11/5/15

... by grace ... through faith ... in Christ ...

On this day, memories are at the forefront of our thoughts, as we remember this day 4 years ago, and a million other little memories of days "before" and days "after". This year, my memories are sweeter, tears are a little less "sorrow"ful {time does bring that healing}, and God's grace in our life is so still so very evident! 

God in His lovingkindness blessed me with Rick, and has allowed me to love again! He {and God!} are my strength on days like this, and though the emotions are "weird" {living in the present, with memories of the past so close to the surface}, we talk and we pray and he {and God!} help me get through! 

If you sent a text, a Facebook message, a note, or shared hugs & kind words today THANK YOU!  Thank you for remembering and reaching out to us!  Rickey loved well and was loved, that is still very evident! 

I had another post ready for tonight, but I realized that nothing I say really matters unless it points you to the real reason for our HOPE in CHRIST! Since the day Rickey died, I have prayed that his death would draw others to the Lord. I know that on that beautiful November day 4 years ago, when Rickey breathed his last breath on this earth, he was IMMEDIATELY face to face with his Savior and Lord, and I know that he was more than ready for that moment! I also know that his greatest wish would be to greet each one of you in Heaven some day!  There is only one way that you can be sure of that, and I believe that a post I wrote just days after Rickey died explains best how he knew where he was going when he died, how we know where he is and where we are going and how you can have that same assurance!
"I would be failing my Lord and Rickey’s legacy if I didn’t take a minute or two here to let you know how Rick (and we) have the assurance of eternity in Heaven after our time on earth is done (and how you can know the same if you aren’t sure)!

Simply put: “For God so loved the world that He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”.  John 3:16

However, we can’t just end there, because I think there are some things that may be “assumed” if I just use this verse alone to point you to Jesus.

First of all, if I were able to talk to most (if not all) of you reading my blog, I’m thinking that the majority would say that they “believe” in Jesus, God, Heaven and Hell. There-in lies a problem because, James 2:19 says, “even the demons believe – and shudder”.  So, "belief" alone, obviously isn't enough, if even the demons believe - and SHUDDER!

I also think that most of us would say that we are “good” people (and Rickey surely was a GOOD man - as his brother in law said once, Rickey is so nice - you could stand on his tongue and he wouldn't get mad - and that was a very accurate assessment of Rickey's mellow personality!), but, the Bible says “ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Romans 3:23

…. But, I’m not a murder or a thief, I'm not addicted to pornography, I'm not an alcoholic, don't do drugs (or any one of the MANY excuses we can make to help us feel better about ourselves). . . . , LOTS of people do MUCH worse things than I do - you may be thinking . . .But, wait, Romans 6:23 says, “For the WAGES of sin is DEATH, but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

So, if ALL have sinned and the wages of sin is DEATH (which in this sense means ETERNAL separation from God for all eternity), that pretty much covers every one of us.  All is a word that leaves NO doubt, it doesn’t say “some” have sinned, or “most” have sinned, it says ALL have sinned – ALL, EVERYONE, EVERY SINGLE HUMAN BEING WHO HAS EVER LIVED . . . that’s you, that’s me, that was Rickey.

Now that we’ve established that we ALL are sinners, what is the penalty for that sin?  According to Romans 6:23, the wages, the PAYMENT for sin is DEATH – eternal separation from God in hell.  But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  GIFT as defined by dictionary.com is “something given voluntarily without payment in return,

Romans 5:8 tells us that, “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse ties in with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He GAVE . . . “ He gave (“gave”, FREELY, a “GIFT”), His ONLY son that WHILE WE (all) were still sinners, “CHRIST DIED FOR US”.  He (God) GAVE the ULTIMATE gift, He gave His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, while we were sinners, and that ultimate gift, His only SON DIED for us . . . while we were yet sinners.  WOW!  I LOVE giving gifts as much as I enjoy receiving them.  I LOVE to show the kids my LOVE by giving them gifts, but to give a gift to someone who doesn’t love me in return, who in fact hates me?  That puts it into a whole new perspective.  Yet, that is exactly what happened when CHRIST DIED FOR us.  He did that WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS (while we still “hated” Him, while we were still His enemies). 

At this point in the story, we all have a choice to make.  We can believe and embrace this truth and ACCEPT this FREE gift, or we can deny it and turn our backs on God and the promises He makes to us – the choice is up to you.  The Bible says, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  That’s another one of those “all” words!  EVERYONE who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 

Rickey and I had several conversations about the moment when we each “called upon the name of the Lord”.  He very vividly remembered watching a Billy Graham crusade as a child and making the conscious decision that he WAS a sinner and he needed the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He, at that point called upon the name of the Lord and invited Christ to live in his heart and reign over his life.  He put his old sin nature to death at that moment, and was brought forever into God’s glorious kingdom!  That is the REASON we as his family have HOPE for the future.  I remember the day that I prayed that same prayer at VBS one summer and the girls all remember the moment they asked the Lord into their hearts, Tessa at home in the living room with me, and Taya & Kajsa with their Daddy – what precious memories, and a GLORIOUS hope for the future!  We WILL all some day be reunited – it is a PROMISE.

We are also told in the Bible that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”  Romans 10:9-10.  Rickey and I had the privilege of “confessing” with our mouth before our church family that we were saved and were baptized along with our best friends, Jim & Donna, and several others on Superbowl Sunday several years ago.  We do NOT believe that the baptism is what “saved” us, it was our trust in the Lord, the asking Him to be our Savior and rule over our hearts and minds that gave us that free gift of eternal life, the baptism was the just “outward” confessing, the professing to others that we were children of God.  It is the symbolism of being “buried with Him” (when you go under the water) and being “raised up again with Him in newness of life”) as you are brought back up from the water).  Rickey and I also had the honor of attending the baptism of all 3 girls out at Lake Lundgren Bible Camp on Labor Day 2010.  Tessa was baptized by one of the leaders, Sponz, who mentored her during LDC (Leadership Development Camp) that summer, and Taya & Kajsa were baptized Mama Ruth's husband, Mike.  It was a beautiful day and one that I will not forget, and I'm so thankful that it is a day we got to celebrate together as a family!

So, that in a somewhat abbreviated form is the WHY we have HOPE in the future, WHY the night we welcomed 600+ people at the funeral home, we were CELEBRATING Rick's life. This is it . . . we were celebrating his life here on earth - the 55 years that the Lord blessed him with, and blessed us with for having had such a wonderful person in our lives!  But, we were also (and more importantly) celebrating the fact that Rickey was more alive than ever that day - safe in his FOREVER home with Jesus in Heaven . . . the place that have the assurance that some day, we will be reunited, when the Lord calls us home.♥

Psalm 139:16 "Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me,  when as yet there was none of them (IN YOUR BOOK WERE WRITTEN EVERY ONE OF THEM THE DAYS THAT WERE FORMED FOR ME - that tells me that God planned Rickey's life, from 1st breath to last).  I CHOOSE daily to embrace what I have been given - to love just a little bit better, forgive more quickly and make each moment count."

If after reading this, you aren't sure, or you have questions, please open your Bible, check out some of the scriptures I referenced, message me, or a Pastor, or a Christian friend! My greatest joy on this day would be knowing that because of Rickey's legacy, one more person is assured of their eternal home in Heaven!  ♥

10/19/15

... he turned 12 ...

You see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this was real to him.



"Let's check out the church at the homeless shelter" he said, like it was no big deal. And to him it wasn't, yet it was. You see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this was real to him.

To me, it was an even bigger deal, but not for the same reasons. Me? I'd grown up in your typical, mid-western, middle-class family. Dad worked, mom stayed home for our elementary school years, we kids went to public school, and my family attended church - every.time.the.doors.were.open. I had my view of how life was inside my own little safe world, inside my own little safe walls, inside my little "box" of safe Christianity. But the world wasn't as safe as I believed, he was helping me to see. You see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this was real to him.

I'd helped out at the Milwaukee Mission on a youth missions trip and we had even visited Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. I did my part in helping the "underprivileged", or so I thought. Besides, I lived in the U.P. and there wasn't a homeless problem here. I didn't know anyone who was or had ever been homeless {I didn't think} and then I met "him" and I married "him" and three years into our marriage he wanted to get involved in the homeless shelter, because he knew what it was like, he had been there. You see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this was real to him.

Suddenly, it started to become real to me. The homeless, those less fortunate than me; raised in my safe environment; suddenly had a face, and that face was the face of the man I loved. You see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this was real to him and it was becoming real to me.

So, we went to church, the church at the homeless shelter. And I was scared. I was scared because I knew that in my heart, I thought I was better than those who sat down to worship God with me that day. I was scared because I knew that though I "talked the talk", I didn't do very well with "walking the walk". I was scared because all those people, those people at the mission, they looked just like me. They talked like me. Many had wives, husbands, children, just like me. The children, they were loved fiercely by their parents, just as I love my children, and those children, suddenly, those children had a face. They had the face of the man I loved, as a 12 year old, unsure of what his future held, you see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this was real to him.

I wish I could say that my heart was changed after that first visit, but in addition to being raised a sheltered Yooper {for which I'm thankful!}, I'm also a stubborn Scandinavian, and I was still digging in my heels. I believed in what the Mission was doing, I even applauded it and supported it, but I did not see the need to become personally involved, I didn't know why I had to be there, I wanted to be back where it was safe, and familiar, and everyone else was just.like.me. 

But, you see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, and this was real to him so we returned the next Sunday, and the next and the next. We helped distribute food to the community, thousands of pounds of food - all gone in an hour and 1/2. We served the community alongside residents of the homeless shelter. People coming for food didn't know who was a resident of the shelter and who wasn't, and you know what?  It didn't matter. We were all just "God's kids" lending a helping hand to others in need. And, when it comes down to it, isn't it true that we are all in need?  Some of us may have financial/housing needs, like those who come to the shelter.  Others may have physical needs and still others may have needs that are more invisible, but still exist. We may struggle with our emotions, our marriages, family relationships, addictions, or mental health. We may battle insecurity or fear.

As we became more involved, we realized through our attendance at City Council and Planning Commission meetings that there is some opposition to the shelter.  There is fear of the shelter, and of the men, women and children who live there.  There is concern about drugs, and alcohol, felons and sexual predators. I do not want to disregard any of those concerns, but after having been at the shelter, I do have to ask, have those with fears/concerns ever attended a Sunday morning worship service at the Abundant Life Church? Have those with fears/concerns visited the shelter? Have those with fears/concerns volunteered and hour or two or ten, and gotten to know Pastor Dave, the staff and the residents? Have those with fears/concerns stopped to think that drugs, and alcohol, felons and sexual predators will still exist even if they put a stop to the shelter?  Have those with fears/concerns ever really thought about their own struggles, have they ever realized that at the end of the day, when you really look at it, we aren't really so different after all, are we? Some of us may have financial/housing needs, like those who come to the shelter.  Others may have physical needs and still others may have needs that are more invisible, but still exist. We may struggle with our emotions, our marriages, family relationships, addictions, or mental health. We may battle insecurity or fear. None of us has it "all together" and at some point, we all need a little help in this thing called life. He helped me to see that despite all our differences, we still have similarities for, you see, he turned 12 in a homeless shelter, this is real to him and it should be real to all of us!

9/11/15

{never forget}


"I'll just catch the news quick before taking Tessa to school" I thought as I clicked on the tiny little TV on top of the hutch in the kitchen.

The local news appeared to be over when the TV came to life and instead of seeing the normal Fox 11 morning news cast, I was watching a live broadcast of the "terrible accident" that had just happened in New York City as an airplane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers just moments before.  I, along with countless others across the nation and the world watched in horror as the reality sunk in that this may have been far more than a "terrible accident" as on live TV, we saw the 2nd plane hit the south tower. I remember in that moment, I whispered, "Lord, come quickly".

I didn't know what was happening, or what would happen, but I knew it just didn't feel right and that 2 planes flying into 2 buildings couldn't be just an accident. I packed up the girls and brought Tessa to school. Having arrived early to start the day, her teacher was still unaware of the events unfolding outside of the quiet little country school Tessa attended and I headed home to watch the news as more events unfolded.

I remember as I grew up, I'd heard stories from my parents about where they were when JFK was shot, when they heard Elvis died {we were on vacation in our little Red VW Beetle and heard it on the radio}.  I remember sitting in PE class hearing that Ronald Reagan had been shot {I was a Freshman in High School} and I remember where I was when the Challenger exploded {2 years out of High School, working the drive up at First National Bank}. It's true that events like this are forever etched into your memory.

I was scheduled to work at the Sub Shop next to the High School that day, so I dropped the "littles" off and went to work where I found my boss, also glued to the little TV in the back prep room/kitchen.  Tammy's good friend was a stewardess and worked flights in the path of those directly affected by the events of the day.Tammy had not been able to make contact with Julie, and we worried about her together as we made mozzarella bread and sub sandwiches for the students who came over on their lunch break. As the day unfolded, I went home from my shift, Rickey arrived home from work and we along with many other families got into our cars and waited in line to fill up with gas {nobody KNEW what was happening, it seemed like the right thing to do "just in case"} and then we headed to church for a prayer vigil.

It is true. Days of tragedy draw people together, they draw a nation together. We saw the best and the worst in human kind on 9/11/2001 and in the days, weeks and months that followed.  Just this morning, I saw a story of Daisy the Golden Retriever who saved over 900 lives that day, going back into the towers time after time, leading emergency personnel to victims needing help. We saw people loving on people, regardless of age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation.  We saw people loving people and people willing to give their lives for their brothers and sisters, known and unknown. Yes, we saw the "worst" of humanity in the form of the terrorists, but we also saw the best of humanity in so many ways! 

No, we will "Never Forget" the events of 9/11. It is a day that we will remember. We will remember where we were. We will remember what we were doing. We will remember the emotions that we felt. We will remember the stories that riveted us and we will remember the stories that moved us to tears. We will remember the images that are forever in our minds of the unthinkable happening as terrorists hit us on our own home soil, our "safe place". We will remember the changes that took pace in our world following these attacks {remember how easy it was to get on an airplane before 9/11?}. We will remember so many things .... and yet, we have also forgotten ....

Where is the love that we saw exhibited that day? Where is the giving of one's life for their brothers/sisters? Where is the compassion for ALL humankind, regardless of age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation?

Let us take a moment to remember these lessons, and let us strive to cling to those lessons as well. Let us not forget those who lost lives and gave the ultimate human sacrifice for others that day, but let us also remember what LOVE looked like. Let us remember to love each other, regardless of age, race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. Let us truly "Never Forget"!



9/9/15

{the least of these}


When these words are spoken to you as  you stand before the throne, what will you be able to say you have done "for the least of these"? 

I grew up in your very typical Mid-Western middle class household.  Dad worked a full-time job at the shipyard in town, mom worked part time when we were young going full time as we got into high school through her retirement. Thanks to my hard-working parents, I never knew what it was to truly "want" for much of anything {although I'm sure there were times I thought I did!} much less ever go without my basic needs being met. I was taught to shop the sales racks, and we didn't drive outrageously expensive cars or live in an extravagant home, but we did have "nice stuff" {I now live in the house I grew up in and still love it!}. My childhood was blessed more than I ever knew!

To me, a homeless person was someone who lived in a cardboard box in the middle of an alley in a big city, far away {at least as far as Chicago}.  In my mind, said homeless person slept on the sidewalk, smelled really bad, spent any money that was given to them on drugs and alcohol and should have done SOMETHING to relieve themselves of their plight. I do not believe I was raised to be a bigot, I was raised in a Christian home where the love of Christ was freely shared and taught. I trusted Christ as my Savior at a young age, and lived a fairly easy life in the eyes of a watching world. My upbringing was sheltered, and thus, I was sheltered from the reality of much of the world outside of my own little "bubble". Imagine my surprise then, when I learned that my image of the homeless was truly tainted by movies and books, and my preconceived notions! I never realized that a homeless person could look and smell and act and believe just the same as me. Goodness, I never KNEW a homeless person, or did I?  I wonder now, how many homeless people I actually came into contact but had no idea.

I share this because of a couple things. The first is that I do believe that we, as Christians are called to serve and help "the least of these".  Another reason I share is because a few years ago, I was at the Veteran's Day Assembly at the High School and one of the speakers was sharing how they had seen homeless on the streets in a big city they had visited and how glad they were that we "didn't have homeless here" {yes, this statement was made in a public gathering by a well educated, respected community member in the current day and age}. This truly made me open my eyes. It opened my eyes to the fact that we DO have homeless here, they are in need of help, and that many truly do not know the plight of the homeless and the needy, right here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I share because I know how many Thanksgiving meals were delivered, Christmas gifts presented and backpacks given to families in need in our area by Project Give from Stephenson {Shelby, Deidra & Phillippo Insurance - you guys ROCK}! I also share because recently Rick and I have visited the Abundant Life Mission in Menominee, MI. We have had a chance to speak with and get to know Pastor David Pennell and some of his staff. We attended a board meeting held by the mission where we heard some of the hurdles and hoops they are jumping over and through to open a new, larger facility {their current facility can house just over 20 residents and is at capacity and has to turn people away}. I share this because I have had my eyes truly opened to the fact that there are many of "the least of these" right here in my own backyard, and I have been blind to their needs for far too long! I share because I now know that I have done very little to help the least of these during my lifetime. I share because though I truly have a heart for world missions {both of the older girls have been on missions trips to areas of the world where the gospel has not been widely spread or accepted or taught}, I am realizing how much of a mission field really exists right here, in my own backyard!

HOMELESSNESS is REAL.
There are homeless people right here, in my little "village", in my township, my county and throughout the U.P. and Northeast Wisconsin {right in my little "corner" of the world}.

HOMELESSNESS can happen to ANYONE.
A large employer in our area just laid off many of its employees, how many of them will become homeless when their unemployment checks run out?

HOMELESSNESS is not a respecter of age, race, educational level or gender.
You can be married, single, with children or without, anyone at any moment could become homeless. It could be the result of job loss {as mentioned above}, a house fire, a death or a divorce, or many other variables.

HOMELESSNESS is not a disease that you can catch, nor is the homeless person contagious, an alcoholic, a drug addict or someone to fear {most of the time}.
Think of the last person you stood next to at the grocery store, Walmart, McDonalds or the Post Office .... they could have been the homeless we speak of.

HOMELESSNESS EXISTS RIGHT HERE, WHERE YOU LIVE.
How will you serve God by serving them?
We each have our own calling. While you may not be called to physically serve, you can still pray. You can still donate. You can support Project Give in their efforts to ease the burden of families in our area through their fund-raising events and community projects. You can support the local homeless shelter in their efforts to have their new facility ready so that they may house more residents before the cold weather is upon us. You can donate goods, time or money as God leads you. If nothing else, you can become aware! Become aware that there is a need, right here, right now. Be aware that you never know what is going on in the lives of people you meet every.single.day.

HOMELESSNESS does not have to equal HELPLESSNESS.
There are people and organizations who locally are helping our areas most needy, won't you join with one of them?

Project Give just completed their "Give Back{packs}" Drive where they partnered with the Rainbow House and other organizations to donate backpacks to area students in need! 

From Project Give's Facebook page:

"We challenged you to donate 50 backpacks for our Give Back(pack) Campaign for the Rainbow House. A month later we have almost 200 bags and school supplies to go in them! A huge [THANK YOU] to everyone who donated and to Ryan and Sara Mireau for matching everything you brought to Main Street Electric Tattoo Co."


Next week, the Abundant Life Church & Mission will hold a food distribution.  Last time one was held, food was given to 250 needy families in our area. Let that sink in .... 250 needy families IN OUR AREA!! We live in an amazing community! We're honored to say that we know Shelby and Deidra who orchestrate Project Give in Stephenson, we're honored to say that we know Pastor David Pennell and some of the staff and volunteers at the Abundant Life Church & Mission!  We live in a GREAT community, and we serve an even GREATER God! :) 


From Abundant Life Mission's Facebook page:
"Abundant Life Church & Mission in cooperation with Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank is distributing 15,000 pounds of food to those in need. This distribution is available to those residents of Menominee County and Marinette County.
If you are in need, join us on September 17th 2015 at our location at 1406 10th Avenue from 10am until 2pm (Or whenever the food runs out).
Any Questions, please call Joshua at 906-424-4429."
Won't you pray about how you can "do unto the least of these" therefore, doing as unto Christ?!

8/25/15

{accepted}


Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, holding your pillow in the dark asking God, "why me"?

Our why me questions are as individual as our fingerprints ...

Why didn't I get that promotion?

Why don't my children love me?

Why did you take my loved one?

Why am I battling this illness?

Why doesn't my spouse love me?

Why did that deal on our house fall through?

Why am I battling this addiction?

Why am I not good enough?

Why did my friend betray me?

Why do I have to feel all alone?

Why, why, why?

We can all fill in the blank of our own why, and we all have them at some point or another in our lives.

We live in a fallen world where Satan prowls like a roaring lion {1 Peter 5:8} seeking to devour us. And as we face these why questions, clinging to our pillow in the dark of the night, it certainly can feel like we are going to be devoured.

If you are feeling the weight of "why" today, I encourage you to remember that in God's eyes, you are accepted. You are loved. You are precious. He has loved YOU with an everlasting love. As he died on that cross, YOU were on his mind. He bore that shame and that pain for you. He even knew you would be asking why "You know what I am going to say, even before I say it, Lord" {Psalm 139:4}

In this fallen world you will experience difficulties {John 16:33 The Message}, we will live with difficult people. Loved ones will die. Children will stray. Jobs will fail. Friends will disappoint. We will question our worth. We may feel all alone.

But, God!

God promises us in His Word {the Bible} that "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother" {Proverbs 18:24}.

When those hard times come and you are holding on to that pillow as the tears fall in the dark of night, hold on to Him. He is your ultimate source of comfort. He is there with you. "I will never leave you nor forsake you" {Hebrews 13:5}

He is your friend who sticks closer than a brother and He has loved you with an everlasting love. You can't run from it. You can't hide from it. You can't get away from it. Even when you forget it and you feel that you are all alone, He is there with you. He is holding you. He is loving you. He is waiting for you. He is waiting for you to turn to Him, to run to Him and to hide in Him.

He loves you.

He cares.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done.

Your sins are forgiven, they were buried with him.

No matter what this world is shouting at you or what others do to you or what you think of yourself, He loves you. He cares and you are accepted.

Won't you accept that love today?


8/22/15

{gracious words}


Ouch!

Most of the time, I can use gracious words, but did you know this goes deeper that the words we {say} it's also the {way} we say them?

How often do we slip into the trap of snide remarks, sarcasm, eye rolling or even feeling superior to someone when speaking with them? 

Where is the graciousness at that point?  On {good} days, it's easy for our speech to be gracious, not only in the spoken word, but in the delivery of the spoken word. 

But what about on those days when things aren't going so well?

What about when you feel like:

You can never do anything right

Nobody cares about your feelings

Everyone forgot about you

You worked around the house all day, and nobody notices
{how clean the house is, all the laundry that got done, the grass that got mowed, the food that got prepared, the pets that got fed ....}

Nobody loves you {even God}

The list could go on and on. We all have {those days}, I know, I had one this week!  And on {those days} I so quickly forget what I know to be true:

I have {with God's help} done much right

God cares about my feelings {and really, my family does too!}

God never forgets about me, I was on His mind as he died on that cross!

God ALWAYS loves me, no matter what {and many others do too, though sometimes I might be loved, but I'm not very likeable!}

God notices the {mundane} jobs that I do, and I should be doing them to glorify Him and serve my family, not for vain recognition!

But then, how do I respond to the first list above?  How do you respond?  

I had a day earlier in the week where there weren't many gracious words {spoken or unspoken} adding to my reputation. My spoken words were snippy and sassy and full of the pity party I was throwing for myself.  And my thought life, well, it was worse than the words that I spewed. My words were indeed sarcastic, snide and delivered with eye rolls and not so nice thoughts {you hurt me, I want you to hurt too}.  

It was really quite an {ugly} day!  It was a day that I wouldn't have wanted cameras rolling, or Facebook posts updating my thoughts, words and actions as they proceeded from my lips and ran through my mind.

Ouch!

But God ....

Oh, how I love those 2 little words!

But God .... in those {ugly} moments still loved me {though those receiving the brunt of my tantrum found it harder to love me, I'm sure}!  But God .... in those {ugly} moments heard my pitiful cries for help!  But God .... didn't instantly deliver me from the {so called} trial {created by myself} that I {thought} I was facing.  But God .... was with me and didn't forsake me! But God .... allowed me to seek His face, to cling to Him, to search my soul and realize just how selfish I really am. But God .... reached down to me, and in His mercy gave me little blessings throughout the day to remind me of how little I am and how big He is! But God .... gave me a husband and children who love and forgive my un-graciousness. But God .... God Himself loves me and forgives me. But God .... reminds me that it was for these exact things He died on the cross. But God .... asks me to put away these behaviors and instead put on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control {Galatians 5:22 & 23}

Just because things didn't go exactly as I had planned, and exactly as I expected they should, life still went on. Morning turned to afternoon and afternoon turned to evening. Just because I was a crab, the world didn't stop. 

Everyone else went on with their day.

Rick went to work.

The girls spent the day enjoying each other, their big brother and family, and a boat ride with Uncle Tim and Aunt Rochet {thank you again, for loving those girls almost as much as I do Tim and Rochet!}

And I? I made a choice to pout .... Because I didn't make my expectations clear to others around me. Because I didn't graciously let my words express my expectations for the day. Because I didn't listen to Rick {as he graciously tried to soothe my rough edges, reminding me of what I know to be true}. Because I chose not to speak with love, I spent the day not enjoying the day. I didn't see the beauty all around me. I didn't appreciate the fact that I had been given another day, to live and laugh and love and BREATHE! I wasted a day that God had graciously gifted me with!

But God .... He continued that day and for the rest of the week to put devotions, and quotes, and Bible verses, and people and songs in front of me reminding me how fleeting life is. How forgiveness {and forgetting} is so important. How I've only been given one life, and He desires that I live it well .... in service to Him .... no matter what each day brings!


Now that the {ugly} day is past, I can see how foolish I was. How selfish I was. How sinful and un-Godly I was. How, if I were to have died the next day, it sure wouldn't have been worth wasting the day being angry!

" Lord I pray to guard my lips so that I remember it's not just {what} I say but also {how} I say it as well as my thought life, and my actions that {speak louder than words}. These are the things that add to {or subtract from} my reputation. Let my words be sweet and my tone be gentle to all I speak to today. Let my actions and my thoughts glorify you and encourage those around me! May I speak only words of life and love! Amen."







8/18/15

one of "those" days ...

So ... today is one of "those days"!

And by "those days" I mean one where I'm counting the hours until I can go back to bed!

I don't feel that way because it's Rickey's Birthday.



 I feel that way because it's a day where there's an elephant in the room.

I feel that way because even though I love the texts and messages, it really is "just another day".

I feel that way because I don't know what I'm supposed to do or say or how I'm supposed to "act" ... do I ignore the significance of the day, do I wear sackcloth and ashes so I'm grieving properly, do I tiptoe around the fact that it's Rickey's Birthday, just in case I might offend someone?

I feel that way because I don't know what to write today, because it might not be the "right" thing in somebody's eyes.



I feel this way because on a day like today, I feel the weight of expectations. How do people expect me to act? How do they expect me to "respond" to the day.  Will they judge me if I respond wrongly to the day, not the way they expected? Will I hurt someone by my response to the day? 

aauuggghhhh!


"Special" days are never easy in the aftermath of losing someone ... even when we are 4 years out from losing Rickey.  

Everyone has their own memories.  Everyone copes with their memories in their own way.  Everyone has expectations of how others should cope with their memories ... and that's where the "hard" part of the day happens!  

So rather than "tip-toe" through the rest of the day ... here's where I am at today, on this celebration of the day that Rickey Roger Rye was born ...

Today, I will choose to celebrate the man that he was ...

He was a man who loved God first and most!

He was a man who loved his family!

He was a man who loved ALL THINGS hunting!

He was a man who loved his GREEN BAY PACKERS {and Brett Favre}!

I will also celebrate memories ...

I will remember with pride the moment he held each of his newborn children {and grandchildren} in his arms!

I will remember the smile on his face when he posed for a picture with the deer or bear he just shot!

I will remember him cheering for his Green  Bay Packers - win or lose, he still loved them!

I will remember the peace on his face when he spoke of his salvation and his assurance that whenever and however the LORD took him home, he was ready!

I will remember how he loved me, his parents, his siblings and his children/grandchildren!

I will remember how he treated everyone he met with kindness and love!

I will remember birthdays gone by ....

I will remember the year I decided to make a German chocolate cake, from scratch, in 90+ degree weather, in a house with no air conditioning ... and after 3 attempts I finally got a cake out of the oven that didn't "fall" from the humidity!

I will remember pulling off a surprise 50th Birthday party!

I will remember celebrating him turning the speed limit {55}!

I will remember that we had no idea that he would forever be 55 in our minds, for in just 2.5 short months after that Birthday, God called him home.

I will also remember that any grief that is felt today is for those left behind for even if Rickey COULD come back to celebrate his Birthday with us, he wouldn't want to!

I will remember that he is celebrating his Birthday {they probably don't really celebrate in Heaven, I know!} with his Heavenly Father and his earthly father, and it is a more joyous celebration than you or I can ever imagine!

I will remember today with fondness and with thankfulness the almost 20 years that I was given with him here on this earth.

I will be thankful for the kind and loving husband and Daddy that he was and I'll be thankful that he pointed me and his children to Jesus!

I will pray that I learned something from his kind, gentle spirit and that I can carry that legacy with me, and treat others with the love and respect that he did!

I will remember that each of us was created in the image of Jesus and before we ever took our first breath on earth, our days were written by the King of the Universe and in His sovereignty HE and he alone knows the number of those days!

I will CHOOSE today to live the day to the fullest, CHOOSING to honor the memory of Rickey while enjoying the blessings that I have today!

Won't you do the same ...

Remember Rickey with fond memories today!

Recall the love that you felt when you were in his presence!

Share a fun story you remember about him!

Laugh, smile, be happy for the fact that you were blessed to know him!

Trust that God does not make mistakes and that He was there the day Rickey was called to his Heavenly home, and that it was in God's timing {even though it seems too soon for our earthly finite minds}!

And then, won't you give Rickey the BEST gift you could ever give him ...

Make sure you know that when the Lord calls your name, you'll be joining Rickey in Heaven!

Love like there's no tomorrow {for it isn't promised to anyone}!

Grieve if you must, but not without hope!

Smile and do something kind for someone else - to honor Rickey's memory!

Have a Mountain Dew, a cup of coffee or a piece of raspberry pie or German chocolate cake in his memory!

Shoot your gun or your bow and remember that time you hunted with him!

Do something good and fun and happy ... he would not ask you to grieve, he would want you to live and be happy and to serve God well in the days you have left on this earth!

So go out and do just that ... it's o.k. ... really it is!



8/17/15

... do it TODAY!

"Love is all you need" is how the old song goes ... and while that my not be entirely true, and I had a completely different post written in my mind to go with the "love" theme I posted on the "My Journey 139" Facebook page, it's the song in my head right now.

While "love" might not be "all you need", it sure is an important part of living!

Tonight I went to the local funeral home for the visitation of a former neighbor, a friend, a classmate. She died in her sleep. She was only 50 years old.  If you are 16 and reading this, that makes her sound ancient. If you are 75 and reading this, she's young enough to be your daughter. If you are somewhere in between, you are thinking, wow, 50 isn't that old!

So, what does visiting the funeral home and my neighbor/friend/classmate have to do with love?

Everything actually!

As I stood in line, it was hard not to remember being there myself almost 4 years ago. It was hard not to remember the mixture of emotions that are felt when your family is the one that is being visited. It was hard not to see Rickey laying there, not my friend. It was hard to see her Dad & Mom grieving.  It was hard to see her sisters and children and husband and grandchildren grieving. It was just plain hard. I had a moment where I felt the room spinning, it was a surreal feeling.  I've been to the funeral home before. I get it. Life has a beginning and it has an ending, all written by God before our days are even begun here on earth {Psalm 139:16}. Yes, I get all that. Yet tonight's visitation hit me hard. Not sure why? Maybe because tomorrow is Rickey's Birthday, his 4th in Heaven. Maybe because I'm myself grieving the loss of friendships that came about because I got remarried too soon in the eyes of some. Maybe because I saw her parents and family grieving, and could actually relate and feel their pain. I'm not sure, but I do know that God allowed those feelings. Not so I would doubt his sovereignty, that I've never done, but maybe so I could see things more clearly. Maybe so I could see how important relationships are. Maybe so I could sit down and write this post, because maybe, just maybe it might change one life or one family. Maybe.

So, here goes. After I left the funeral home I got into my car and had a good cry. As I drove home I prayed. And I felt God telling me how important it is to live life with no regrets. How it really is so important that we "Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." Ephesians 4:26b I felt the need to blog about how important love REALLY is and how relationships do matter. Even the messy ones. Even the ones that have hurt you. Even the ones that you don't want to make right. Even the ones that don't have "warm fuzzies" anymore. Even those that have grown apart and have grown cold. Even those who "rub you the wrong way". Even, even, even ....

We will all die someday, "It is appointed to men once to die" Hebrews 9:27. Those we love, and those we like and those we have grudges with will all die someday.You will die someday. If that day is today, and you have let the sun go down on your anger for a day, or two or ten {or ten years ...} you won't get another chance. Please, today, be the first! Be the first to say I'm sorry. Be the first to forgive. Be the first to forget. Be the first to move on. Make today be the first day of the rest of your life, letting go of bitterness and anger. Let the other person know that the past really is past and you love them TODAY and you'll love them TOMORROW and each day after. It's their choice if they want to accept it, but you'll be free. Free to love them and to let go of the baggage you were carrying. And, maybe, just maybe, you'll release them in the process as well!

My guess is that in many cases, picking up from today, and loving again is all that it takes. The past probably doesn't have to be re-hashed. The old hurts and the old anger, bitterness, un-forgiveness, don't have to all be laid out on the table and "fixed" before you can move on {sometimes that is not the case, but often I do believe it is}. I have seen for myself that lives can be changed just by being willing to look forward not back. To choose to love again, and to move on, letting bygones be bygones. 



Won't you try it? Won't you be the one to make the first move? Won't  you be the one to love again? Pick up that phone, make that call, type that text, send that Facebook message, send that e-mail, write that card! Whatever it takes, just do it! don't stand at someone's graveside with a heart full of regret for what "should have been", make things right today, for your sake, for their sake, for God's sake! 

To those reading this who I have wronged in any way, I'm asking your forgiveness. If I hurt you, I'm sorry. I do believe I can honestly say that I don't remember a time in my life that I intentionally caused someone pain "just for the fun of it". I know that there are those I've not seen eye to eye with on issues, or who I've hurt by actions, reactions, or non-actions. Please forgive me. Let's let today be the first day of the rest of our lives, let's move forward to the future in love, let's not hold grudges, and someday have to say "if only".

Take a moment. Pray about it. Listen to God. Is he telling you to make it right with someone? Don't turn your face from that today, take a step out in faith, trust God to do a work that is bigger than you. Don't let the sun go down on your anger for one more day because you don't know if you'll get one more day!

{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...