verbalize the fact that it was a day
of “other” importance, we just let that be left unsaid, the proverbial elephant in the room.

All was fine, up until Feburary 14.  Actually, I woke up still
thinking all was fine {though my sweet Mama had sent me a Facebook
message the night before loving on me a little and acknowledging the
conflicting emotions that were sure to exist}.  I put out the dogs,
fed and watered them, the cats and the ferret.  I cleaned litter boxes
and bagged up garbage – reminding myself the whole time to “Do small
things with great love” – the lesson I had been working on the past
couple of weeks.  I started the coffee and brought a cup to Rick.  I
used the leftover Christmas “snow” to put a heart on the patio doors.
It was all good.  Until Rick took his cup of coffee and sat down at
the kitchen table and asked me to join him. 
And I lost it.

I sat down with him and we talked and I cried.  
I knew then that I’d be “on edge” for most of the day . . .
just because.  
I got a couple of text/Facebook messages from some friends who were so very
understanding of the mixed emotions of the day.  It is a day that I
described as having one foot in the past and one foot in the present.

The marriage that I had to Rickey did not end in a bitter divorce with
nasty fights over money and possessions and child custody.  Rather, it
ended sadly, with 6 words from a Dr. in the hospital E.R.  Because of
that, my memories of our anniversary and our marriage are tender and
loving, laced with happiness and sorrow all at the same time.

I was told that if I were to ever remarry, the person who I married
would have to be very special, because they would have to understand
those dynamics.  Rick is very special as he does understand those
dynamics, sometimes better than I understand them myself.  He is very
tender to the dance that I sometimes dance with the past and the present.

The day continued on, rather uneventfully.  I had work to do for the
township, Rick had a client at the gym in the morning and then CPR at the hospital.
He came home with his hands full of teddy bears and flowers – for the
girls and then he and the girls helped with supper as I continued to
work on my township business.  After supper, he and the girls headed
to town, he to soccer and the girls to a movie and I went to my township meeting.

When we were all back home again, and the girls were settled in bed,
we had a chance to talk . . . I said that he was more quiet than
usual, to which he responded, “Today was weird.  
And the more it went on, the weirder it got.”  
How’s that for honesty?  But, he was right.
It was weird – one foot in the past and one in the present.  And
subconsciously, we tried to ignore the day.  In all ways.  In
retrospect, probably not the best idea.  We’ll probably do it
differently next year. 

"He will give . . . praise instead of despair"  Isaiah 61:3

You learn as you go in this journey to a new normal . . .

{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...