11/11/18

life does go on ♥️

It is hard to explain to others the dynamic of  “life”  after death because honestly it is so very different for everyone.

For me seven years later, it is still surreal.  It seems unreal that Rickey has been gone for seven years. I was told shortly after he died by a good friend that eventually I’d forget the exact sound of his voice, his touch, small details like that, taken for granted while someone is here with us. I didn’t believe that, didn’t want to believe that. I thought it would diminish the love I had for him and if  I could or did forget those things.

The thing is, time heals. I won’t say it heals all wounds because there will always be an empty spot at the table, at events like weddings and new baby visits. It doesn’t heal all, but rather it softens the sting.

God touches and heals our hurting hearts, He comforts as only He can, and he places others in our lives to love us through the memories! 

We have just come to the end of the week that forever changed our lives seven years ago. Each day this past week, I did remember, I remembered the police car in my driveway, the ride to the hospital, the time in the ER and the days that followed. I remembered events from the day after the accident  and the day of the visitation. I remembered the day of Rickey’s burial, down to how my bosses corduroy jacket felt as I gripped his arm for strength as the casket was lowered. I rested in the knowledge that the box being lowered only contained the shell of Rickey, that his soul was already alive and free in heaven, but that last glimpse of the box containing his earthly body will always be etched in my mind. 

That week, this week is over for another year. This year, as last, the memories are sweeter, the love still there, but the of sting of pain and loss not so sharp.

God has been so good. He has blessed and given strength!

I feel so fortunate that during this week, I could share each day the memories with Rick, he who is a gift to me as he listens, loves and understands! He gets that I love him, he is my new best friend, yet he allows memories of another best friend and loves me through those memories!

This year, too, memories were mingled with excitement!

Excitement that all 3 girls were led to Godly husbands and we will be celebrating the wedding of Kajsa & Zach in just a month, the recent celebration of the birth of precious little Will Axel to Tessa & Andrew and an upcoming trip overseas in five short days!

Stay tuned as I plan to try and blog more and to share our Scandinavian adventure over the next three weeks!

God is good, time does soften the pain, living and loving is possible after loss and I’m ever so thankful for God’s Grace in these truths!
♥️

5/19/18

we are getting a new ... address!


because i'm usually too wordy, i'm going to bullet point this list because i have lots of things to do today!

WE ARE MOVING! :) 

when we were in florida in november/december, we talked about the real possibility of moving for employment. i quickly fell in love with being so near the sand and the beach and being able to wear flip flops at Christmas! i was convinced that we were supposed to move to florida!

rick wasn't feeling that pull, but was willing to look wherever we were led! we stopped in chattanooga on the way home and also loved the charm that area offered, so began to consider that as an option as well, so much so that he had a job interview offered to him in january which for some reason, we couldn't make work out, and he did not get to interview for the position. 

in late january, we had the opportunity to visit out at the former northland international university and to hear about some of the many ways the campus is being revived. rick instantly felt a pull back to northland. i did not! the sandy beach there was covered in snow and the lake was iced over. it was going to be a long time until i could wear my flip flops there!

but God ...

by the time we left that day, i had caught the vision and the northland spirit which still feels alive there today!

in february, after meeting with the team putting together some exciting things, it became a waiting game as we awaited dotting "i's" and crossing "t's". it was a long wait for me, i'm not the best with being patient! in the meantime, rick continued to look into government/military positions in the medical field, keeping all of our options open, just in case the opportunity at northland fell through. we strongly felt that God would open the doors He wanted opened and close all others.

rick actually received several e-mails from positions he applied for, but none came to fruition, he kept teasing me that he would get called for an interview as soon as northland was ready to move forward and i just laughed at him!

last week, we had a lengthy phone call on tuesday night with northland and on wednesday? on wednesday, he got a call from a va clinic in chattanooga, wanting to schedule a phone interview! imagine t.h.a.t.! on thursday, as was already scheduled, we spent the afternoon at northland, not being able to fit in the interview with chattanooga and on friday, we went in for our first day of work at northland! while we were at northland on thursday, we both knew that chattanooga was not the opportunity that God wanted rick to pursue and that northland was where we belonged!

while our specific job titles are still actually still being ironed out and for the summer as we will be wearing many hats, we are proud to say that we are both on staff with 
NORTHLAND SCHOLARS ACADEMY!
nsa is an international/us academy offering excellence in education for 9-12 grade high school students. these students will have the amazing opportunity to graduate from high school with an associates degree and move forward either right into the workforce, or to furthering their educations!

because we will be heavily involved with summer adventure camps for students coming to northland from all over the world and then with academics/activities and athletics on campus, the hour drive each way does not make much sense - especially from november - april when we'd have to battle the snow and weather, so the decision was also made, that us living on campus was the best case scenario.

this weekend will be a BUSY one filled with packing and making arrangements, trying to be pro-active as our new home will be mostly move-in ready by the end of next week!

we are very excited for this opportunity that God has brought to us and we are anxious to see the school grow and flourish and are honored to be a part of the team that is building this!

if you have read this far, thanks! we aren't moving far, so for those of you who are local, we'll still see you and would love to have you come visit our new home! for those who aren't local, but want to visit if you're in the area, i'll get you our new address, our duplex has 2 spare bedrooms! for the rest of you, the internet has made the world small, so please, continue to follow along with us on this adventure and as always, if you'd pray along with us through these changes, it would be much appreciated! 

happy saturday to you all!

5/11/18

well then.

i love word pictures, so would you indulge me one for a moment?

imagine yourself standing with your toes on the very edge of a dingy, gray stone cliff. in front of and below you is a drop-off, a very, very deep drop off. so deep in fact, you can barely see the bottom and you're not sure what is down there, you are so high up that it seems you are in the clouds. behind you and to your sides is a wall of stone, you cannot turn back or to either side, the only way you can move is forward. to move forward means stepping into the unknown, but you hear a strong steady voice saying "take one step, just one step at a time, I am here, I will bring you safely to the other side". gulp. {have i ever mentioned i'm afraid of heights?} timidly, you take a step, and just like that, there is a stepping stone under your feet where a great nothingness was just moments before. there is also a hand rail on either side to hold on to and you feel no fear whatsoever even though now, you are traversing this great chasm. you take the next step. and the next. as you continue to step, the stepping stones continue to appear ... one at a time, but one after the other right in tune with your steps. you again hear that voice urging you forward  "take one step, just one step at a time, I am here, I will bring you safely to the other side". as you continue forward, the sky becomes even more blue, the brightness of the sun just a little brighter and all green things even more green ... kind of like all things coming back to life in the spring.

that my friends is an image that God gave to me today!

yesterday i posted about how rick and i are waiting on God before we offer up more information on where He is leading us.

that is because very honestly, yesterday, we didn't have a clue. we thought we knew, but we were becoming unsure as time marched onward and we felt like each day was groundhog's day, the movie!

today, we still aren't 100% sure, but may i just say that i serve a really big God?

today we went to the gym and since our membership includes use of the tanning beds, we chose to enjoy the warmth and "sunshine" they offered to us after our workout as fall like weather made a come back to the u.p. this morning! it was 46 degrees, cloudy and chilly as we drove into town to the gym ... brrrrr ... my dreams of sunshine and barefoot walks on the beach came to mind, not to be helped when my brother-in-love sent me a picture of a wall hanging that said "memories made in flip flops last a lifetime", thanks alot, kenny!



while i was laying in the tanning bed, i came before God as i often do when i'm in there. for some reason in the tanning bed and on my lawnmower are two places i really connect with God, maybe it's because He has my full attention in both places and i'm fully not distracted by my phone or outside influences?!

anyway, i humbly asked Him to set my mind at peace. i asked that i be content with His will and His timing. in His plan for our lives. i asked that He increase and i decrease and my faith in Him grow! 

now, in no means am i saying that i snap my fingers and God jumps, honestly it's a prayer that i've prayed many times over the past 3+ months, but today, i had so much peace when i prayed that it was crazy!

anyway ... as the day progressed {before we even got home actually} some answers to those 3 months + of praying were being answered ... in ways we couldn't really imagine. 

the answers were slightly different than we were anticipating, but they were answers and they were good! as we are still doing some e-mailing and waiting for a little more information, i'm going to hold of on sharing too much detail, but i just wanted to give a little update, and ask that you please continue to pray along with us throughout the weekend and the upcoming weeks that as we are now moving forward, God would really make the path clear, as clear as traversing that great chasm as the stepping stones appear guiding our path!

to say i'm excited is an understatement! to say i'm a little scared is an understatement! to say that this is really the first time in my life i feel so stretched and asked to totally lean on Him for EVERYTHING is an understatement!

but God ... 

He knows.

He has a plan.

He has had a plan.

He makes no mistakes.

His timing is NOT my timing.

He promises to never leave me.

or forsake me.

"for I know the plans I have for you." He promises.
{jeremiah 29:11}

"all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be."
{psalm 139:16}

His promises are rich.

His promises are true.

His promises never fail.

my faith falters.

my faith waivers.

my faith fears.

but God ...

He still loves me, and His eye is still on this sparrow! 

5/10/18

w.a.i.t.i.n.g

some of you may have seen through my facebook posts that rick and i have recently been in a 
"season of waiting" 
and i'm very admittedly not a good "waiter"!

in november, after a few conversations with some of rick's family members, and a hospital stay his mom had just had, we felt that God was calling us to go to florida to spend some time with his mom. it would help the family out, and rick could speak directly with some of mom's caregivers, see her medical reports and spend some much needed time with other family who live near mom. 

because i had left lularoe back in august and most of the funds owed to me had finally been returned to me, we had a bit of a cushion that we planned to use for living expenses as we diligently sought God's leading at this point in our lives. in less than a week, we had packed up 3 seasons worth of clothing, made arrangements for the care of our home and 10 pets, mapped a route, making arrangements for a few stops between the upper peninsula of michigan and south florida and on november 18, my 51st birthday, we jumped in the car and headed south with plans to either stay for a week or through Christmas, depending on what it seemed the need was when we got there!

our visit with mom was good! her health was better than we had anticipated and following our original plan, we started our journey back north almost a month after our arrival via georgia, north carolina and Christmas in kentucky {as we had originally planned earlier in the fall, before the florida trip came about}.

while we were in florida, we had the chance to take walks along the beach and have long talks about where we felt God was calling us ... p.s. those walks along the beach made me sure He was calling me THERE! we prayed, we discussed, we looked at many options and we came home feeling pretty settled that we knew not only our wishes for the future but God's call on our future!

fast forward a month or so after we got home, rick had an interview that we thought fit perfectly into our plans, and we were excited! then, God threw us a curve-ball! we couldn't make the interview fit into our schedule, it just wouldn't work out right with our time table and that of the prospective employer, and we were a little stumped until a different opportunity landed literally right in our laps!  

this one was completely different than the first, it was NOT on my radar in any way, shape or form. trust me on this one, i argued with rick and i argued with God! it did not include sunshine, warm temperatures most of the year or miles and miles of sandy beach on the ocean!

but God ...

as we met with the prospective new employer, God opened my eyes to the beauty of the new position{s} being offered. He changed my mind and my heart as i began to see this new opportunity as a gift straight from His hand! it's an opportunity that is in somewhat "familiar territory" to me that will allow me {us} to serve God and to serve others, which is exactly what i have a heart to do!

the new position{s} were not slated to begin immediately, it was a work in process, but we truly were at such peace with feeling God's hand at work that we were o.k. with that, we still had some of the lulafunds and all was still well! 

as the money from lularoe that has been supplementing our income have slowly been used up, i have begun to wonder if i didn't hear God correctly, but rick reminds me each day that his God's arm has not shortened and that He does indeed have His best plan in mind for us! we are still very excited about this new opportunity, and as we are staying tuned on the updates on the progress that is being made until we are brought on board, we remain excited to begin this next new adventure {i'm a bit more anxious to get going on it than rick is, he is a much more patient waiter than i am}! just today, he reminded me that we had been told that we were wanted as part of this new "team" that is forming, and we just have to be patient as the behind the scenes work is completed!

so, there you have it! i'm not being intentionally vague, we're just not ready to share all the details yet, but they are good, very good and we are excited to watch as God opens doors and leads us down paths we did not expect to be led down! 

each day with God can be an adventure if we just let it! i always want to push ahead and put the cart before the horse, but thankfully, rick encourages me to be still, to be patient, to wait on God's timing and not mine!

when the time is right, we promise to share with you the details of this next stage in our lives, and until then, if you'd just remain in prayer with us that everything that needs to fall into place does, that i would remain patient and trust in God's timetable, and that when the plans are set, that God would use us where He places us for our good and His glory! :) 

4/25/18

when I met rick in july of 2012, i was a bit of a trainwreck!

spiritually, i was ready to walk away from church.

emotionally, i hadn't grieved, i didn't know how to grieve and after 8 months, i didn't want to grieve, it was just easier to just keep stuffing my feelings

phycially, i weighed less than 100 pounds and existed on diet mountain dew and the occasional salad or cup of soup

but, i thought i was doing pretty good and i think on the outside, most people thought the same.

in almost 6 years, i've learned much

i've grown much

i've come to realize that God isn't "the church" and though i may feel failed by humans, God will not fail me and truly, He will never leave me or forsake me

emotionally, i've cried, i've screamed, i've yelled at God for taking rickey, i've asked Him for and received forgiveness again and again

i've learned that grief is not a destination but a state of being and that i can grieve in my own way, in my own time and on my own terms and it's o.k.

i still have no doubt that on 11/5/11 rickey went instantly from falling from that high peak on the roof he was on into the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

i have no doubt that his faith was strong and secure and that Jesus welcomed him with open and loving arms and those precious words, "well done, my good and faithful servant, well done, enter into your eternal rest"

physically, i can with all honesty say that i feel better today than i did in 2012, goodness, i feel better than i did in 2002 and 1992

thanks to rick and a few other amazing people who i've joined forces with and who have come alongside me, i feel healthier and happier and stronger than i have in years

rick is a "guru" in the health/wellness/fitness arena and takes his study of all things health/wellness/fitness very seriously

one of our mottos at our clinic was "you'll never realize how bad you felt until you know how good you can feel"

this is so true, for mind, body and spirit

today, i encourage you, become healthy

take care of your spiritual life, evaluate, reevaluate your relationship with God and make decisions that will affect you into eternity, so just as rickey, there is no doubt as to where you will spend eternity when your days on this earth are over

take care of your emotional life, do you need to forgive or be forgiven, if  there is an area or a person in your life who you need to make things right with, just do it, make the first move, fix what you can and let go of what you can't

physically, choose today to correct imbalances in your life, drink enough water, go for that walk, get enough sleep, make better food choices, begin to heal yourself; from the inside out

our bodies were made to do what's right, we've just abused them for so long, that they are filled with toxins and most of us are physical trainwrecks from the inside out

autoimmune disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, infections, weight gain, obesity, overall poor health are rampant, just take a look around you, or take a look in the mirror

those are the outwardly visible symptoms, just think of what your body must look like on the inside after years and years of toxins and too many carbs and too much sugar

my guess is that the majority of you, like me are a train wreck and don't know where to begin or how to start fixing things

don't put if off until tomorrow, start today, with one small step, try starting with drinking enough good old water

aim for a bare minimum of half of your body weight in ounces - every day and then go from there

if you want to talk, please reach out, i'm here and i do care

if you have a burden that you're carrying, don't carry it alone, broken is an o.k. place to be, just don't stay there, give it to God and share it so you don't have to carry it by yourself

if you are lethargic, moody, suffering from ill-health, if you take too many medications to count or you don't take any, but just know there has to be a way to feel better, we want to help

reach out, do it today

i'm here

rick is here

we care

we want to help 

you are never to broken to be helped and we'd love to come alongside you and help in any way we can ... just take the first step and ask

remember ... you are cherished, loved and adored!

3/26/18

{i.promised.myself.i wouldn't}

well, my 7 days of the "drink pink experience" are complete.

i went into the 7 days with a goal in mind.

i was going to prove that this product was just hype and that there was no way it could do what people claimed it could to.

which means if the placebo effect is real, i should have overcome it with my mind and experienced either no results or perhaps even negative results, right?

the placebo effect is that if you think it will work, it will and we saw it work once when a friend gave her husband 2 m&m's for his headache. without close scrutiny, he swallowed them down and settled in to watch t.v.  in an hour or so, she asked him how the headache was, and yep, it was gone, those pills really worked! he believed the pills he was taking for his headache would make the headache go away, and they did just that, even though they weren't pills at all!

i also said after this past year and my direct sales experiences that were less than stellar at times that i was not getting into direct sales again ... ever.

but, here i am, eating my words because i believe in this product! i have seen it work first hand in just 7 days! and if i can have the results i had in 7 days, i can't imagine what will happen in 7 weeks or 7 months!

rick has looked over the ingredients in the products and though he's not completely sold on all of them, he has given them a thumbs up, which if you know how closely he studies all things supplemental and claiming to be natural and of benefit, you know is a good thing! i will also add here, that even though the "pink drink" is sometimes promoted for weight loss, there is still no substitute or magic formula for that. you need proper nutrition, enough calories as undereating is as detrimental as overeating, and exercise for fitness. you cannot just replace those aspects with a drink or a pill or a shake and achieve results without changing the lifestyle that made you overweight in the first place!

taya and i have joined with some amazing ladies in this company and i'm actually pretty excited to see where it goes. though there is a money making aspect, that takes a backseat to the fact that the products that i have available to offer you contain natural ingredients. they are pure and good for you. they are not produced by big pharma therefore, i will make no medical claims, but i will tell you that i have had a reduction in symptoms of conditions that i could be on prescription medications for; namely my thyroid and menopause symptoms. those hot flashes were hitting me at a rate of 2-3 per hour from early evening until morning and then occasionally throughout the day! :) 

what you do with the information that i share is completely up to you! i'm thrilled if you are willing to give them a try and find that they improve your quality of life. i'm also totally o.k. if you say thanks, but no thanks. the choice is yours! i do know that having a healthy gut is of primary importance, we and the girls have taken probiotics for almost 5 years now, and our level of health is the best it has ever been! when you have healthy bacteria in your stomach, you are able to absorb the nutrients in the food you eat, and in any medications/supplements you do take! 

so to sum up my experience, it was a positive one. i'm thankful that God led me to say yes to it and i gave it a go! i'm excited to see additional improvements in my physical health and in my emotional well-being! i'm excited to have some more energy and focus and good sleep! i'm also excited to see taya see a reduction in migraines and anxiety, and whose hubby wouldn't like if we girls don't have a reduction in pms symptoms?! 

so, to sum it up, in the past 7 days, i'm happy to report: 


✔️more energy ... check
✔️better sleep .... check
✔️less anxiety ... check
✔️less irritability ... check
✔️better mood ... check
✔️reduced menopause symptoms ... check
✔️reduced autoimmune symptoms ... check




3/23/18

{pink.drink.day.5}


i'm sorry! i know i promised daily updates, but honestly, i didn't want to seem over-the-top so i thought maybe i'd get through the bulk of the challenge before posting again.

here i am on the morning of day 5.

my product arrived and i started the challenge on monday.

i went into it knowing that there is truth to the "placebo effect" ... meaning that if i thought it would work ... it would. so, i tried to actually start with the mindset that it would NOT work ... meaning, i'd see no noticeable effects.

#1. i'm going into this fairly healthy - we eat basically keto/paleo, almost no grains/very limited carbs/nearly zero sugars, yada, yada, yada

#2. i already take a pro-biotic and have for almost 5 years so my "gut" is pretty healthy and vitamin d on a daily basis. i'm taking a naturopath approach to menopause and while somewhat of a nuisance, compared to horror stories i've heard, it's been a pretty easy road for me

#3. i don't believe there is a "magic pill" for anything ... weight loss especially. it takes clean eating, proper nutrition {getting enough calories} with exercise included for toning and fitness

#4. it was a nightmare getting out of lularoe. i'm not going back into direct sales, i'm done with it, over, finished.

so ... since monday what can i report?

i promised an honest review ... so here goes!

i used the "slim" which is known as "the pink drink"

a "brief" search for info on the product brings up much information, so here's just a little blurb:

1️⃣ Increases friendly microbes called #Akkermansia- a remarkable microbe, which positively impacts disrupted metabolism associated with being overweight by 250 times
2️⃣ Increases #Lactobacillus by 365 times and #Bifidobacterium by 290 times - contributes to overall #health
3️⃣ Increases #Butyrate by up to 58% and #Propionate by up to 29%- short-chain fatty acids that help regulate your metabolism.
Our great-tasting Pink Drink is only 5 calories, contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors and is gluten-free, non-GMO and 100% vegetarian. 🌱


along with another of the products called x-factor + because it is promoted to reduce episodes of "personal summer" {aka hot flashes} that ladies *my age* can suffer with.

so, my "take" after 5 days ...

** i have more energy. hands down. no question.

** i've slept better. last night i don't think i moved all night and i woke up ready to get out of bed and tackle the day without laying around and psyching myself up to do it.

** i've been battling muscle fatigue at the gym, to the point of limiting my workouts, i've seen some improvement.

**  my mind is sharper and more focused, i'm finishing tasks and not quite so scatterbrained {oh, look, a squirrel!}.

**  i've had noticeably less hot flashes, and they have been less intense and shorter in duration.

so ... what is my take after 5 days?

i do think there is a usefulness to these products. 

what i've seen in just 5 days makes me want to know more.

my desire in life is to help others and be a blessing ... and to share products that will help you feel better and enjoy life more would certainly bless many lives.

i'm willing to give these products a longer chance than 7 days and i'm willing to try other products the company offers.  

i love the fact that they are not pharmaceutical in nature and that they are derived from natural ingredients ... many of the ambassadors with the company are *crunchy* mamas and that appeals to me.

whew!

so, that is my HONEST review!

i'll be hosting a challenge through my facebook group my journey 139 within a few weeks if you want to see for yourself what you think of these products. don't just follow me blindly ... try them for yourself, see if you don't feel better and stronger and have more vitality for life ... what have you got to lose?  it's only 7 days!

head back over to my FB page HERE and join if you aren't a member and then either comment to my wall, comment on the "join the challenge post" or PM me if you want to try it for yourself with absolutely NO COMMITMENT ever beyond the 7 day challenge! 




3/20/18

{pink.drink.day.one}


i promised an honest review as i go through this 7-day challenge of the "pink drink" and the "x-factor" supplement.

yesterday {monday} i weighed in hoping that my product would arrive in the mail. being at that "stage of life" i often experience episodes of "personal summe r" {a.k.a. hot flashes}and i am finding my metabolism to be a bit sluggish no matter how well i eat and i've been a but more fatigued than normal when we work out. for these reasons i told kim that i'd be willing to at least give this plan a chance!

after weighing in, i began my day as normal with my 12 oz of warm lemon water followed by a 12 oz glass of water.

we "intermittent fast" which is another post for another day, but basically it means that we consume all our our daily calories in a 4 - 6 hour window, so we went to the gym as normal doing our normal workout followed by a quick protein shake to replenish and break-fast. i also drank my usual 32 oz of lemon water while we were at the gym :) 

when we got home, my goodies had arrived in the mail, and since the x-factor is supposed to be taken with food, i took those as i prepped some chicken, asparagus & zucchini for our lunch :)

after lunch, i mixed up the first of my "pink drink" for a taste test ... and first trial run! i could smell the watermelon as I opened the pouch and mixed it with 12 oz of ice water. i was pleasantly surprised with the flavor, though i'd not recommend less than 12 oz of water as it had plenty of flavor, and i think it may be too strong with less :)

i can't say that i felt a sudden urge to go and run a marathon or anything, but i was able to complete several projects and stay awake until 10 with rick watching some t.v. - we do typically go to bed at 9 as our pets usually wake us up fairly early in the morning, and our circadian rhythm is pretty well set so that was possibly a good sign!

though i am typically a good sleeper, i did have an exceptionally good night's sleep, and was not awakened by any episodes of personal summer like I often am! :) 

i woke feeling refreshed and rather than roll over and go back to sleep, i spent some quiet time with God before getting out of bed and having my warm lemon water followed by my 2nd "pink drink". 

before lunch today, i again took my x-factor followed by our typical non-workout day "break-fast" of eggs and bacon.

again today, i can't say that i felt a major difference, but i'm not falling asleep as i type this, and i may have a bit more clarity and sharpness.  i think i've also had a few less episodes of "personal summer", or at least it seems like it!

since we are very particular about any supplements that we consume, rick is still doing some research on the ingredients in these products, and i'll transcribe some of his thoughts on that later in the week!

thanks for checking in and i'll keep posting more updates throughout the week!

3/8/18

{the lesson from my fridge}

it all started with a conversation at the gym ...

me: "there's an odd odor in the fridge/freezer, my ice cubes & lemons even taste funny" 

rick: "there's nothing in there, what can smell?"

me: "i don't know, but i'm going to clean it out when we get home"

{such words from me often strike fear in rick as cleaning often means things are relocated ... he probably had visions of a complete kitchen remodel by the time i was done!}

when we got home, i proceeded to remove every.single.thing from the freezer, washed down all the shelves and walls with thieves spray and emptied and washed out the ice bin. i'm not sure if i've ever done that. gross, i know, sorry! nothing i took out seemed to smell funny, but i kept on with the project. throwing away a few outdated things & organizing the rest. 

today, i had crushed ice again ... maybe not a big deal to you, but i like crushed ice in my water, and i was so happy the ice-maker was working properly again; who knew all that clogged up ice would make it not work? 
 but ... there was still a little bit of an odor in the fridge/freezer :( 

hhmmm ... maybe it is coming from the fridge; even though it's almost as empty as the freezer ... but, out came every.single.thing. from the fridge including shelves and door pockets.  all removable parts were washed in hot soapy water and the interior was sprayed with thieves and wiped down before i re-loaded the fridge ... seriously, how can it get so dirty and full of crumbs in there? but ... i could smell a funky smell ... grrr :/

maybe there is something under the fridge, which is a very scary thought because i had visions of finding a small deceased rodent hiding there.

 first, i removed the kick plate and oh.my.goodness ... obviously i don't do that often enough ... i pulled this out from the coils. probably not the cause of the odor, but could be why the freezer seemed like it wasn't working very well?!
really, i do like things clean and tidy, it's that sometimes, i forget about the out-of-sight-out-of-mind places, and really, how many of you remember to clean under your fridge on a regular basis? 

i will now!

thankfully that little pile did not contain any dead little rodent like creatures, but it also couldn't account for any funky odors!

back to the drawing board ... i got out my flashlight and looked deeper under the fridge and, who knew, there was a drip pan, and it looked like there was water sitting in it ... there was also no.easy.way to just slide the pan out from under the fridge.

since i can tend to be a bit stubborn {thanks dad}, i was not about to ask rick for help with this project, so i googled "how do i remove the drip pan from my whirpool fridge"! 

it's amazing how many experts there are on any given topic, as i found many "how-to" videos on the subject. as i tend to have a short attention span at times, i chose the shortest video i could find! 

the guy doing the video made it look so easy, and "all" i needed was a putty knife, a utility knife and 3 different size ratchets and only needed to remove about 10 screws! 

in came the toolbox from the trunk of the car, which i think began to make rick just a little bit nervous as the last time i dragged out tools and started making a racket, he came in the basement to find walls torn down!
after using the 3 different ratchets described in the how-to video, the underside of the fridge was thoroughly dis-assembled, vacuumed and the cracked drip pan removed {yuck}, washed and properly duct-taped where it had cracks. yes, i'm a good yooper girl, duct tape is my friend. it's the black you can see on the drip pan in the photo below!
i am happy to report that no animals or humans were injured during this process, that i didn't end up with any extra parts when i was done; and everything i removed fit back the way it was when i started. always a good sign, right?

 soon everything was scrubbed down, put back together and the fridge was back in it's designated spot. rick was feeling relieved that no walls came down today and he didn't have to tend to any injuries that i'd caused myself {a common occurrence when i'm "on a mission"
moral of the story?

if you think you can do it, you probably can!

clean inside and under your fridge/freezer more often!

never underestimate the power that you have ... you can often do more than you think you can.

this was also a good reminder to me that it's not always what you can see that's the problem, sometimes it's hidden, in the places others can't see and even in the places you don't look.

is there a "stinky" area in your life? are you struggling with something that needs to be deep cleaned?

folks, let me tell you, that drip pan was YUCKY. it had some cracks in it, and it was most likely causing an odor to permeate into the fridge/freezer.

the same can be said of us. is there a hidden "yucky" part in you? 

we may think that it's well hidden, we may even hide it to ourselves, but it's still there, slowly getting worse, slowly creeping in to all we do, all we say, how we live.

it may be a secret sin, an addiction, something that we just know we shouldn't be doing, watching, reading, studying, participating in, it may be fear, anxiety & worry, but it's hidden, so what is it really hurting?

take it from my fridge {& my yucky tasting ice cubes} it will eventually affect more than just that hidden part of you. just like that yucky water didn't suddenly start to smell, the "yuck" will slowly permeate and affect other areas of your life. if unattended and unaddressed it will continue to ferment and affect your life and your relationships and all you do and all you are. it will affect your relationship with your family, your friends and most importantly, God.

but, the good news is, just as I was able to pull out that drip pan, clean it up and mend it, God can do the same for you!

won't you let Him do that for you today? let him have those hidden parts, let him wash them, and mend them and make you whole again!

who'd have thought ... my dirty fridge could teach me a heart lesson?

Lord, please remove anything "yucky" in my heart before it gets more stinky and starts to permeate other areas of my life. clean up those things that i keep well hidden, even from myself, and especially from others. help me to let You come in and clean up, so that my relationship with you can be squeaky clean. don't let the "odor" of hidden things permeate my life, my relationships and how i love others. show me the things i don't even see myself and help me to be honest about the things i know are there that aren't pleasing to you. forgive me of these hidden things {big or little}. "search me, o God, and know my heart! try me and know my thoughts! and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" {psalm 139:23 & 24} amen.



3/1/18

{do.you.ever.wonder?}

do you ever wonder ...

what would be it be like if we all were free to just be ourselves?

our real selves.

what if we stopped hiding behind our masks.

the masks we wear so people can't see the real us.

what if we stopped telling facebook what was on our minds and started sharing our minds with others?

what if we really let them into ours, and we asked to see into theirs?

what if we really let them see the real "us" and we were willing to see the real them?

what if we let them see

our hurt.

our anxiety.

our fear.

our happiness.

our sadness.

what if we stopped trying to

say the right thing.

do the right thing.

be the person we think they want us to be.

what if we told them

our hurts.

our fears.

our dreams.

our reality.

what if we didn't let social stigmas get in the way?

what if we let them see beyond

the house.

the car.

the job.

the make-up.

the hair-do.

what if facebook and instagram and twitter and linkedin didn't make us feel like everyone else has

the perfect home.

perfectly wonderful meals.

perfect marriages with no conflict.

perfect children.

dream vacations.

what if we tore down the walls that protect our hearts and let them see that we have 

real hurts.

real fears.

real lives.

what if we were willing to show the "broken" in our lives, and if we were willing to accept them with the "broken" in theirs? 

how different would our relationships be?

with

our spouse.

our children.

our parents.

our friends.

our brothers.

our sisters.

our co-workers.

our bosses.

our neighbors.

the world we live in.

do you ever wonder what if, because i do.


2/15/18

{he.loves.me.that.much}

i didn't post yesterday because i wrote and re-wrote this post over and over in my head all day and couldn't put into words what i wanted to put into words ...

here i am today, still not sure how to do it, but i'm going to give it a try. sometimes once my fingers hit the keys, the words flow freely, as if my fingers are doing the talking.

february 14, 1992 ... do you remember what you were doing?

a friend of mine does ... she was having a baby! i remember that well! we got the call and i was so excited! i was excited because it was cool to share such a special day with my sweet friend and her beautiful new baby as it was also my wedding day to my best friend, rickey! february 14, 1992 was the day we had chosen to get married. the day our adventure began and the day that was the beginning of our happily ever after, our i'll love you until forever, the beginning of our story of taking this journey of life side by side, hand in hand. valentine's day, at the time seemed so romantic and so fun, and so practical! now rickey could never forget our anniversary, right? hallmark would make sure of that!

little did i know that our happily ever after, our i'll love you forever, our love story would come to a screeching halt less than 20 years later ...

not that the loving stopped. i loved him on february 14, 1992, i loved him on november 5, 2011 and i still love him today. death does not stop love, it just puts it into a new dimension. our story didn't "end" that day, as our beautiful children carry their daddy's legacy and he continues to shine the light of his love through him.

but ... the story of him & me, the story of rickey & sheila, the story of a "happily ever after" reached the point in our wedding vows that none of us like to consider, the "until death do us part" portion of those vows.

when you are 24 and starry eyed in love, that part of your vows seems like a long time in the future. a long, long, long time in the future. a let's have kids and grand kids and great grand kids time away. a we'll retire and travel together, and a let's get old and gray together time away. a "forever" time away.

so ... when that part of the story comes way sooner than you think it will, and your life becomes different than you ever thought it would, what then? what happens then?

when my "love story" as i knew it took a drastic turn on november 5, 2011 there was honestly only one thing i knew for certain, well actually two. rickey was safely at home in the arms of Jesus and God doesn't make mistakes. 

but ... where did that leave me? 

having spent nearly 20 years as rickey & sheila ... what now?

i was only 45, i wasn't buried in the cemetery next to rickey ... there must be more ... but what?

well, i shouldn't have been surprised to realize that in as much as God had been there on february 14, 1992 and on every day between then and november 5, 2011, He was also there on november 6, 2011 and every day that came after that!

to say that i have seen God's hand at work throughout my whole life seems like such an understatement, but it will have to suffice, because there aren't words big enough to accurately describe His presence and His peace and His love that He has lavished upon me!

one of the many blessings that He has lavished on me and one of the ways He has shown His love to me is in allowing me to be happy, truly happy again by giving me the opportunity to love again! the opportunity to have someone else to love and cherish and adore. someone to serve and submit to under God's authority ... a "new" someone to call husband!

i do not take this gift lightly, and each day, i realize more and more how truly blessed i am!

what i really wanted to share with this post though, was the amazing respect that i have seen my "new" love, rick show for the beautiful love that rickey & i shared by his response to february 14.

i have to be absolutely honest too, and say that i believe that this is the first year that i truly understood and respected and appreciated rick's reaction, and response to february 14.

the first year rick and i were married, i looked forward to valentine's day with anticipation {or should i say expectation?} ... would he get me flowers, or candy or some pretty, sparkly piece of jewelry? 

the answer to the above question was no. no, he didn't. he came home with flowers & stuffed animals for the girls, but not for me. i was a little baffled, a little hurt, but i tried to smile bravely and appreciate the love he was showing to the girls even though i wondered why i didn't receive anything.

in the years that followed, valentine's day was quiet. while friends were posting their dinners out and their flowers, or their chocolates or their sparkly pieces of new jewelry, i liked their posts, i commented how sweet their gifts were, all the while wondering how i could change rick and be the recipient of some of these things on this hallmark holiday that i placed so much value on.

at times, i forgot all of the little and big things that rick did for me on the other 364 days of the year as i either waited in anticipation of "this" day, or felt sorry for myself when my expectations of this "day" didn't come to pass. these hallmark holidays sure can cause a lot of stress and anxiety in a relationship, can't they?

little did i know, that rick was not ignoring this day. he didn't love me any less on february 14 than he did on february 13 or february 15! 

actually, he probably loved me MORE!

yes, more!

as our relationship grew, and we were able to talk through things without me getting irrationally emotional {i know, i'd never do that, right?} i slowly began to understand.

i began to understand that he loved me enough to keep february 14 low key. this was his way of honoring what "was". what rickey and i had. what i saw as his inability to meet my expectations on february 14, was actually his way of showing his utmost love and respect for me, for my previous marriage, for the life that i had shared with rickey. 

it may have taken me six years of spending valentine's day with this man for me to really "get" it, but now that i do, it only makes me love him more! this year, we had a quiet dinner at home. we ran to town and got culver's {a favorite treat} and came home and watched the olympics. no fireworks. no huge bouquets of flowers. no sparkly new jewelry or fancy dinners out. no huge boxes of heart shaped candy ... just quiet, soft spoken love. of mutual respect and understanding. of a wonderful man showing respect to another wonderful man and honoring a day for what it meant in the past.

my "valentine" from rick is a truly treasured gift. he loves me enough to keep one day of the year special, honoring a love that was and is no more.

in my mind, that is a gift to treasure and i love you for it rick, more than you will ever know!

thank you for loving me, and being patient with me until i finally "got it"




2/10/18

{use.your.good.dishes}


i was recently having a conversation with a group of ladies about deep-house cleaning ... a.k.a. "purging" and had stumbled upon a few articles that are too good not to share!

the first is "swedish death cleaning" {don't let the name scare you} which you can link to HERE

& the other is "89 things to remove from your home & your life" which you can read HERE 

while you may not follow every bit of this advice, there is some valuable information that may just be the inspiration that you need to get started!

we have done 3 what i would call major purges in the last 5 years, and with each, i find i want to get rid of more! the less stuff we have, the more enjoyable our life has become! it is so much easier to keep the house clean, to find things i'm looking for and to focus on the things that really matter!

during my last cleaning spree, i was cleaning in the basement. just that week, i had been on the lookout for some new dishes, because you  know, the 2 sets in my cupboard weren't "enough" for me. as i went through the dusty boxes stored on shelves in the basement, i opened one to discover some china dishes i'd nearly forgotten about. years ago, when my grandma had to move from her home to the nursing home, i'd inherited a partial set of china from her & ironically {?} a former pastor's wife had gifted me a set of china for my "hope chest" that she'd received and didn't particularly love that was the identical set to my grandma's partial set. these dishes had been sitting on a shelf, in a cardboard box, collecting dust in the basement untouched for 20+ years. since i'd recently been on the lookout for a set of dishes, i proceeded to clean out my kitchen cabinets, donating all the other plates, cups, bowls & more that had collected there and we now have one set of dishes, and yes, they are the combined china sets. 

yes, they are pretty, yes, most people would save them for their "good" dishes, their "company" dishes, but why? isn't saturday night pizza with my husband who i love dearly a special occasion? aren't burgers on the grill with my parents a reason to celebrate? aren't bbq ribs with our kids a reason to enjoy something nice? isn't every single day that God has gifted me with reason enough to use my good dishes? in addition to making every day a reason to celebrate, i opened up extra space in my kitchen cabinets, i simplified my life and i made use of something that was taking up space in the basement.

today, i want to challenge you, if you are looking to start making your life more relaxed, more enjoyable and certainly much more stress free, consider just one way you can remove something from your life that you really CAN live without! 

if you are brave enough, share with us what that item was ... and if you want some of my hints towards a more simple life, feel free to reach out to me, i'd love to share with you more of how we've done it, and how freeing it really is!



He knew. . .

As I sit here on my comfortable couch in our cute little air conditioned apartment in Chattanooga, I'm again amazed at how God works in...