Is Heaven Real?

... ugh!! Tonight, I'm TIRED!  But it's a good, I worked hard kind of tired. So, I'm going to try to be brief (but anyone who knows me knows that MIGHT not happen  -  I can write ALMOST as much as I can talk!!)

Last night as I laid my head on my pillow, my mind started to wander, away from God and satan got a little foothold.  I felt my heart start to race and my body start to shake, I was recalling "events" of the day on November 5 (not that recalling is BAD, but how I react can be - especially if I'm not focusing on GOD), so quickly, I realized what was happening and I gave myself a word picture - a picture of my little hand reaching up, up, up and putting my hand into a big, warm, loving hand, the hand of the Lord - and as I got this picture in my mind, my racing heart slowed, the shaking subsided and I drifted off to a wonderful night's rest - resting in the Lord.

This morning found us getting ready for school and Kajsa not feeling well, and I was again hit with the fact that I'm doing this parenting thing alone (well, not "alone" - I have lots of support, but you know what I mean - without Daddy in the house - at least not physically).  We headed off to school, but came home after a bit - with Kajsa and Taya just needing some "rest".  I believe we are all physically and emotionally drained - we are all sleeping well at night - 8 or 9 hours of good rest, but still, we are tired, and our bodies remind us to SLOW DOWN and allow the rest and healing that we need.  I actually used the time productively and cleaned out the garage, even renting a dumpster to do a thorough job - Tessa & I can BOTH get our vehicles in the garage now - which will make for much nicer mornings with the frost and snow!

After a nap for Kajsa and some "down" time for Taya, both girls wanted to head back to school for the last 2 hours of the day - and Tessa took her turn and came home and rested - I'm so thankful for my job, the flexibility they are allowing me right now, and the fact that I'm there with the girls.  I'm also thankful for their teachers who are so very understanding and have allowed them the time they need to catch up on missed work and get back into the routine of school!

When I was in Green Bay on Monday, I stopped at the Christian bookstore and at the checkout, I picked up a book with the title "Is Heaven Real?"  The introduction of the book contains this quote: 


I loved that, "as real as the ground you're standing on right now"!  That's pretty real!  I also liked the wording - "a split-second leap from this reality to the next" because that IS the image that I hold on to from November 5.  Some images that come to mind from that day do send my heart racing and my hands shaking, but the image of Rick INSTANTLY, in the TWINKLING OF AN EYE being in the presence of the LORD is an image that brings me immense comfort.  It is the image from a day that felt like a terrible nightmare that sustains me and gives me peace - the image that in a SPLIT SECOND, Rick was realizing the glories of HEAVEN!  Yes, I do believe Heaven is real and I look forward to reading the quotes and scriptures in my new little book - to imagine Rick knowing the amazing-ness of something that at this point I can only imagine!

I then read my devotional today, which ended with these verses from Philippians 3:20 & 21 . . . 

"But our citizenship is in Heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body"

I do NOT believe it is a "coincidence" that after reading a quote about how REAL Heaven is, that my devotional then contained a verse about my CITIZENSHIP being in Heaven . . . God has ordained every moment of every day - and He gives just what is needed - Grace for each day - moment by moment - and in such amazing ways that it just makes me smile and say THANK YOU LORD, thank you for your constant and abiding love! ♥


... leaning, day by day, moment by moment

... I've noticed that I've been marking time in "since such and such" in the past 3+ weeks.  Today it was 3 weeks ago, I said my last goodbye to my best friend . . . I remember it vividly, it seems like yesterday, it seems like years ago, all at the same time.  I KNEW it wasn't Rick I was talking to, yet it was the shell of his earthly body - the shell of the person I loved and shared my inner most thoughts, dreams, fears, desires, excitements, disappointments (you get the picture) with.  He, for those moments was still my Rickey, my best friend, my "bud".  And I remember promising him that I would take care of our girls for him, to do the best I could with the strength he had given me and with help from the LORD!  I was sad, very sad for me, for the kids, for the grandbabies, for his mama & daddy and mine, for our siblings and their spouses, nieces, nephews and friends.  Yes, there was great sadness, yet, even then, it was "tempered" with gladness.  Gladness that we had had those talks about our salvation, our assurance in Heaven, in eternal life, in the saving grace of our Lord and Savior.  Gladness that I KNEW without a doubt, that this was "just" the shell of the Rickey that I loved with all my heart . . . his heart and soul, the parts of him I truly love had flown away to heaven days before, the part I loved and adored WOULD live on forever - for ALL eternity with Jesus.  

All this to say, yes, we miss him - DESPERATELY at times, we do at times wonder "why" and then remember that "...now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully" (1 Corinthians 13:12).  I'm really not questioning God "why" as in shaking my fist in anger at him, I'm just wondering "why" as in what is the purpose for our current suffering, what is GOD calling me, us to "do" through this situation . . . it's a "why" of trying to serve and honor God, even in the midst of personal turmoil.  It's cliche, but "life goes on" . . . yes, it does.  It did not stop on November 5 in the hospital, it did not stop on November 8 when I said that last "good-bye", it did not stop in the lightly falling snow on November 9 as they lowered that box with the shell of Rickey into the ground.  No, the world kept spinning, the snow fell and turned into cold yucky rain, the sun went down each of those nights, and on God's cue, rose again the next morning . . . "life did (and does) go on".  And Rick would want that for us - of that I am sure! :)  

Today, I was telling my best (girl) friend (the sister I never had - I LOVE you so much Donna!) (and please don't be offended if I refer to some of you in this next statement - remember at the beginning I said this wouldn't always be "pretty") . . . I made the comment, "I'm tired of people looking at me with "pity"."  The hugs, the love, the prayers being said, the words of encouragement, the memories people have of my wonderful husband, the kids wonderful daddy, those are fantastic, but please, don't look at us with "pity" in your eyes!!  No, I NEVER wanted to be a single parent, I NEVER wanted to make all the decisions that I'm now making all on my own (well, not really on my own, I have much wise counsel), I NEVER asked for this to be the end of my "fairy tale".  But . . . (and here's where the "rubber meets the road") . . . I'm not writing my life's story, GOD is, and unless I want to deny publicly EVERYTHING that I have put my faith and trust in all my life (which I don't want to do), I HAVE TO BELIEVE that God is writing my story, and this is NOT the end of my "fairy tale", it is just a new chapter.  A chapter that, of course, I figured wouldn't be written for 20 or 30 more years, but, remember, I'm not doing the writing, HE is.  So, I will continue to TRUST, we will continue to LIVE life - to the fullest - within our "new normal".  We will keep on going on shopping trips, going to work, going to school, going to basketball games, getting excited when MY daddy calls me to tell me he shot an 8 POINTER this morning (you go dad!!), and the list goes on.  So, please, I KNOW your intentions are pure, you hurt for and with us, some people are gifted to express these feelings much more eloquently than others, and that's all FINE, but really, we are doing o.k., we are hanging on to GOD with both hands - tightly - and HE is holding us back - even tighter!  GOD is writing our story, HE has all the answers, we just need to be still and listen to Him, take HIS hand and let Him lead us down this path, follow Him on this fork in the road, and He will lead us through each chapter, until finally "our" last chapter is written and we are at Heaven's door and that beautiful reunion with Rick!

My devotional today said in part: "In this age of independence, people find it hard to acknowledge their neediness.  However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths were irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident . . . . you have discovered flowers of peace blossoming in the most desolate places.  You have learned to thank Me for hard times and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work.  You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts."  Sure, if I was writing the "book of me" I'd have NOT written this chapter so soon, it would have been written when Rick was 80 or 90 +, but the Lord has placed me in situations where my strengths were irrelevant and my weaknesses were glaringly evident.  HE is writing my book and through this chapter, I have discovered flowers of peace blossoming in the most desolate places.  Yes, I have become WEAK, and HE has become STRONG.  I am knowing HIM more intimately than I ever have.  I have become bold in sharing my faith.  I have turned to HIM moment by moment as I "LEAN IN" (sound familiar, Alison?) to the situation at hand.  I HAVE been receiving the gift above all gifts an intimate and "raw" knowing and needing and learning of Jesus.  HE has written this chapter, HE knows how it goes, I don't, I just have to reach out my hand like a little child and hold tightly to His!  Aaahhhhh, what a resting place, "What a fellowship, what a joy divine, LEANING on the EVERLASTING ARMS, I have blessed peace, with my Lord so near, leaning on the EVERLASTING ARMS!"

Isaiah 58:11

English Standard Version (ESV)
11And the LORD will guide you continually
   and satisfy your desire in scorched places
   and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
   like a spring of water,
   whose waters do not fail.


. . . so, how did he KNOW, how do we KNOW??

. . . at this point in our journey, and after reading our CHRISTMas card yesterday, some of you may be wondering, how did Rick KNOW he was going to Heaven?  You might be asking us, how can you rest assured that he IS in Heaven?

I would be failing my Lord and Rick’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 Rick surely was a GOOD man - as his brother in law said once, Rick is so nice - you could stand on his tongue and he wouldn't get mad - and that was a very accurate assessment of Rick'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’s Rick.

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.  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 ULITMATE 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. 

Rick 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.  Rick 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).  Rick 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 Rick 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.♥

And, if I still have questions, Pastor Dave read from Psalm 146 for the scripture reading on Sunday - verse 9 contains this promise "The Lord . . . upholds the widow and the fatherless".  As much as Rickey loved us, and took care of us (and he WAS my BEST FRIEND, an awesome husband and such a tender, loving Daddy), THE LORD TAKES EVEN BETTER CARE OF US, AND LOVES US EVEN MORE!!!  ♥  That is something to give thanks for, and to REST in as we lay our heads to rest each night and to wake up to each morning to face a new day, in this our journey to find our "new normal"

Please, also understand that I am not saying I fully "accept" this "new normal" that I am living with the "flippant" saying, "he is in a better place".  I CHOOSE daily to accept that the Lord loves us, infinitely more than I can imagine.  I CHOOSE daily to accept that God did not BLINK on November 5 as Rick was falling.  I CHOOSE daily to look to the Lord to be my strength and my shield.  I CHOOSE daily to believe Psalm 139:16 "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 Rick'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.  I daily pray that I will honor Rick's memory, serve the Lord, be both mama & daddy to my girls, love the big kids, love the grandbabies . . . . It is a daily (moment by moment) CHOICE and a daily (moment by moment) prayer to serve the Lord in all things.

Yesterday & today I went on the "ladies shopping trip" with some dear ladies from my church, I wasn't going to go, but the girls told me I HAD TO GO, so they and Bobbi & Donna ganged up on me!! :) And, I went, and, I had FUN.  Yes, I had fun - just the way Rick would have wanted me to (which is one of the questions the girls asked me when I said I wasn't going, "What would Daddy tell you to do?") . . . coming home, I must admit though, was weird.  I was excited about the fun things I had found for the girls for Christmas, but nobody was waiting to share my excitement with.  As I drove home, I should have been calling Rick to tell him about my day . . . and on and on . . . yes, it is a "new normal".  But, with the love of our awesome families and friends and the prayers being said for us, we will survive this season of our lives.  We will continue to grieve (but NOT without hope), we will find "new normals" in each day, we will laugh, we will cry, we will have fun, and we will miss Rick - terribly - but not without HOPE, because, WE KNOW WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE AND WE KNOW WHO HOLDS OUR HANDS! ♥


... JESUS is the REASON for the SEASON!!

DISCLAIMER . . . if you usually receive a CHRISTmas card from us, this is the picture AND letter you will receive . . . !! ♥


... a saying I have ALWAYS loved, but this year, it takes on a special meaning, and is more real than ever before.  This year, as we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we will be sad for us, but joyful in the fact that Rick will be celebrating Christmas together with the ONE who made Christmas possible!  Though our world was rocked on November 5, we still CHOOSE to trust in the LORD with all our hearts.  We received a letter in a sympathy card from a wonderful couple that we don't even know, in it was this phrase, "...Faith is not demanding what we want, it is trusting God's goodness in spite of life's tragedies!"  That is the place you will find "us girls" at this Christmas season.  Though we don't understand, we will continue to have faith, and trust in God's goodness - IN SPITE of life's tragedies.  We had ordered these cards prior to Rick's "home-going" and have decided to use them anyway as the wish is still sincere and still from all of us - Rick is just greeting you from Heaven!  His greatest wish for you this Christmas would be that when your days on earth are done he will be welcoming you into Heaven for all eternity with himself!  Treasure the holidays this year with your loved ones, hold them just a little tighter, love them just a little bit more, and make sure that you know where you are headed when Jesus calls your name - Rick did which is why we can say with assurance, 
Love, Sheila, Tessa, Taya & Kajsa ♥


"Rejoice in the day that I have made, for I am your steadfast Companion"

..... today, another Saturday.  Saturday seems to bring more reflection for me, what was I doing 3 weeks ago, RIGHT NOW?  The thought bounces around in my head throughout the day.  

Today dawned a bit dark and dreary, cloudy skies and slight rain drops.  The weatherman told me this yesterday, but WHY didn't I listen?  Today was the day we were going to get our CHRISTmas tree, we always get our tree Thanksgiving weekend, why didn't we make the time to go get it yesterday?  CHRISTmas will still come to us this year, we will just be finding a new normal in how we celebrate - different, to be sure, but still the BIRTH of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST - the REASON we have hope for the future!!  

Kajsa didn't care that it was drizzling outside, she still wanted to go and pick out our tree, so out she and I went!  She decided she didn't like our little walk so much when we stumbled upon the rib cage of what was most likely a deer, but she wondered WHAT had gotten to it??? . . . As we walked and she found the PERFECT tree, the rib cage was all but forgotten! :)  We draped the jump rope that we brought with as our "tree tag" over the branches with my promise that I'd come back later in the day and cut it down!  I went and found a saw in Dad's garage and returned shortly with tree in tow.  Tessa & Taya came out to the garage and both declared the tree "cute" and everyone was pleased with Kajsa's choice!  The tree is all lit up now and about 1/2 decorated ("Just Dance" with Addie took center stage, even over tree decorating!)

Tonight we celebrated Brad & Amelia's recent wedding with a party for them - it was nice to see so many people and "visit" just doing something "normal", though I have to admit, I was much more aware of everyone who came to the party as a "couple" - kind of a weird feeling - yet STILL I felt the strong arms of the LORD holding me close and letting me enjoy the evening of celebration for these two special young people!

The following is a portion of today's devotional  "This is the day that I have made!  ... walk with me along the high road of thanksgiving, and you will find all the delights I have made ready for you ... you live in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely ... how precious are My children who remember to thank Me at all times ... they can walk through the darkest days with Joy in their hearts because they know that the Light of My Presence is still shining on them ... Rejoice in this day that I have made, for I am your steadfast Companion."

Ah, the reminders we are given!  Preparations for the CHRISTmas season, the laughter of children playing, the snuggling with a baby, the love of my 3 beautiful girls AND my 2 awesome step-kids & their spouses & children (my grandbabies!), the chats with friends, the family get-togethers . . . and so many more, ALL day long, reminders that God is always there, always watching over us, always protecting us, and longing for us to remember to come to Him, rest in Him, trust in Him, even when it doesn't make sense, He is still there, giving us rest, protecting us, longing for us, waiting for us to hear His still small voice whispering Peace Be Still!


I don't have to know the answers, I just have to keep following the ONE who does - JESUS!!

.... I trust GOD because I don't understand HIM.  If I could wrap my brain around GOD, I wouldn't need Him!  :) 

:)  What a sweet truth in the "title" of this post and the above quote - both "stolen" from the walls of facebook friends!!

Such true words, even though, sometimes I'd LIKE to KNOW all the answers, it's o.k., I DON'T HAVE to, as long as I continue to follow the ONE (Jesus) who does! :)  That is a peaceful resting place to find myself in these days!  There are MANY times that I'd like to "know" the answers, to ask God, WHY, but, in reality, I DON'T know the answers and I will probably never understand the "why" until I reach Heaven's gate . . . and as long as I keep on following, it's o.k. not to know, to REST in God's grace and love and goodness, and to TRUST that HE sees the "big picture" while I don't/can't.

Along those same lines, I DON'T understand HIM and HIS ultimate "big plan", but my brain is human, and my human brain CANNOT fathom the mind of God, and that is o.k. too!  

Romans 15:13 says:  "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you TRUST in HIM, so that you may overflow with HOPE by the power of the Holy Spirit."   YES! That's it, HE is filling me (us) with peace, and yes, even joy BECAUSE we are trusting in HIM and we are oveflowing with HOPE because of His wonderful promises!!  A HOPE for the future, here on earth, and ULTIMATELY the hope of an eternity in Heaven where we will be reunited and Jesus will dry all our tears!

Today was the day that I took Rick's truck to town to see about the possibility of trading it in (we had NO need of a 4x4 truck that gets 15 MPG (tops)), so after talking to the girls, we all agreed that Daddy was NOT tied to us in any way through his truck and yes, it made sense to sell/trade it.  So after much wise counsel from my brothers-in-law (whose opinion I value VERY MUCH), and my Daddy (whose opinion I also value VERY MUCH), we jumped in with both feet and traded in the truck and my car for an SUV - which we have been wanting for YEARS!!  Tim told me to have "no regrets" and he was right, he made me ask myself "What would Rick tell me to do"? and the answer was CRYSTAL CLEAR - he would have said to GO FOR IT . . . so we did, GOD is good (as usual) and all the details fell perfectly into place.  Given a choice, of course, I'd take Rickey back and WALK where I have to go, but since that is not an option, and not the path the Lord has chosen for me, I (with much advice and prayer) decided this was the right path for us to take. 

After the excitement (nervousness, apprehension, fear . . . ) of the day, we met up with Ashley & the girls & Rochet, Addie, Norma, Kaitlyn & Patrick at Brothers 3 . . . we had a good time together (as always) and then came home to a "girls night" (Nick is still up at camp).  We, at this moment have 10 girls in the house and I have a stomach ache from laughing so hard at Daila and Katie (Tessa's friend) doing  5,000 jumping jacks for "cheer practice"!  I should have taken a video!! :) 

God has seen us through another day, giving us grace for the moment, bringing friends and kind words, love and encouragement just as it was needed, just as He does EVERY day (and has done EVERY day of my life, I'm just "seeing" it every day lately!).  Tomorrow, we will go out and get our Christmas tree, another FIRST in our new normal, but I am resting assured as I turn in tonight, that despite the sadness that will surely be felt during this Christmas season, we will also experience JOY unspeakable if we just keep turning our eyes upon Jesus!!  After all, if we focus on God's TRUTHS, as WONDERFUL as Christmas is here on earth, imagine what it is like in Heaven!! ♥


"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" Matthew 5:4

... "mourn" - to express sorrow or grief . . . "blessed" - blissfully happy or contented . . . "comforted"  - to soothe, console or reassure ... this was the "verse of the day" on my cell phone for TODAY - Thanksgiving Day 2011 . . . the first real "holiday" in our "new normal" (not counting mine, Daila's and Ashley Beth's Birthdays - which have all already come and gone - and we survived all 3).  And though we do "mourn", we also do feel "comforted" (beyond human understanding) and "blessed" (more than you can ever know)! 

My reading today in my devotional stated: "Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything.  There is an element of mystery in this transaction:  You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances).  This is a spiritual act of obedience - at times, blind obedience.  To people who don't know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. . . . . it is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity."

Last night, when I got done blogging, I looked at Tessa's Bible where she had 2 index cards laying, and one of them was Romans 8:38,39, the SAME verses I had read in my devotional and that had spoken to me!!  Just ANOTHER "God thing" again reminding us how HE is watching over all areas of our lives!

This morning, my dad came over and helped me clean out Rick's truck (only a pack-rat will understand what that truly means - or possibly Jim or Tony who worked with Rick every day and KNEW that Rick could not even take a passenger with him in his truck!!).  A little later, Tim and Papa Buck came to help with the same project (God's love surrounding us - AGAIN)! After the cleaning of the truck, I finished up getting dinner made (with the help of the girls & Addie) and Mom & Dad came over and we enjoyed a yummy meal (if I do say so myself!)  Following our meal, we headed over to Gramma & Papa Rye's at half-time of the PACKER game.  We enjoyed spending time over there cheering on our PACKERS on to yet ANOTHER victory (there was only one Lions fan in the house, and she wasn't TOO die-hard)!! - first time EVER the team has gone 11-0 to start the season (and to think, Rick is high-five-ing with Reggie White in HEAVEN!)

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and enjoying each other and making plans for the late night shopping trip some of us were taking!! (Taya & Kajsa went with 3 of their cousins - Walmart for 10:00 and then others to follow as they open up!).   (Nick, Ashley & the girls went to Ashley, Brian & Ty's along with their mom & step-dad - they came back late in the afternoon and Nick headed to camp with the guys - so we had a girls night with myself, Tessa, Ashley & their 3 girls!!) 

It was a GOOD day, and in spite of missing Rick, and we all survived it!  GOD IS SO AMAZINGLY GOOD!! :)  I have SO MANY things to be thankful for - among them the fact that I got ALL the thank you cards to date done and have only a small handful that I still need addresses for as well as getting our Christmas cards all set to send out!!

Today, my mom brought me the words to a song that she and my dad have been enjoying by the Gaither Vocal Band and when I read them, it was amazing, because it is a song that could be Rick's own words.  It goes like this:

I then shall live as one who's been forgiven.
I'll walk with joy to know my debts are paid. 
I know my name is clear before my father;
I am His child and I am not afraid.
So, greatly pardoned, I'll forgive my brother;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

I then shall live as one who's learned compassion.
I've been so loved, that I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see another's point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

Your Kingdom come around and through and in me;
Your power and glory, let them shine through me.
Your Hallowed Name, O may I bear with honor,
And may your living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world through me.

I'm SO THANKFUL for the gift of music and how the lyrics can speak to us. I'm thankful for my wonderful parents and in-laws.  I'm thankful for extended family and the love we share.  I'm thankful that we not only survived the day, but enjoyed it!  I'm thankful to the cousins who love my girls.  I'm thankful that tonight is only the 2nd night I'm sleeping alone  (we initially all slept out in the living room, then Kajsa has been sleeping with me) and I'm not freaking out about it.  I'm thankful for the friends who have invited Tessa to shop with them tomorrow.  I'm thankful for "little people" (grandbabies) who make us laugh and smile, and draw us pictures that say, "I'm thankful for my Grandma's house" and draw a picture of our house filled with all of us (minus her little sister for some reason!!) :)  I'm THANKFUL for God's promises that we ARE blessed and we ARE being comforted and that we have a hope for the future, so though we mourn, it is NOT without HOPE, but with the GREAT PROMISE that has been made:

1 Corinthians 15:54-56

English Standard Version (ESV)
54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

    "Death is swallowed up in victory." 55 "O death, where is your victory?
   O death, where is your sting?"

Happy Thanksgiving, what are YOU thankful for today?


In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

..... this day, where to begin . . . first of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ASHLEY BETH . . . YOU ARE LOVED ♥ . . . more than you will EVER know!! ♥

... to say today was a "good" day, seems actually an understatement!  Since it's LATE and I'm tired, I'm going to do the "abbreviated version"

... today, I'm THANKFUL for:

  • the wonderful co-workers I have - even though I spent part of the day today working, it was not a task I didn't enjoy, simply because of the sweet person I was working with!
  • my wonderful friends - especially the 2 of you who I spent MUCH time on the phone with this afternoon and evening, thanks for LOVING Rick as you each did and for just being "here" for me!
  • my mom & dad - thanks for EVERYTHING - again! 
  • sweet friends who send sweet cards that bring tears (but the GOOD kind) to our eyes - thank you for the BEAUTIFUL words of your memories of Rick ♥ your words will be forever treasured♥
  • my in-laws . . . ALL OF YOU!! :) but, tonight, especially Tim & Rochet & Jeff & Norma!  We received lockets engraved with "Always in my Heart" with a picture of Rick inside and his name (or Daddy for the girls) on the back with 11/5/11 ♥ along with silver jewelry boxes with our names on them to keep the lockets in!  What a wonderful surprise and keepsake - you guys are AWESOME!!
  • my AWESOME kids - all FIVE of you and your spouses and the grandbabies! ♥ You all ROCK and you are ALL a BLESSING to me! ♥
  • our LORD who has PROMISED that I CAN lie down in PEACE and SLEEP because the LORD alone makes me to dwell in safety!
And, now, I'd best try to get some sleep as I'm cooking a turkey in the morning, and if it's not in the oven by 8:00, we won't be eating on time!! 

Romans 8:38-39

New International Version (NIV)
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


....God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)

.... this  was one of today's verses in the devotional that my sis-in-law got me "Jesus Calling - Enjoying Peace in His Presence".   Being close to Thanksgiving, today's reading was about thankfulness . . . "A thankful mind-set does not entail a denial of reality with its plethora of problems.  Instead, it rejoices in Me, your Savior, in the midst of trials and tribulations.  I am your refuge and strength, an ever-present and well-proved help in trouble."

Today, I (we) had yet another reason to "rejoice in our Savior" even in the midst of this trial and tribulation.  I had brought all of the "documentation" to the Social Security Administration back when I got the initial letter from them telling what they needed.  That day, they could not process our "claim" though as we had to wait for the official "phone interview" which was scheduled for today.  The lady, that day, did give me her "best estimate" of how much we should expect, and it was quite  a bit less than I was thinking (hoping, praying) it would be.  When I mentioned it to my brother-in-law, he said, "don't worry about it, we'll be fine"! . . . So, unusual for me, I DIDN'T worry - at all (definitely a "GOD THING" as I am typically a "worrier") . . . today at 9:00 a.m., right on schedule, the call came, along with a TERRIBLE phone connection (I had to ask the lady to repeat at least half of her questions) and just as we were ALMOST done, we were disconnected . . . !!  She was a very pleasant lady and she called me back quite quickly and she told me the amount that we would receive each month . . . and i questioned her, probably FIVE times, if I had heard her correctly (I'm still not "counting" on it until I get the paperwork confirming it!), but the amount that she told me was more than DOUBLE what the original "best estimate" had been!!  When I called Tim to tell him, he said, "see, I told you not to worry"! :)  And I could honestly say that I hadn't been and I was sure glad I hadn't wasted almost 2 weeks "fretting"! :)

After school today, there was another Jr. High Basketball game, Kajsa was again cheering, so we stayed after school and decorated my office for CHRISTMAS!! :)  It was actually fun, and put us into the Holiday Spirit (that and the fact that I was listening to Christmas music all day!).  At the game was a gentleman who takes photographs of local (Upper Peninsula) sporting events.  He and I have met and talked several times in the past as he was related to Nick's wife Ashley by marriage.  He came over to me, verified that it WAS me, and told me that he had something for me in his jacket.  He then presented me with a book, "Getting to the Other Side of Grief . . . Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse".  It is a book written from a Christian perspective, and the little bit I've been able to look at looks like it will be a very beneficial book . . . another kindness from another person the LORD has put into our lives!! 

Tessa & I also attended the bridal shower of one of her best friends (and my cousin's daughter) which was so much fun!  Afterwards, Tessa went to a friend's house for "movie night" and a girl's night sleep-over, Addie again came home with us, and she and Taya are now watching the Justin Bieber movie, Kajsa is snuggling with me, watching "Extreme Couponing" and I'm looking forward to reading the new Karen Kingsbury book that was pre-ordered and downloaded to my Kindle this morning!!

Another day, filled with the Lord's grace, tender mercies and constant reminders of HIS love for us in BIG and small ways!


...faith is not demanding what we want; it is trusting God's goodness in spite of life's tragedies

Today was back to school and 6:15 a.m. came WAY TOO EARLY!!  When I got up, I asked Tessa if she'd slept well and she said, "yes, when I finally fell asleep" which was my exact situation last night.  As we talked we both determined that we were both o.k., we hadn't been laying in bed crying, we weren't feeling overly stressed or anxious, just "awake" . . . which makes for an EARLY morning and a long day!!  But it's good to know that GOD doesn't sleep, and HE was there with us, even in the wee hours of the morning (I finally fell asleep a little after 1:00 a.m. - and slept like a baby until the alarm went off).

Speaking of GOD being with us, and the encouragement He sends to us each day . . . Tessa came  home after school today, the rest of us stayed for the Jr. High basketball game (Taya had cheer practice, and Kajsa was cheering.  Tim, Rochet & Addie came up to the game and the games were good!  The 7th grade team won BIG and the 8th grade lost a nail biter, but made it interesting right up to the end!) . . . anyway, back to the story . . . Tessa had gotten the mail and it was laying on the counter when we got home.  She had opened the cards that had arrived and came with a smile telling me that the one on the top was so sweet . . . it was a simple, nondescript sympathy card, with a return name & address I didn't recognize.  I assumed it was from someone whose home Rick had worked on over the years, I was wrong!  Following is the letter that was included in the card in it's entirety (minus identifying names):

Dear Sheila,

We are praying for your family during this time of loss.  Although you and Rick never met us we did have the chance to meet Tessa, Taya and Kajsa as they helped our daughter (babysitting).  We were just as impressed with the girls friendliness and good manners as was our daughter.  WE know kids grow up that way thanks to people like you and Rick.

I wanted to share some words out of my prayer journal with you, and just happened to open up to this story written by the parents of a 17 year old killed in an auto accident, "We prayed.  But Melissa was killed.  Now what ?  Do we stop praying?  Do we give up on God?  Do we try to make it alone?  Absolutely not!  Prayer is even more vital now.  God is in control.  Faith is not demanding what we want; it is trusting God's goodness in spite of life's tragedies."

We pray God's love will comfort you and you will find the strength needed to deal with everything.  I hope you remember you are never alone and people like us and our friends, that you don't even know, are praying for your family.

God Bless You.

WOW!!  What else is there to say after getting a letter like that?  People from a state 1/2 way across the country from us, who don't know us (except for meeting the girls - once, I think) AND their friends are praying for us . . . and LOVING on us . . . and ENCOURAGING us . . . there are not really words to express the emotion I felt reading that letter!  Love was evidenced at the funeral home, yes, love has been evidenced EVERY SINGLE minute of every single day for the last 16 days, but this was an over the top REMINDER of the Lord's LOVE for us - a love extended through a dear couple who I have never met, who CHOSE to encourage us in JESUS!! :) 

"Do we stop praying?  Do we give up on God?  Do we try to make it alone?  Absolutely not!  Prayer is even more vital now.  God is in control.  Faith is not demanding what we want; it is trusting God's goodness in spite of life's tragedies."

My mom came over for a little bit when we got home and we had a nice visit (which is rare - we are usually SO BUSY) - she offered to help out with some township things that I had let "slip through the cracks" (THANKS MOM!!), she helped me re-hang the curtains I put up last night (we added another panel) and we had a very nice chat - another reminder of how thankful I am for being raised in a Christian  home by parents who love and trust in the Lord and taught me about HIM even before I could say my ABC's!! 

As I sit writing this, Tessa is catching up on sleep lost last night as she has another early morning of Parli-Pro practice tomorrow morning and then she is going back to work tomorrow night (another first - but I think another good first - she enjoys her job and is so fortunate to have a Christian boss as I do {her boss is my bosses wife!!}), Taya & Kajsa & their sweet cousin Addie are in their room whispering (loudly) and giggling and giggling and giggling . . . what a beautiful sound!!  Tonight, I will rest, thankful AGAIN for the constant blessings the LORD sends our way, for friends who we don't even know, yet they reach across the miles to shower us with LOVE and for the laughter of (little) girls who love the Lord and even in the midst of this storm in their lives have not forgotten how to laugh and have fun and love life and Jesus! ♥


...I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me..

...on Sunday, we had plans to go to Marquette to Maddie & Lila's dedication service and Daila & Maddie's Birthday party to follow. On Saturday night, it began snowing so after some texting back and forth with Nick, we decided not to risk bad roads and we stayed home (Nick, Ashley & the girls will be coming down later in the week so we will have a little "party" then!).

Since we stayed home, we went to church where the passage of the day was from Philippians 4, regarding CONTENTMENT. As Pastor was preaching, 3 verses JUMPED out at me, 2 from the passage, and one a few verses before in the chapter:

Philippians 4:7 - And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

Philippians 4:11 (b) - for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

We ended the service with the song, "Day by Day", which left a few tears sneaking their way out of my eyes, because I'm sad that Rick's not here with me anymore and also because of THANKFULNESS that I was reminded of that DAY by DAY, the LORD HIMSELF is near me! ♥ My dear friend Jen came over by my and just put her arms around me - again surrounding me with ♥LOVE♥ and God's reminder that others are hurting right alongside me and that I (and the girls and all the rest of us missing Rick) am LOVED!

Day by day, and with each passing moment,

Strength I find, to meet my trials here;

Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,

I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.

He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure

Gives unto each day what He deems best—

Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,

Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me

With a special mercy for each hour;

All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,

He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;

The protection of His child and treasure

Is a charge that on Himself He laid;

“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”

This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation

So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,

That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation

Offered me within Thy holy Word.

Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,

Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,

One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,

Till I reach the promised land.

...what a beautiful old hymn, and what a story behind it, when I looked up the "hymn history", this is a bit of what is said about the writer of these words:

Lina Sandell, was a daughter of the pastor of the parish church of that community. Being a frail youngster, she usually preferred to spend her time in her father's study rather than to join her comrades in play. When she was twenty-six years of age, she accompanied her father on a journey to Gothenburg, but tragedy occurred before the destination was reached. The ship gave a sudden lurch and Lina's father fell overboard and drowned before the eyes of his devoted daughter.

Although she had written hymns prior to this tragic experience, more songs began to flow out of her broken heart which reflect a simple, child-like trust in Christ and a deep sense of His abiding presence in her life.

I do NOT consider it a coincidence that the story of this song that touched me so was written by a daughter who had, herself, lost her Daddy - just like my beautiful girls (and boy!) . . . it is yet again another proof that GOD IS WATCHING OVER US every second of every minute of every day! :) and HE still keeps sending me reminders, that are tangible and my human mind can comprehend!

After church, we came home and had leftovers then went to Uncle Gary & Aunt Bev's house to bring Uncle Gary "love on a plate"!! (a.k.a. a piece of Birthday cake - this is what he said to Tessa when she brought him a piece of Rick's cake back in August). It was good to see them again, and hug and cry and honor Rick's memory!

Next was Gramma & Papa Rye's house (the first time I have been THERE), for the Packer game. It was good to be back there and spend time with this wonderful family who loved Rick right along with us! I'm so thankful for them, and their faith and that they raised Rick in a CHRISTIAN home where he learned to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, and truly his neighbor as himself! What a wonderful gift to know you have given your children!

At half time, Rochet, Taya & I left and went to town where I did a little "birthday shopping" with gift money from my parents and also Thanksgiving dinner shopping. I'm so thankful for my wonderful sister-in-law who has been such an encouragement in the LORD to me in recent days - she has gifted me with several items that declare the love of GOD and keep me pointed in the right direction. Another reminder of how blessed I am! Tessa headed home and did homework (something wonderfully "routine") and Kajzi stayed at Gramma & Pup's with Addie and they baked up a pan of wonderful bars!

Here I am, caught up in my writing (though there is SO MUCH I haven't said), and relaxing in bed with my sweet Kajzi next to me, Tessa & Taya snug in their rooms and memories that I hold dear reminding me that even though my time with Rick was WAY TOO SHORT (in my human mind), it was a BLESSED time and I am so honored to have been called his WIFE and to have had such an AWESOME husband and BEST FRIEND!

still more Birthday "spoiling"

...on Saturday (the 19th), we were awakened at 9:30 a.m. (sleeping in was SO NICE) by knocking on our front door, we went to the door to discover Uncle Tim here to show us his deer that he shot at camp - important stuff! :)  He also told us that he'd be over at 1:00 to pick us up to go to Green Bay to pick up Rochet (his wife, my sister-in-law), and daughter, Addie.  We did a few things around the house and were ready to be off with Tim at 1:00.  We went to the mall to do some exchanges and a little bit of shopping - Tessa's friend from Lake Lundgren, Cody met us in Green Bay so he, Tessa & Taya went to the Christian bookstore while Tim, Kajsa & I went to the Lambeau Field Atrium for their tree lighting ceremony.  The signs we found said the tree was being lit at 6:45 so we wandered around for a bit, went to the Pro-Shop where Tim bought a "game day" program for Sunday's game and we headed towards the doors for the tree lighting - only to meet everyone coming back IN from the ceremony - it had already happened!! :)  It is something we will laugh about for YEARS to come!!  :)  The atrium was decorated beautifully for Christmas and we had a good time regardless of the fact that we missed the actual lighting!! :)  We then went to the airport where Addie & Rochet arrived 20 minutes ahead of schedule.  Once we collected their baggage, we headed over to Margarita's for a late supper! :)  There was again, lots of being silly, laughing, and just enjoying the togetherness of family.  Another day filled with God's grace, tender mercies and LOVE for us! :)  

Inside the Lambeau field atrium - looking down at Santa & the little kids! :)  


...so, there are always "firsts" in the "journey to a new normal" and my birthday happened to be the "first" - first hurdle for us to overcome. November 18 came with the alarm ringing at 6:15 as so many days before . . . another morning, another day to face in the new life we are living, another day to CHOOSE to either serve GOD and honor Rick's memory or to challenge God's plan for our lives. I chose the first . . . . I will not dis-honor GOD or Rick's memory by doubting that God has a plan for our lives . . . and daily it is a CHOICE! :)
My beautiful girls awoke with greetings of Happy Birthday Mama which immediately lifted my spirits! :) When I got to school/work, the "spoiling" just continued!! :) There were so many Happy Birthday wishes and little gifts and words of LOVE that it was just AMAZING!! :)

I was initially taken "aback" when I received a bouquet of flowers that said "Happy Birthday, Love you Bud" . . . this is the "nickname" Rick & I have always used for each other . . . I was QUITE certain that no matter how much I LOVE him, I also KNEW that he was NOT organized or enough of a "plan-aheader" to have ordered the flowers ahead of hunting season to have delivered so when they arrived, I read the card, put it in the envelope and took a few deep breaths! Tessa was in the office, so I showed her the card and she responded, with a smile and a huge HUG "That's why we had to go to Debackers last night (the ice cream shop - you have to go PAST the flower shop on the way to get ice cream!)" :) It then made sense and she told me that Nick was even in on it, and figured it would make me cry! :) I did tear up several times during the day, but more from beautiful memories and the ♥LOVE♥ that I was enveloped in and being "spoiled" with!!

A little later in the day, ANOTHER bouquet arrived, this one from the "Big Kids"!! (which included the grand-kids too)! :)

After work, we headed to supper with my parents at the Little Nugget and it was so nice to get out with them doing something "normal", enjoy a goodd meal as well as a lot of laughs!! :)

After eating, we came home for cake & ice cream - Mom went and got Gramma Dodo and we all enjoyed some time together.

Auntie Peggy also came over right as we got home from eating - perfect timing and she brought rosettes - one of our FAVORITE treats. She also brought a BEAUTIFUL picture that they had taken on the morning of November 6.  It was one of the most beautiful sunrises ever, and even more special was the fact that they caught it, captured a BEAUTIFUL picture and thought of US!! :)  They captioned the photo also, for me, the caption reads "11-6-2011 - Rick's first morning in Heaven" and the kids one reads "11-6-2011 - Daddy's first morning in Heaven".  What a TREASURED gift - from them and from the LORD! Again, ANOTHER reminder for us to TRUST IN THE LORD WITH ALL OUR HEARTS.  God is watching over us and He did not leave us alone, or without hope for the future!  What an Awesome GOD we serve.  He has proven Himself faithful over and over and over to us in recent days!

So, we made it through this "first" without our dear Rickey and thanks to the LORD and a huge number of friends & family, we not only survived, but enjoyed the day!  I had well over 100 Birthday greetings left for me on facebook as well as so many calls, texts, visits and hugs!  Thought this Birthday was very DIFFERENT from years past, it was still a good day in my book and I am very thankful for that!  Blessings were abundant, and God's grace was AGAIN sufficient for us! :)


...so, there are always "firsts" in the "journey to a new normal" and my birthday happened to be the "first" - first hurdle for us to overcome. November 18 came with the alarm ringing at 6:15 as so many days before . . . another morning, another day to face in the new life we are living, another day to CHOOSE to either serve GOD and honor Rick's memory or to challenge God's plan for our lives. I chose the first . . . . I will not dis-honor GOD or Rick's memory by doubting that God has a plan for our lives . . . and daily it is a CHOICE! :)

My beautiful girls awoke with greetings of Happy Birthday Mama which immediately lifted my spirits! :) When I got to school/work, the "spoiling" just continued!! :) There were so many Happy Birthday wishes and little gifts and words of LOVE that it was just AMAZING!! :)

I was initially taken "aback" when I received a bouquet of flowers that said "Happy Birthday, Love you Bud" . . . this is the "nickname" Rick & I have always used for each other . . . I was QUITE certain that no matter how much I LOVE him, I also KNEW that he was NOT organized or enough of a "plan-aheader" to have ordered the flowers ahead of hunting season to have delivered so when they arrived, I read the card, put it in the envelope and took a few deep breaths! Tessa was in the office, so I showed her the card and she responded, "That's why we had to go to Debackers last night (the ice cream shop - you have to go PAST the flower shop on the way to get ice cream!)" :) It then made sense and she told me that Nick was even in on it, and figured it would make me cry! :) I did tear up several times during the day, but more from beautiful memories and the ♥LOVE♥ that I was enveloped in and being "spoiled" with!!

A little later in the day, ANOTHER bouquet arrived, this one from the "Big Kids"!!

So many changes ...

We like to tell people that we love Chattanooga so much we moved here twice! Since my last post in 2020, we spent eight months in Michigan...